Title: Candy Man
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 136 pages
Rating: A List
Blurb: Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he’s taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that’s to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.
Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he’s applying to Candy Heaven and decides he’s much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.
But Finn is tenacious, and Adam’s new boss, Darrin, doesn’t take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.
Review: I love Amy Lane’s writing; truly, deeply, achingly. She is amazingly talented and I’ve yet to read one of her stories that didn’t make me cry. But there will always be a special affection for her holiday stories. They rip up my heart so sweetly and beautifully yet remain hopeful and tender.
Adam is beautiful and broken when he walks into Candy Heaven. He’s running on fumes and desperate to change his life. And he does, spectacularly, with hard work, courage and a lot of help from his friends.
“No,” Adam said thoughtfully. “See, the way me and Clopper see it, it’s one thing to deal with a bad situation ’cause that’s what you got stuck with from the very beginning. But if you’re making a fresh start, maybe you don’t have to carry all that bad bullshit with you. Maybe the stuff that hurts should be the first thing to go.”
Finn is sunshine and giddy joy. He’s never been really hurt, he’s always had a loving and supportive family and caring friends. He glows with health and happiness and so much hope that it hurts Adam to look at him. But Adam can’t resist.
The best relationships are made of quiet times, Adam thought as the day wrapped to a close. Lunch, taking the dog out, cooking dinner, sitting to eat it in front of the television with conversation that ebbed and flowed, the constant small touches that marked where the other person was and that they’d been absent for just a moment too long.
At first I worried that Finn was too sweet and open, that he would be selfish in his cheerful innocence, and that would gut Adam. But Finn is aware that he’s been gifted with a good life and he respects the courage it takes for Adam to trust him and open up. He gets that hope can be absolutely terrifying to someone with Adam’s history. Finn respects Adam and while he won’t allow Adam to shut down and close Finn out, he is willing to allow Adam time to feel safe enough to trust.
I adored the development of their relationship. The boundless hope and energy that poured from Finn. The life he breathed into Adam. Adam so shadowed and aching, so brave and strong. The way that they complimented each other. They are gorgeous together.
Maybe Finn had the right of it. Maybe you never really lost those pictures that hurt you. But maybe they could become less and less of all of the pictures in your heart.
Adam has had a very hard life. The only healthy constant in his life has been his beloved cousin, Rico. Rico who has once again reached a hand into Adam’s dark world and helped to pull him back into the light. I loved their bond, their acceptance and affection for each other, their unwavering support and love. Because even though Adam didn’t see it, he was just as important and safe for Rico.
Darrin and his band of misfits are endearing and I can’t wait to visit them again. I’m really hoping that there are more stories coming from this magical world.
Reviewed by Nina