Bonfires - Amy Lane Review originally posted at Sinfully.

4.5 stars

Larx and Aaron have crossed each other’s paths for years. With Larx being a teacher and now principal of the high school where both his and Aaron’s children have attended and Aaron a Deputy Sheriff in their town, they can’t help but know a bit about the other. Both their previous relationships ended unexpectedly and with the men raising their kids alone. Both men have known they were bisexual, though Aaron has never been with a man before, but neither is out in the community. Watching Larx on his daily shirtless runs has become too much for Aaron to ignore and he finally gets up the nerve to suggest that they becoming running partners. This is where it all starts as the men quickly become friends before getting up the nerve to act on their attractions. As if navigating a new chapter in their personal lives wasn’t enough, tensions in the school and community seem ready to explode as Larx tries to help two students and not lose his job and Aaron investigates two brutal acts of violence.

I want to let out a cheer when authors write books with characters in their late forties (in this case Larx is 47 and Arron is 48) and they act their age. They aren’t treated as elderly, they don’t act like melodramatic teens and they know that love is about more than sex (although there’s plenty of that to be found too). Here, Larx and Aaron may be exploring something new, but they know what they want and aren’t afraid to express it. They work like a team almost from the start, have great banter and shared ideals. As devoted as they are to their nearly grown children, spending close to the last decade not dating, they understand that it’s time that they live their lives as well. When they realize how well they fit together and how much they can each give to the other, both knowing how quickly lives can change, they don’t mess around.

Although Larx and Aaron aren’t new to what it means to be in a relationship, they are new to being in a same-sex relationship. Larx has always been open with his children about his bisexuality, but Aaron never felt the need and worries about how they will handle it. With both of their careers being of a very public nature, they have to deal with the realities of coming out there as well. For Larx this is especially dangerous as he has already seen first-hand what can happen when that information becomes public. There’s no fear between them when it comes to sex even though Aaron has no experience with men. Larx is happy to take the lead and Aaron is a very willing student. It’s fun to watch them try to sneak in a bit of something when there are always so many kids around ready to spoil the moment (this is the one time the men do act like teenagers and it was rather entertaining).

While the relationship itself is fairly drama free, there is a lot going on around the men that could impact their personal and professional futures. In true Amy Lane fashion, the issues raised are serious and the outcomes not always pretty, but the angst in this one isn’t overwhelming. There is murder, assault, bigotry and small town politics all at play here, but it is still one of her lighter romances. The outside pressures of the plotline definitely helped to push forward the romance and bring Aaron and Larx’s families together. With the story spanning just a couple of months from first contact to the epilogue, I think had the situation revolved around younger main characters things may have seemed rushed, but with both men’s histories and their openness about their feelings, it all felt right.

With the alternating POV between Larx and Aaron we get to see both men as fathers, lovers and as very visible members of the community. Family plays a huge role in the story. There are good and horrid family situations depicted and as in many of the author’s other stories, it’s not just blood that creates a family and blood is no guarantee of acceptance.

There are quite a few wonderful secondary characters that have a lot of page time including Larx’s and Aaron’s kids, Larx’s best friend and vice principal Yoshi, and students Isaiah and Kellan who find themselves targeted by the small town’s bigotry and its biggest bully. Kellan’s story in particular will tug at your heart and possibly jerk a few tears from you as well.

Rumor has it there will be more stories to come, and the ending certainly left room for not only more about the changes Larx and Aaron are about to face, but the futures of a few other characters. Not everything is tied up neatly, but even if this is the only story, Larx and Aaron do get their happy ending.