Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 95 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Mackey is great at taking a leap of faith into a crowd—but taking one into a relationship and a future is a totally different animal. When he and Trav decide to take a risk that Mackey’s healing can hold up to them together, they know it’s going to be a long, difficult road. Mackey proves he can handle the stress of performing on his own, but when it comes to the demons that broke him in the first place, that’s a whole other song.
The first time Mackey tries to go home, it sends him into a palm-sweating, stomach-heaving anxiety attack, and Trav has to concede that Mackey is still on loan from the things that almost wrecked him when he was still a kid. When news arrives that affects the entire band, Mackey can either go home and face his demons or let them haunt them forever.
Review: Beneath the Stain is Amy Lane at her absolute finest; just the right balance of angst, happiness, supporting characters, sex, drugs, and rock & roll… It makes me wish I had time to go back to read some of my favorites from her. But, of course, I don’t have time. Gah!
Part Five nudged right up to the excellence bar Ms. Lane set in the first four parts. Seriously, I wish this would go on for years. But, every reader wishes their favorite authors would write more, faster. We are a demanding lot, aren’t we?
We find Mackey trying to continue living his sobriety in the real world. He marks his 45th day on the outside in a way that the other band members get on board with quickly. He is also experiencing his first time away from Trav since they became a couple, as he is away trying to do managerial things in Europe.
Part Five also sees Outbreak Monkey performing for the first time since Mackey and Blake went into rehab. They have a large tour coming up in a few months, and this is to be their test run. Though there are hurdles, more good than bad comes of this show.
Two things leapt out at me in this wonderful installment: Mackey makes his first friend. Yes, first. Friend. He is always surrounded by people, but they are brothers, band mates, sex partners, fans or lackeys. Now, he has someone other than Trav who really understands him and knows precisely how to interact with him from the second they meet. It is so great to see the joy that comes with this discovery. Trav is over the moon that Mackey has someone other than him to rely on, not because he wants a break but because he knows that the more people who accept and love Mackey for himself, the better.
The most important development for me was Kell’s eye-opening discovery. Last Christmas, the band had left Tyson and was doing their thing. Mackey was too drugged out to go home for a visit. It’s Christmas again and this is to be the first time he goes home since they left, but he has a panic attack and can’t get on the plane. Without giving too much away to those of you who are waiting for 10/17/14 when the novel is released to read this masterpiece, there were secrets kept from Kell that everyone else has been told or has figured out on their own. In the aftermath of the panic attack, Kell finds out about the big one.
It was painful to me to feel Kell’s reaction. It wasn’t so much his feeling left out or that he felt he should have been told before now, it was his pain, deep and agonizing, that he wasn’t there for Mackey as a big brother. That Mackey felt he had to hide this from him for all these years because of the way Kell made him feel, I was literally picturing him sitting there with a hangdog expression on his face looking at Trav and realizing that he was (in his mind) responsible for every terrible thing that had ever happened to Mackey, up to and including his addiction. It was excruciating reading, beautifully written. Amazing Amy Lane.