Beneath the Stain // Drugs & Music & Angsty Love

beneath the stain coverAuthor: Amy Lane

Published: October 17th, 2014 by Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 350

Genres: m/m romance // contemporary

*this book contains sexual content and drug use*

The second half of the title says it all, folks. I was looking for something good that could be emotional because I truly enjoy finding books that punch my heart so hard (*cough* masochist? *cough cough*). This didn’t quite hit that high, but it had its emotional areas.  AND ANGST. DRAMA. Some fantastic characters, too. And the music/band element was meshed into this so well. Let’s talk a little deeper about all this.


In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers– and their penchant for making good music when they weren’t getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends—especially Grant Adams–made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind.

Between the heartbreak of leaving Grant and the terrifying, glamorous life of rock stardom, Mackey is adrift and sinking fast. When he’s hit rock bottom, Trav Ford shows up, courtesy of their record company and a producer who wants to see what Mackey can do if he doesn’t flame out first. But cleaning up his act means coming clean about Grant, and that’s not easy to do or say. Mackey might make it with Trav’s help–but Trav’s not sure he’s going to survive falling in love with Mackey.

Mackey James Sanders comes with a whole lot of messy, painful baggage, and law-and-order Trav doesn’t do messy or painful. And just when Trav thinks they may have mastered every demon in Mackey’s past, the biggest, baddest demon of all comes knocking.


Amy Lane is a popular, wonderful writer, very good with descriptions. There isn’t much to the world building because it’s contemporary, so it’s not really necessary! It’s set in the U.S., California, mostly, unless the gang was travelling. Everything flows at medium speed, but sometimes quicker when we jump to events within a lengthy time frame. Originally, this book was released in 7 parts, so it ends up being longer than you expect. Now, if you don’t know already from my quips about other books’ pacing, as a person that reads contemporary rather infrequently (more often lately), I speed-read some of the lengthier parts because I like more events and intensity in my books. I’m biased! But there was just so much drama to get through.

Then again, it’s a story about imperfect young people, discovering who they are, finding their havens in people and music, seeking restitution in some way. And stardom is a rough life.

So drama.

Also, I felt that maybe I just didn’t get some of the slang or ways of speech from these guys? I missed something sometimes in conversations…like occasionally, I just couldn’t gauge what kind of emotion I should have at certain parts and had to figure it out by watching characters reactions. Am I alone in this? *shrugs*


As for the characters, they were awesome and distinctly unique! The characters made this for me. Full of humor and heartache and such love. I love Trav‘s toughness, but his soft heart. As he develops, he realizes he is more emotional, tender, and affectionate than he originally thought (rather cute to watch ;3). He’s a big strong ex-army man with “cannon-size” biceps, but cares so much for his friends, his lover, his boys. I love characters like him.

And from his boys, Mackey is our main guy. He’s had a few rough teenage years with a lover that had to leave him… And it didn’t hit him well. He was deep in the throes of love and it led to a downward spiral into the world of drugs and alcohol. He’s a sweetie, super energetic and funny. Once Trav drags him back from drug hell, he’s a whole new man, loving Trav with all he’s got. And don’t let his tiny frame fool you: he is explosive.

“Trav thought of the song – his song – and the cry from the invisible boy who slept in forgotten corners and lived to make people love him or hate him or anything so long as they didn’t forget his name.”

I will say that I wasn’t expecting Trav and Mackey’s romance to occur so quickly… I think I would’ve preferred it a bit more slow-burn. But goodness, when they embrace, there was heat.

The rest of the gang was awesome. I gotta say, I loved Stevie, Jeff, and Shelia’s whole setup. They were an adorable trio! Kell grew on me as he started opening up and finally getting in on all the secrets, holy cow! Blake wasn’t as developed, but he’s a good friend. And the ever-loved Grant really is a nice man. He loved Mackey well, but I also wanted to punch him for sending Mackey down that road. But everyone learns who they are, who they love, where they want to be in life, eventually.

Warning for the emotional individuals who are prone to a leaky face: there’s a bittersweet part in here that I teared up at. Enjoy!

OK, but, also I really loved the meshing of music in here. Not just that they’re in a band, but when Mackey sings and makes music, it’s described wonderfully. It truly means something to him and the gang. When he’s on stage and “sexing up” the audience and turning Trav on…gold. Mackey has such a way with words *grins wickedly*

So I enjoyed this, but angst and I don’t mesh as well. Or maybe just a certain angst works. I’m not sure yet, haven’t read many angsty books!

My rating:

my rating of 3.5/5





Thanks for reading, worms! Ta-ta for now!

Did you read this book? What did you think? Can you handle angst well? Comment below! (Careful of spoilers, though)

~Photo from Goodreads~


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