Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane ~ Review by Marc

First I want to thank Dreamspinner Press, for providing me with an ARC of my favorite author Amy Lane. I’ve recently had to deaths in the family. Just when I came from the funeral of my 32 year old cousin, who dropped dead on Christmas day, Suddenly my uncle died as well. So while this review comes out a bit late due to not being able to read a lot, I cannot tell you guys how good it was  to read such a wonderful, well-written story of love and how much it comforted me at night, when I had to comfort my mother during the day. So THANK YOU, a good book truly is a friend!!! And this friend as well as all of you guys on this blog and your nice comments really helped me through a very rough beginning of this new year!

BehindTheCurtain_postcard_front_DSPSo, yes, Behind the Curtain is definitively an AWESOME book and as such,

I would love it is some of you would visit DSP to give it a try.



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.


The facts: This 266 pgs book was released on January 6th, 2013 by Dreamspinner Press.

The cover: I love the cover!!! It is dark, enigmatic, mysterious, beautiful, intriguing! You see what’s shown in front of the curtains in a little beam of light, but everything else is in darkness. You can’t even see the guy’s face, it’s like he is anonymous and you can only see the grace of his movements and the beauty of his body. For this one moment this guy is a god, one moment of light, of admiration and love. It fits with the story so well, a perfect and darkly beautiful cover image by artist Anne Cain.

The title: The title seems perfect to me as well after reading this novel! The cover showed everything that is in front of the curtain, but what will break your heart in this novel is what happens behind it!


The story: The cover, title and story fit together perfectly; I absolutely love when that happens <3

At first I must admit, this novel felt a bit different. When I just started it I remember telling Brandilyn that something about this style felt new, fresh. Though I had really wanted an “old-style-Amy” book. I have read a few more recent books by my favorite authors that seemed to cater more to those who are allergic to angst. For me, Amy Lane is the queen of angst, though, and I have been waiting for her return to return to the “Angst and Pain, Amy Lane” glory days, even though I love having some angst-free titles of my favorite author that I can recommend to those, who could never read a story like “Chase in Shadow”. This feels almost like the uber-angst amy from the golden days, but seems to be more of a compromise to be inclusive for those, who can’t handle stories that are too angsty. Therefore, there’s a lot of angst, but much of it is seen from the POV of a very optimistic main character, which balances it out a bit.

This book is near perfection for me and I even rounded it up to a 5 star rating on Goodreads, because there is NO WAY I’m rounding down!!!

In the beginning, we meet to best friends. They are extremely close and have stuck together since they were kids. Nothing could separate them; not the teachers trying to set them apart, not the very different guys they grew up to be nor the revelation that one of them was straight and one of them was gay. This strong friendship that is closer to a brotherhood really reminded me of Keeping Promise Rock, my personal M/M favorite. The relationship between Deacon and his best friend that never wavered, even after they realized that as much as they wanted, their relationship couldn’t be taken any further, because just as Deacon couldn’t help being attracted to both boys and girls, his friend just wasn’t attracted to guys. But even with the initial awkwardness of that moment and the moment the two best friends in this book have, the friends stick together come what may. I love this about Amy Lane. Friendship and loyalty are very important to me. When I was young I found four friends for life. We stuck together when some of us had to change schools, we stuck together when I had to leave for the US for four years, when we all grew into very different individuals, when everyone found girlfriends and I suddenly introduced a boyfriend… This kind of friendship without anything sexual in it feels so powerful to me and I thank Amy Lane wholeheartedly, for creating such powerful characters and friendships.

Talking about friendships and strong secondary characters, I LOVE the family of friends that Amy Lane creates. Even when the writing style was slightly different for me, this is the point I would have realized who the author was. I have read no other author in any genre (and that means not just limited to M/M or GLBTQ literature), who can create such a wonderful chosen family of characters. They are very diverse in personality and look, and all flawed in their own way, but as a reader you wished to have such friends and to be allowed to hang with them. Benji is not just looking for any girlfriend,  he knows he needs someone who gets the special bond he and his best friend Dawson have. And they don’t just dismiss “the goth girl”, but see that she is really capable and has a good heart. Instead of letting her be invisible and silent, they realize that she needs someone to accept her for who she is and make her part of the family.

This awesome acceptance and love was also something very new for the famous and enormously talented Jared Emory. In comparison to the gracious Benji and his jock looks, Dawson may be smarter, but very awkward with his stumbling movements. So he was mesmerized by the dance god and couldn’t believe that Jared could have any interest in him. At first this romance felt like Amy Lane’s Making Promises, In that a sarcastic and rather cold dancer falls in love with a good-hearted, awkward guy. But it becomes soon clear to the reader, that reader isn’t really that hard personality he puts on as a mask. He is very lonely and very vulnerable underneath the hard and polished outside that others expect from him. There are so many sacrifices that Jared makes to become this dancing god that there’s almost nothing of himself left. Can Dawson fall in love with and save him, even though he is scared to give his first time to a guy who is always on the move and lives far away?

