A Beneath the Stain Novel
Everybody thinks Mackey Sanders’s Outbreak Monkey is the last coming of Rock ’n’ Roll Jesus, but Cheever Sanders can’t wait to make a name for himself where nobody expects him to fill his famous brothers’ shoes. He’s tired of living in their shadow.
Blake Manning has been one of Outbreak Monkey’s lead guitarists for ten years. He got this gig on luck and love, not talent. So hearing that Cheever is blowing through Outbreak Monkey’s hard-earned money in an epic stretch of partying pisses him off.
Blake shows up at Cheever’s nonstop orgy to enforce some rules, but instead of a jaded punk, he finds a lost boy as talented at painting as Mackey is at song-making, and terrified to let anybody see the real him. Childhood abuse and a suicide attempt left Cheever on the edge of survival—a place Blake knows all too well.
Both men have to make peace with being second banana in the public eye. Can they find the magic of coming absolute first with each other?
And the Children Shall Lead Us By Amy Lane
So I admit it—this story has nothing to do with the actual plot of the book I’m pimping but it might make you laugh, and that’s good too.
When I wrote Beneath the Stain, I chose all of the chapter titles from classic rock songs—I had a browser open to Rolling Stone’s top 500 rock and roll songs for about two months, and boy, did I fall down some rabbit holes. For Paint it Black, I figured since it was a smaller story than Beneath the Stain, I would only focus on one artist for the chapter titles, to maybe help me narrow my focus. The title was one of the Rolling Stone’s most iconic hits, so I went with the Stones.
So for a month and a half, all my family heard–in the car, at my desk, when I was doing the dishes—was the Rolling Stones. In particular, “Paint it Black.”
My son, ZoomBoy, was particularly enthralled. “What is this music, Mother? How might I get me some of that on my Spotify account?”
And suddenly it wasn’t just me, it was both of us. And for a little while, I thought that was fine. I had my family with me, right? I mean, he learned to whistle so he could whistle the riff! That was awesome!
And then, one night, after I’d finished the book and had moved on to the next Fish, his father and I were sitting, watching television, and I heard… well, I wasn’t sure.
We frowned at each other.
“What is that?” he asked.
“It’s ZoomBoy—does he need anything?” I said.
“Forget does he need anything—is he sacrificing small animals and singing an unholy hymn?”
I listened for another moment. “Mmmaybe…”
Both of us listened again. “What in the furry hell?”
“Do you think we’re safe in our sleep?” I asked.
Mate laughed uncomfortably. “Sure. I’ll be sure to wake you if he comes after us with a knife.”
Now, before anybody sends sage to burn, or an exorcist to my address, I want you all to look up the lyrics to “Paint it Black.” Dark stuff, right? Painting shit black? Serial killer fantasies? Now imagine that song being sung by a tone-deaf fifteen-year-old in the shower, echoing through three rooms in a small house.
Yup. Scared the shit out of us.
And then ZoomBoy came out of the bathroom, still humming, and Mate and I met eyes again—and started laughing our asses off.
“I blame you,” Mate said.
“Go ahead—I’m still having nightmares about satanic cults and live sacrifice!”
“That’s fine—you can always write another genre,” he told me, and then hit play, and we went back to our regularly scheduled programming.
But that song has stuck with us. Right now? As I was writing this? I turned on the song, for old time’s sake.
When the song ended, ZoomBoy was still whistling along.
It sticks with you—as I hope Blake and Cheever will stick with you too. I know those boys ripped my heart out in the good way, and not in the live sacrifice way. But they put it back in again, and that’s why it’s romance instead of horror.
We’ll save the horror for ZoomBoy.
Before we go any further, two things.
1. Read the first book Beneath the Stain. Rock stars and angst galore. And you have to read book 1 to really understand book 2
2. These books are a committment. Book 1 is over 650 pages. This book is 500 pages. Just giving you a heads up.
Moving on to the review, let’s assume you’ve read book 1, mmkay?
Approximately 10 years has passed between books. Our boys are old, wiser, still sober, husbands and fathers. Mackey and Grant have gotten married and he still manages the band. And now the focus is on Cheever, the youngest Sanders brother. too young to join the band at the time, he focused on art. He is about to graduate college, but a harsh review of his art makes him snap and he sets out to destroy himself.
Blake, always feeling like the outsider in the band and Cheever, the outsider with the brothers bond and bond quickly. Together they work to not only validate each other but also to validate their places in the band, in the house and in the family.
Ugh they poor boys are so damaged. And they held most of that damage inside for 10 years. While I am not surprised it took Cheever that long to snap, I am surprised that Blake held it in so long.
Throughout the book we see not only Cheever and Blake fall in love, but Cheever accept the love of his brothers again. He was so closed off he had no idea how much they wanted him in their lives. It was sweet but also really sad.
I do think that Cheever and Blake were a bit codependant with each other. Especially Cheever. Not for nothin, I don’t care how rich you are, they aren’t going to let someone who isn’t in treatment spend the night with you in rehab.
I really loved seeing the band, Grant and the wives so settled into their lives. They were grown ups! Ok, the wives did kind of really fulfill gender stereotypes that wasn’t totally necessary. Sorry, boys. Kick in and help in the kitchen a little more.
Yes, I am a picky bitch. Sue me.
I still really enjoyed this book. Not as much as the first, but so worth the read.
4 Pieces of Candy