Fall Through Spring
When we meet Mason Hayes, we realize right off he’s sort of a dork. He’s like a perpetually horny Fred MacMurray with a runaway mouth. But one of Mason’s redeeming features is his devotion to his brother, Dane.
Dane, we learn in book two, has bipolar, and we see—mostly off page—a depression spiral that throws Mason’s entire life into an uproar, and we root for Mason to not only make his romance work, but to get his little brother back. When Dane is whole and well, he’s a funny, warm, fiercely loyal part of Mason’s life.
I knew that seeing this character from a closer point of view—from the POV of the guy who wouldn’t get out of bed for a month, from the POV of the guy who loved him and kicked his ass out anyway—was going to be rough.
“Mental illness is the suck,” Dane’s love interest says at the beginning. “I’m sorry you have to deal with that. But I’m glad you’re here to game with me tonight.”
And that pretty much sums up how Clay and Mason has to deal with Dane—one up, and one down at a time.
Clay’s experience is mine—people I love dearly have been hurt by imperfect brain chemistry, and it’s our job to love those people through the highs and the lows, and know that the person we care about truly does balance out to a lovely human being in the middle. Upswings are exhausting, and downswings are worse—but as long as the person we love is in there, underneath the balance of medication and human being, the results of unconditional love are unconditionally worth it.
Dane has been grappling with his illness for years—his parents have helped him since his diagnosis, and his brother has taken on that role since he moved away from home. Falling in love hasn’t been on his agenda since his stay in the psych ward, when he originally balanced his medication, because he knows the seductiveness of putting his happiness in the hands of the wrong kind of person.
When Clay puts off their relationship because he’s the right kind of person, Dane is frustrated at first, and then hurt—but when Clay’s devotion sees the test of time through Dane’s absolute worst, Dane comes out on the other side with a fragile confidence. Anybody who can see him through the worst of what his illness has to offer is someone who, just might, come through for him as a lover and not just a friend.
Dane is just like Clay—a twined rosebush of good and bad, with enough thorns on the branches to make it impossible to sort them out.
Dane’s romance was never going to be easy. I know people wanted to see him fall in love—he’s funny and charming, and can be a laugh riot when he’s on an upswing. But just like Carpenter, if we’re going to love Dane, we need to love all of him—and know that the hard parts are worth it, because the person we’re loving is, at his soul, an amazing companion with a good heart.
I loved writing him—and I thought Carpenter was a good match. I hope people adore him like I did.
A Winter Ball Novel
As far as Clay Carpenter is concerned, his abusive relationship with food is the best thing he’s got going. When a good friend starts kicking his ass into gear, Clay is forced to reexamine everything he learned about food and love—and that’s right when he meets troubled graduate student, Dane Hayes.
Dane Hayes doesn’t do the whole monogamy thing, but the minute he meets Clay Carpenter, he’s doing the friend thing in spades. The snarky, scruffy bastard not only gets Dane’s wacky sense of humor, he also accepts the things Dane can’t control—like the bipolar disorder Dane has been trying to manage for the past six years.
Dane is hoping for more than friendship, and Clay is looking at him with longing that isn’t platonic. They’re both positive they’re bad at relationships, but with the help of forbidden desserts and new medication regimens, they prove outstanding at being with each other. But can they turn their friendship into the love neither of them has dared to hope for?
Amy Lane lives in a crumbling crapmansion with a couple of growing children, a passel of furbabies, and a bemused spouse. Two of her books have received a RITA nomination, she’s 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.