Sunday, September 29, 2013

Friendship, Gay Love and Rock-n-Roll!

American Love Songs is one of the best books I have read all year. Not just the best gay romance or best romance novel, but one of the best books, period.

Ashlyn Kane has elevated this story beyond genre and sexual orientation, to a place that few works of fiction ever reach: American Love Songs is a great story about friendship, love, and the precarious nature of success in the music industry. Sure, there is the added wrinkle of how being a young gay man effects all of this, but it’s not treated like a burden, which is so often done in gay romances.

Jake Brenner is gay. His friends, family, and fans of the band all know this for fact. We as readers learn it right off the bat. Jake never bemoans his sexuality. In fact, his causal self acceptance allows the reader to quickly move past that fact to get to know Jake as a person. To know Jake is to love him.

It’s been a long time since I fell this wholly in love with a fictional character, much less a gay one, but it’s hard not to be smitten with someone so funny, creative, and loyal.

Wayward Sons’ Inaugural Post

Wow, okay, this page has eight fans now and only four of them are us, so I guess I should put something up to introduce ourselves or something. Anyway, here’s a picture.

On the left is Jimmy, our drummer. You can just see him under all the hair. Jimmy’s a great guy. Dumber than a sack of hammers, but damn, he can count.

Next up is Chris, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist. Chris can hit the high notes like a Viennese choirboy. Also, don’t let his pretty face fool you. He’s a douchebag.

The slammin’ redhead rocking the pixie cut and licking the guitar is Kylie, lead guitarist. Yes, those are her real boobs. No, you can’t touch them. Sorry, guys. Jimmy will break you, and we’re too poor to get lawyers.

Oh, hey, and the hot guy on his knees is me, Jake. Please, no blowjob jokes. People should never joke about blowjobs. I play bass. Nice to meet you.

Together, we’re the Wayward Sons, an up-and-coming (is that pretentious? To call oneself up-and-coming? Who am I kidding; nobody’s reading this, so who cares?) rock band based in Independence, Kansas.

America Long Songs by Ashlyn Kane page 5

That is Jake. A smartass, shit talker who will have you rolling and snorting through the entire book. His character voice is crystal clear, and unmistakably his own. The same can be said about the rest of the motley crew that makes up the cast of this story. Everyone from minor players like Jake’s loving mother to Jake’s love interest, Parker, come alive on the page.

Speaking of Parker...*swoons* Yeah, Parker McAvoy is the quintessential tortured genius. At the start of the story we are unsure of what tortures him, though it is clear that something not-so-good has happened in his past. What’s most fascinating about Parker, other than his incredible musical talent, is how his quiet, shy personality is the perfect counter to Jake’s loud, outgoing nature. Don’t get me wrong, Parker is no shrinking violet. He holds his own even with the likes of Mr. Brenner.

Jake plonked the bottle down in the middle of the living room table, distracting Parker from his place in Breakfast of Champions. Rubbing his eyes with one hand—he’d been at it for hours—Parker lowered his glasses with the other. His eyebrows lifted as his gaze lighted on the bottle of amber liquid.

“We’re going to play a game,” Jake said firmly, but he made sure to smile just in case Parker thought he was a psychopath.14

“Is it the one you play on your knees in front of a toilet?” Parker asked. “Because I hate that game.”

With a flourish, Jake produced two shot glasses from behind his back.

“Oh,” Parker sighed. “It is that game.” But he folded the corner of his page over and set the book aside, so he obviously didn’t hate it that much.

America Long Songs by Ashlyn Kane page 24

Side note: That “14” in the quote above isn’t a typo. It’s a marker for an annotation (see below). They are scattered through the narrative and are comments from either Jake or Parker. I have never seen anything like this before in fiction, but it is great, and never failed to make me laugh.

14In case you were wondering? It didn’t help.—PM

These two are so perfectly in-tune that you can feel the magnetic pull between them through the pages of the book. They have palpable chemistry and an adorable interplay, not to mention undeniable sexual tension, even when they are just friends. Although, when things become more complicated between them it is some of the hottest erotica I have ever read. However, the romance of this story isn’t just Jake and Parker’s journey, but the slow and steady seduction of the reader by the world that Ashlyn Kane has created.

This isn’t just a love story, it’s a Rock story, and it is jam packed with classic rock-n-roll moments. From Parker getting intense stage fright at their first big show, to the band going through endless interviews to find an acceptable road manager who wouldn’t sleep with Chris, the lead singer, and even the filming of their first music video. All these details help to flesh out the world of American Love Songs and transforms it from genre fiction to a full-developed, and wholly enjoyable fiction novel (that has a gay romance at its center).

I am passionate about this book, not just because love the characters, story, and the eyeball-meltingly hot sex scenes, but because I believe Ashlyn Kane has done something that I knew could be done if someone talented and brave enough would just do it. She has shown us that there is a place for gay fiction to sit side by side with mainstream fiction. That stories featuring homosexual relationships at the forefront can be just as enthralling and fulfilling as their heterosexual counterparts, in this case even more so. This book blows just about every romantic story (heterosexual or homosexual) that I’ve read this year out of the fucking water. No, I am not exaggerating.

American Love Songs is a hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic story of two friends finding love in the chaotic world of rock-n-roll. I hope that we have convinced you to take a chance, skip a trip to Starbucks for one day and buy this book. If you love slash fan fiction, if you love rock-n-roll or even if you just love well written fiction, this is the book for you.


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