Behind the Curtain

Amy Lane
Behind the Curtain
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Release Date
January 2014
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they'll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.

But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory's head.

Aloof dance superstar Jared is a sweet, vulnerable man and Dawson's life suits him like a fitted ballet slipper. They forge a long-distance romance from their love of the theater and the magic of Denny's. At first it's perfect: Dawson gets periodic visits and nookie from a gorgeous man who "gets" him—and Jared gets respite from the ultra-competitive world of dancing that almost consumed him.

That is until Jared shows up sick and desperate and Dawson finally sees the distance between them concealed painful things Jared kept inside. If he doesn't grow up—and fast—his "superstar" might not survive his own weaknesses. That would be a shame, because the real, fragile Jared that Dawson sees behind the curtain is the person he can see spending his life with.

Book Review by Pat Henshaw (author,reviewer)
Feb 14, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
153 people found the following review helpful
This quick, energetic fairytale of a small town boy and a ballet star falling in love has so many plot holes that readers might want to wear hip boots to wade through it. Since it's written by Amy Lane, whose prose style is easy breezy, however, the journey is predictably smooth.

Backstage crew members Dawson Barnes and Benji Gomez, who've been best friends since childhood, are bowled over when Los Angeles Ballet star Jared Emory comes to their small community college outside Sacramento, California, to perform. They're even more stunned when Jared asks them to run lights and sound for a ballet workshop that Jared gives for Downs Syndrome dance students.

Afterward Dawson and Benji hang out with Jared, whom they scoop into their circle of family and friends. Jared easily drops his superstar attitude and becomes their friend and Dawson's lover and eventually boyfriend. Initially because Jared is lonely, but finally because gay Dawson and straight Benji are best-friend-brothers whose laissez faire attitude attracts and comforts the lost and lonely.

Predictably since Dawson's twenty and Jared's twenty-six when the book begins, the road to their happiness together is littered with problems. Jared has a grueling performance schedule and Dawson is trying to get the last few credits before he transfers to a four-year college. Dawson and Benji are all but fused at the hip while Jared lives in a tiny L. A. apartment with four guys who have no connection with one another, adding to his loneliness.

Unlike other Lane books, however, the main characters don't quite gel into true human beings. It's as if this book is a slapdash affair. What the god-like Jared sees in the jug-eared, pixie-nosed Dawson other than Dawson's wonderful father and terrific friends is hard to see since Dawson spends a majority of the time in starstruck fan mode when around Jared.

Even more difficult is what Dawson sees in Jared, other than Jared's enormous talent and a project that needs attention and fixing. Once Dawson realizes that Jared is lonely and that Dawson can alleviate his loneliness with sex, the dynamic changes into Dawson taking care of Jared like a mother hen instead of two equal individuals falling in love.

In fact, even though Benji has a girlfriend, supposedly the love of his life, his relationship with Dawson seems more truly lover-like than Dawson's relationship with Jared. Although Dawson has his first gay sex with Jared, Dawson has a rock-solid friendship, not a sexual or caretaker relationship, with Benji.

I'm a longtime fan of Amy Lane and was eager to read this book. However, while it was easy to read, it will never be a favorite of mine because unlike Lane's other books, this one glides over hard issues like Jared's relationship with his family and his lack of friends instead of meeting them head on.
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