I know how things went behind the curtain, even in High School. In the exam time we had so many theater practices that we all stayed up longer than healthy to learn and get all the homework done. With too much sleep and in too close quarters, everyone usually got the flu and there were mothers handing out medication like candy and there was a bucket behind the stage, so we could go out, be perfect, go in again and be sick. The show must go on!!! Seeing how much worse this gets in the professional sphere, I got really angry with many of the people enabling it in this book. People are destroying themselves to be perfect for that small moment, but is it really worth it if nothing else is left?

I love how optimistic and just GOOD Dawson is. It is easy to see for anyone that he doesn’t need to have the body of a professional athlete or the grace of a dancer to be someone everyone should be lucky to be with. He is witty, smart and has such a big heart that it would be hard for anyone to resist him. I loved, though, that he wasn’t one of those characters completely defined but the attention of others. He didn’t start to life, just because the famous dancer looked at him and start to grow like a flower in the first beam of life, turning to follow the sun wherever it went. Dawson might have been a bit naive before meeting Jared, but he wasn’t helpless or clueless.

Dawson and Benji are both alone in the beginning, but they know it would be only a question of time before one of them found someone and priorities would have to change and things would be different. Dawson realizes that a longterm relationship will be difficult and he makes sure they are both on the same page about what he wants and expects. All characters in this novel make some mistakes and there are consequences for those mistakes, but it seems realistic and makes them into more believable characters that are easy to root for and fall in love with.

Sometimes I felt like the characters wasted some opportunities to resolve issues they had in a more open and easy way, but I guess we are all blind to our own flaws and therefore opportunities to overcome them at times, so that makes them very human, as well.

This book will make you laugh and cry. Some angst, some humor, a lot of love and friendship and quirky lovable characters you will helplessly fall for. It’s just a really great, comfortable read!!! Go over to DSP now and get a copy, I swear it’s worth the trip 😉

Thank you for all the great comments. We really do appreciate it!!!


Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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10 thoughts on “Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane ~ Review by Marc

  1. Thank you for the review. The blurb sounds interesting but I was kind of put off from the way Dawson and Jared’s relationship was described. I love a book that has good family and friend atmosphere. I also love seeing character growth.

  2. Hi Marc,

    First off I’m very sorry for your recent losses – it’s never easy to lose a loved one and having to experience two losses in a matter of days had to be tough. I have to say how much I liked your review. Amy is an auto-buy for me but I really enjoyed the depth of your review and how you added your own experiences and personal touch. Thanks so much.

    • Thank you so much. It was a bit of a rough start into the new year, but I’m glad to have you guys in my corner 😉

      Glad you liked the review and didn’t mind the inclusion of the personal experiences this story made me think of

  3. My condolences to you and your family on your two personal losses. Amy Lane is one of my favorite authors too. I still have a number of her books in my huge TBR pile, including this one that I need to read.

  4. So sorry to hear of the death of your family members Marc. Hope you have lots of good memories of both.
    I have seen this book a few places and it does sound good – verified by your review

  5. Hey Marc, sorry to hear about your losses. So glad Amy seems to have gotten her writing mojo back, this is in the queue on the kindle together with Ethan in Gold. I adored Christmas Kitsch and Going Up, but was slightly disappointed with the final Promises Rock book and the 2 that followed that, but hey, everyone’s entitled to an off day or two!! ♥

    • Really liked “Ethan in Gold”, but “Dex in Blue” is one of my all time favs and my expectations were so high that book 3 simply couldn’t match up to them. For me it was too much story we already know for the sake of nostalgia instead of scenes after Dex or more time with the main couple of the book. But it’s absolutely worth the read, there’s this one scene about a chocolate bunny that’s just.. *ROFL*

      I heard great things about Christmas Kitsch, but I didn’t get to it in my crazy Christmas season (brother’s wedding, parents 30 years anniversary, gradpa’s 80th birthday, 4 other family birthdays, Christmas and New Year’s – Gosh 😉 No wonder I’m broke *g*

      I actually enjoyed the Promises book – it felt more like a love letter to fans, though, than a title that can stand on it’s own. For me it was a very nice goodbye, though 😉

  6. Thank you guys for all the condolences. I have to look on the bright side: My cousin was able to save someone’s life with her young and healthy organs and my uncle was in a lot of pain before he died, so I’m glad he didn’t have to suffer more. Still, not easy, but you guys really help a lot. Thanks!!!

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