Making Promises by Amy Lane
All Shane Perkins ever wanted to be was a hero. But after a career-shattering decision to go down fighting, Shane comes home from the hospital to four empty walls, a pile of money, and a burning desire for someone to miss him the next time he gets hurt in the line of duty. He ends up an officer in the small town of Levee Oaks, and, addicted to the promise of family, he makes an effort to reconcile with his flighty, troubled sister. Kimmy makes her living as a dancer, and her partner steals Shane’s breath at first sight.
Mikhail Vasilyovitch Bayul dances like an angel, but his past is less than heavenly. Since he left Russia, he’s made only two promises: to stay off the streets and stay clean, and to take his mother someplace beautiful before she dies. Making promises to anybody else is completely out of the question—but then, Mikhail has never met anybody like Shane. Earnest, brave, and self-deprecating, Shane seems to speak Mikhail’s language, and no one is more surprised than Mikhail to find that keeping promises is Shane’s best talent of all.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think this book suffers in comparison to Keeping Promise Rock due to high expectations. On its own, this is probably a fine book but I definitely found my attention wandering and getting bored with this offering. The story is decent but feels too artificial. There are too many obstacles thrown in just to create more and more tension, but only a few of those issues feel real. The rest feel manufactured to keep the story going when it feels settled at the halfway point. I also found Shane to be a boring character and struggled to care about his path to happiness. While this is definitely a good book and I liked it, it ended up not as engaging as the previous book and I never laughed or cried.
The story picks up a few months before the ending of KPR. Shane, the quiet cop from the previous book, is given the staring role as his past is explained. We’re told how Shane was outed in the LAPD and subsequently almost killed. Once given a large payoff for his pain and suffering, Shane heads to a smaller, more homophobic town in hopes of…well doing something. Once there, he becomes part of the Deacon/Crick family and meets a sexy, stubborn, skittish Russian dancer named Mikhail. The story follows Shane’s courting of Mikhail from their first date to promises of forever.
Once again there’s no question that Lane can write a great story. This character driven piece offers well developed characters, a good story line, deep emotional connections, and an easy pace and prose that turns the pages quickly and effortlessly. The book can be read on its own but I wouldn’t recommend it only because the various characters from the first book are littered all over this story and they mean more if you have the background already. Although at the same time, perhaps not reading the first book will save you from any expectations. Either way this is a solid story that is steeped in romance and the search for a happy ever after.
The main characters this time are Shane and Mikhail. Shane is definitely the more bland one of the two with his wealth, generosity, sensitivity, and intuition. He’s near perfect. He constantly describes himself as a weirdo and awkward yet these descriptions feel false since he never really acts weird or awkward. He’s definitely shy and quiet but his self descriptions never made much sense and felt like a way to give the character a flaw that didn’t really exist. Shane always says the right thing, does the right thing, never harbors a grudge or gets upset when Mikhail treats him poorly. He continually forgives Mikhail and gives the other man constant love, acceptance, and forgiveness. He becomes incredibly predictable too, which let my attention wander when the scenes felt repetitive (Mikhail freaks out and Shane forgives).
Mikhail on the other hand is the real star as a cagey, disgruntled, prima donna that is so scared of life and pain that he causes himself problems. He’s complicated, difficult, a total pain in the ass yet interesting to read. His actions feel fresh and interesting since you’re never sure just how he’ll react. He could be sweet or angry, he could be dismissive or caring. Either way he’s in love with Shane but he feels more real and less robotic. Of course Mikhail has enough color and personality to outshine nearly everyone in the cast so it’s not too surprising he fits with someone bland.
The other issue I had is that the story throws in conflict after conflict. Some of these feel authentic and good sources of tension – such as Mikhail’s initial reluctance to date and his fears along with Mikhail’s dying mother, who is a fabulous character – but soon after there seems to be additional issues just to prolong the story. The sub plot about Shane’s sister is silly and unimportant, just throwing in tension that doesn’t add much to the story; especially the last scene with Shane’s ex is unnecessary and made me roll my eyes. It doesn’t make any sense and doesn’t fit the story. The flip side to that are the great scenes that add texture and life to the story such as the family dinners, the recurring cast members, the faires and atmosphere. Here the author’s strengths are shown in bringing these characters and scenes to life. For me they made up for the other issues and kept my attention on the story and wanting to read.
Overall the sequel doesn’t live up to the original in my opinion but it’s a good story on its own. As always I look forward to the next book in the series but I think the greatness of KPR may never be duplicated.
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