Marc reviews the audiobook version of ‘Bolt Hole’ by Amy Lane. The book was released by Dreamspinner Press on March 26th, 2013 and is 246 pages long. The audiobook was released on August 27th, 2014, narrated by Nick J. Russo and is 8 hours long.
This audiobook was provided free of charge by the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.
Why I read this book: I think it is pretty well-known that Amy Lane is my favorite author. This is one of the books that had been on my Amy Lane TBR list for a while. I’m always glad when books I wanted to read for a long time are released as audiobooks, because it gives me another reason to grab them. I love to relax and just enjoy as someone else narrates the book to me.
Terrell Washington’s childhood was a trifecta of suck: being black, gay, and poor in America has no upside. Terrell climbed his way out of the hood only to hit a glass ceiling and stop, frozen, a chain restaurant bartender with a journalism degree. His one bright spot is Colby Meyers, a coworker who has no fear, no inhibitions, and sees no boundaries. Terrell and Colby spend their summers at the river and their breaks on the back dock of Papiano’s. As terrified as Terrell is of coming out, he’s helpless to stay away from Colby’s magnetic smile and contagious laughter.
But Colby is out of college now, and he has grand plans for the future – plans Terrell is sure will leave his scrawny black ass in the Sacramento dust until a breathless moment stolen from the chaos of the restaurant tells Terrell he might be wrong. When the moment is shattered by a mystery and an act of violence, Terrell and Colby are left with two puzzles: who killed their scumbag manager, and how to fit their own lives – the black and the white of them – into a single shining tomorrow.
I will freely admit that I was not quite sure what a bolt-hole was and it thus was hard for me to associate anything with the title.
Here is the Merriam-Webster definition:
: a safe or restful place
: a place where you can hide or escape from something that is dangerous or unpleasant
Having listened to the audiobook that seems perfect. The bolt-hole in question is Terrell and Colby’s refuge; a place where they cannot be seen and judged and where they can just be who they are. Where they can be alone and safe. It is also the place where they are when something violent happens and brings a certain danger into their safe-zone. The title is short and easy-to-remember and fits perfectly for the story, even if I didn’t know the word and as a result wasn’t really drawn to the book by the title, but by the amazingly talented author who wrote the book and has earned my trust again and again.
Two very hot guys in a very peaceful setting grace this cover. It looks nice, but I didn’t really know what kind of story to expect from that and it did not really GRAB my attention. As I said before, though, Amy Lane has earned the kind of trust that makes me buy and read her books regardless of any outside factors. I know I will always enjoy her stories. I also must mention how cool it is to see a black character on a cover. I see a lot of books on a daily basis and it is sadly kinda rare.
My favorite narrator is still Sean Crisden, when he is in top form and takes his time. However, when there are accents like in this book or Amy Lane’s own ‘Racing for the Sun’ I know that Nick J. Russo will do an amazing job. Creating authentic accents can’t be an easy thing and there are many narrators who fail in their efforts or don’t even try and narrate a highly accented work without any accent.
Including accents is very deliberate and in my opinion it is a very important part of the tone of any novel. I really appreciate that Dreamspinner Press and Amy Lane made sure a narrator with the ablity to do the characters justice in this regard was chosen.
It’s not just the accents, though. The narration is very well-done in all aspects and I was thoroughly satisfied. It is a wonderful thing to be able to close your eyes and disappear into another world. Right now, I am listening to Amy Lane’s ‘Beneath the Stain’ audiobook by the same narrator and he is consistently brilliant in all his narrations.
It’s Amy Lane time again 🙂 I had no clue what to expect from this book. Before finding M/M Romance, I read mysteries/ Sci-Fi and Fantasy almost exclusively. I was really interested in how my favorite author would handle a mystery. Well, it was a good setting for the story as the murder-mystery contributed an outside element of danger. Generally, though, it is not the main focus.
Instead Bolt-Hole was a book that dared to make important statements about topics like racism and poverty. I love that she has included an authentic, intelligent young man with a difficult past, who struggles just like any other person to find his right path and to find himself. He has fears that keep him back and had to experience bad luck and injustice and every part of his difficult journey has shaped him and made him who he is.
Even though he is stuck in a job without future and hasn’t managed to turn his university degree in journalism into a career, it was obvious to me that there was more to him than met the eye. Some of it darker than expected, but everything came together to form a well-rounded character.
The fact that he is black certainly brought additional challenges for him and it is easy to understand his anger and unfortunately still so very current. No wonder that he has a hard time accepting that he is gay, when it seems like just one more thing to seperate him from the rest and make his life even harder.
Colby on the other hand is very open and a very positive influence. He seems calm and optimistic and is a light in Terrells world. He is funny and charming and even though Terrell wants to deny it, that charm is not lost on him and he has feelings for his best friend.
They both have their own fears about being gay and facing that truth, but they just can’t fight their attraction and chemistry.
I have often talked to authors and wondered why so many of the characters in M/M Romance were white. I realized there is a big fear not just that books with non-white main-characters don’t sell as well, but that some people get automatically offended when an author even tries to include main characters with different cultural backgrounds and a different skin color than the author.
Of course a character should never be based off stereotypes, but at no point in this book did I have such a feeling.
Above all other things, this is a story about two people in love. It shows that love is stronger than gender expectations, hatred, fear, racism, homophobia, anger and frustration.
Both characters have their own demons to fight, their own fears and their own reasons for not being true to their own desires. Even when they realize their feelings towards each other are more than merely friendly, they struggle with everything they could loose if they are honest with themselves and the world.
In the end though, when outside forces crash into their happy bubble and make them see what they have in each other and what they could loose, they realize just how important and valuable love is and that they can’t let their fears win.
I love when main protagonists come from different worlds, see the world in a different way, are opposites, but just fit together and widen each other’s horizons. This book is meaningful and thought-provoking and features two authentic characters in a beautiful love story. Even though the ‘whodunit’ subplot seemed mostly a tool to show the characters what they could loose and introduce some external conflicts and danger, it does so successfully.
I really hope you guys will give this story a try and won’t automatically dismiss it, just because a white, straight woman dared to write an authentic, black, gay character. This is a great story, a great romance with great characters and in the end that’s what counts for me and why I can strongly recommend this book.
8.5 out of 10 pots of gold/ 4.25 out of 5 stars. 85 percent recommended 😉
Amy Lane has two kids in college, two gradeschoolers in soccer, two cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and m/m romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.