Review - "The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters" by Amy Lane
Simple, tender, complicated, funny
“Simple is good,” he said. “I’ve lived through complicated. Complicated hurts. Simple sustains you. Complicated makes you hungry for simple.”
Rance Crawford is a simple man that has a simple life. His alpaca ranch and yarn spinning business is successful. He has a couple of good friends. Good employees. And a buddy he visits every few months to take the edge off when he needs it. He is also a crusty, blunt and hard-to-get-along-with man.
Ben McCutcheon moves into his dead great-aunt’s one acre farm next door to Rance. A self proclaimed “Bug Man”, he cleans up computer code for game companies. His life has been more complicated. His heart broken. So a move to the small town of Granby, Colorado may just be the best thing for him. One look at the wide open sky, open and honest all around him, and Ben is hooked.
And then he meets Rance, with his sharp edges and blunt ways and his alpacas and his knitting and his magical, beautiful yarn factory. And Rance looks at Ben and sees a younger guy who stirs things up in him about making a life together, things he hasn’t thought about before, things that make him want, and make him open and get him to thinking.
With a simple knitted hat, Rance begins his courtship dance. Stitch by stitch, slowly, surely, weaving Ben into his fabric and making Ben’s beautiful green eyes part of the color palate of his life and heart and wants and needs. “Do you have any idea how high your heart can soar in a place like this?” And with a man like this?
Amy Lane has taken the fabrics of these two men, the rough wooly whites and blacks and reds of Rance, and the softer beautiful golds and greens and browns of Ben and spins them into a lovingly crafted, exquisitely made mating dance between two very different men with gentle souls. I was right there with them – circling each other, shy signals given and received, and small tokens of affection and, dare it be, love offered.
And the prose. The beauty is in how very very simple and elegant Ms. Lane's thoughts and descriptions are. She offers such truths in such a loving way. Because, like Rance, she doesn’t knit for just anyone. "'Only folks I love,” (s)he said, trading naked heart for naked heart." And she loves us.
I always walk away from a book by Amy Lane feeling cared for, loved, and treasured. This gem of a story could not have come at a better time – treat yourself to a small gift this holiday season. Or anytime. A story from Amy Lane is a balm for the soul.
Tom (reviewed for the PRG - Paranormal Romance Guild)