Reviewed by Sadonna
Title: Fall Through Spring
Author: Amy Lane
Series: Winter Ball #3
Heroes: Dane Hayes and Clay Carpenter
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 225 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Available at: Dreamspinner Press & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: 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?
Note: While technically the third book in the series, the book can be read as a standalone. This story takes place in parallel to a good part of Book 2, so there are a few spoilers for both Books 1 and 2.
Clay and Dane meet during a golf game where Skip, Clay’s best friend and Mason, the VP at Tesko where Clay and Skip work, first meet each other in person. The golf game doesn’t go so great for anyone but Skip (who has never played before), but the guys all get acquainted and this sets off a chain of events that lead to closer friendships between Mason and Clay and Skip. Dane is in graduate school, but he’s dealing with bi-polar and trying to keep the stress level down and the brain-chemistry even. He’s not always successful. He feels guilty about living with his brother – who has always been his hero and best friend.
Clay has his own issues – working a job that is pretty far below his education level, battling his weight, paying off his student loans, and basically keeping a low profile with his high achieving family who appear to be disappointed in who he is and what he does. When Clay and Dane start gaming together and then doing other things together, things get a little intense. Dane hasn’t had a real relationship since he was diagnosed – so for about 6 years. Clay has had girlfriends in the past, but he’s never found the person that would just want him for himself. His family’s support and love have been conditional to him and we learn how far back this pattern started and what it’s done to his psyche.
When Dane starts to miss his meds and then he’s pretty sure they aren’t working anyway, there is a meltdown. And Clay wants to be there for him, but it’s tough. It’s a good few weeks of Clay basically putting everything aside to tag team with Mason to get Dane back to a place where he can get on a meds regimen that will allow him to function. He’s got homework and classes to make up and a lot to work through. This part of the book is hard. For anyone who has dealt with or is dealing with or is supporting anyone going through this very difficult journey, I think this will resonate. It certainly did with me. Dealing with mental illness and bipolar meds balancing is not for the faint of heart. Clay and Mason do everything they can to support Dane.
At the end of the day, all of the guys on the Soccer Team do what they can to support each other. Whether it’s supporting Mason and Jefferson or Skip and Richie or Dane and Clay, these guys really do have each other’s backs. The power of friendship and the true support and doing what’s needed in the moment is clearly part of the DNA of this group. I loved seeing all these guys get some much-needed love in this story.
I absolutely loved Clay. This guy is just such a sweetheart. He really just wants to be loved for himself. He wants a job where he doesn’t hate himself at the end of the day. He would like his family to truly see him – not the potential he has, not the education he has but him. The person he is and the person he likes. He’s spent so long feeling bad about himself for not living up to what everyone else wants, regardless of his desires, that he spends most of the time avoiding them. He creates his own family with Skip and Mason and Richie and Dane. This is really a story of found family.
Dane has a lot on his plate. While he has a loving family and a brother who would do anything for him, he doesn’t always have control of his brain. He hates that but he knows he has to do something about it. The rollercoaster ride that everyone involved goes on with him as he tried to get a handle on his meds is a little bit heartbreaking. I loved how Clay and Mason just did what needed to be done.
Once again, the supporting characters in this series were outstanding. I loved getting to see Mason’s assistant, Mrs. Bradford, again – a heroine in the previous book 😊 She’s still the best. Dane and Clay’s families, who are integral to the story, also are well drawn and realistic and certainly not perfect. I also really appreciated the way Amy Lane didn’t pull punches on the difficulty of supporting someone going through this type of cycle with bi-polar. And she is right – everyone deserves to be loved and to find that happy ending. As someone who has a family member who has been on this journey for 8 years now and seems to be holding his own at this point, I certainly appreciated that in this book.
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*