Seth Arnold learned at an early age that two things in life could make his soul soar—his violin and Kelly Cruz. In Seth’s uncertain childhood, the kindness of the Cruz family, especially Kelly and his brother, Matty, gave Seth the stability to make his violin sing with the purest sound and opened a world of possibility beyond his home in Sacramento.
Kelly Cruz has loved Seth forever, but he knows Seth’s talents shouldn’t be hidden, not when the world is waiting. Encouraging Seth to follow his music might break Kelly’s heart, but he is determined to see the violin set Seth’s soul free. When their world is devastated by a violent sexual assault and Matty’s prejudices turn him from a brother to an enemy, Seth and Kelly’s future becomes uncertain.
Seth can’t come home and Kelly can’t leave, but they are held together by a love that they clutch with both hands.
Seth and Kelly are young and the world is wide—the only thing they know for certain is they’ll follow their heartstrings to each other’s arms whenever time and fate allow. And pray that one day they can follow that string to forever… before it slices their hearts in two.
Perfectly Imperfect By Amy Lane
It’s no secret that much of my work revolves around family—and they say to write what you know.
One of the things I know—for absolutely positive—is that family is not perfect. Not even the best family can lay claim to perfection. Family is a mixed bag of dicks.
And I love capturing that moment, in which family is both the best and the worst thing to happen to us. Given that, I was particularly proud of this moment between a young Kelly on the verge of running away from home (although everyone knows where he’s going!) and his father, who’s only doing his best.
The next morning Kelly left a note—Going to see him. K. He wanted to say when he’d be back, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t help it. He just didn’t ever want to come back.
But the plan was to go spend the rest of his formative years on Seth’s floor, and it didn’t have a contingency plan for his father pulling up next to him in the family minivan, window rolled down.
Kelly didn’t look up. “No habla English.” Of course the irony was, he didn’t habla Espanol either, because his father didn’t speak it in the house, and he’d taken French in school. All he knew was mijo.
His dad sputtered. “Look, you little dickhead, I’ll pay for your ticket there and back, just get in the damned car!”
Well, shit. On the one hand, it meant he had to come back. On the other, it meant he’d have more money for food if he went with the living-in-Seth’s-dorm option.
“Coffee on the way?” he bargained, and his dad laughed.
He got in the car, and Dad threw him a hat—something his grandma had knit for… well, anyone in the family who would wear it. It was made with big chunky yarn and had flecks of something pink in it.
“Really?” Kelly asked, eyeing the hat.
“Did you bring one of your own?” Dad asked pointedly.
“It’s cold outside. You forget your own hat, I provide. Also, are you insane?”
Kelly grunted. “Seth does it sometimes.”
“Yes. This is true. But Seth didn’t walk out the door one night and almost not come back!”
“He did too,” Kelly said. “He did too, and you know it. And this time, I needed to be somewhere with him where we can walk outside for a change. I….” He let out a little grunt. “It’s not fair.”
“I’ve been looking at JC’s, you know, near Northridge or San Francisco. So we can….” This sounded so grown-up. “So we can live together and go to school.”
“We’d miss you,” his dad said, sighing. “I’m not ready yet. Definitely not ready for Matty to be grown-up. Seriously not ready for you to grow up either. You’re only sixteen.”
“Well….” Kelly looked out the window into the foggy streets. “I’ll be seventeen when I graduate. If we were rich and shit, you’d be sending me away to a college, never to see me again.”
“Screw that,” his dad muttered. “There’s, like, no way!”
Kelly laughed then, with all his heart, because his dad sounded about sixteen himself.
So that was an epic love story. I wasn’t totally prepared for the length of the book and the length of time it covered, but it was worth it. Spanning close to 20 years, we follow Seth and Kelly from the third (Kelly) and fourth (Seth) grades when they were picked to learn violin in school. For Seth, that violin changed his life.
Kelly realizes way before Seth that he is gay and in love with Seth. So once they reach the teen years, Kelly kisses Seth- and they never look back. But Kelly’s older brother- Seth’s former best friend- turns on them with homophobic vitriol he learned at his new girlfriend’s church.
I love how the romantic relationship between Seth and Kelly started out bumbling and a bit awkward, because they were just kids, to knowing what they wanted from each other and asking for it
There is A LOT in this book. Seth’s dad, Kelly’s whole family of parents, several sisters and the brother who now hates him. But through it all is Kelly and Seth and Seth’s violin.
It seems as if everything in the universe is trying to keep them apart, but they muddle through. Basically having a long distance relationship for years and years, getting by with short, hidden visits, text, email and Skype.
There is quite a bit of tragedy in the book. Which just add to the forces keeping them apart. But what starts out as naivete of two teens determined to stay together turns into two men understanding their responsibilities but refusing to give up.
There were a few time line hiccups for me and a couple “but why?” moments, but I really enjoyed following this love story over such a long period of time.
If you are an Amy Lane fan or a fan of epic love stories, this one is for you.
4 pieces of eye candy
Amy Lane lives in a crumbling crapmansion with a couple of growing children, a passel of furbabies, and a bemused spouse. She’s been nominated for a RITA, has won honorable mention for an Indiefab, and has a couple of Rainbow Awards to her name. 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 gay 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.