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Chase in Shadow - Amy Lane Read as part of my Fifty Shades of Erotica challenge.

Chase Summers has it all. A wonderful girlfriend, a nice apartment, a plan for the future. But what is it that has him standing in the bathroom with a razorblade at his wrist? Chase is gay, and he can't live without Tommy Halloran, a man he met whilst working the gay-for-pay scene. What leads Chase to that crucial moment in the bathroom, and how to the people who love him deal with the aftermath?

At first, I wasn't really sure what to make of this book, but, the more I read, the more I loved it. It is certainly not a book for the faint-hearted, or the easily-frustrated. Almost every page is soaked with delicious angst, and the protagonist has more shades of grey than a graphite drawing. Chase in Shadow was not an easy read emotionally, but it was worth every page.

To start with, I found it hard to get used to the stylistic switches in the narrative, from the film-like third person omniscient Italics, to the third person limited main text, to the brief moments where we entered the stream of consciousness that is Chase's mind. Though, to begin with, these changes threw me, by about the third chapter I was used to them, anticipated them, and admired Amy Lane's stylistic skill. In fact, some of my favourite moments in the novel were the moments where Chase's excitement spilled out, sentence structure was abandoned and we ended up with stuff like 'I'm gonna get sex! Sex! Sex sex sex sex sex... from a man!' That was the kind of thing I loved.

Speaking of style, I loved how the narrative was structured. We begin with Chase about to kill himself, and then we go back in time and see the story that has led him up to that moment, and then, when the story catches up with itself, we get to see the aftermath. Sometimes, starting with a later scene in the book can ruin the story, but in this case, it gives the reader a greater understanding of Chase's character from the very beginning. Instead of spoiling the ending, we can take stock of Chase's actions throughout the novel and work out why and how he got to breaking point.

There was a part of me that hoped for an epilogue, just a snippet to see how the characters were coping a year on from the end of the novel. However, as much as I would have liked to see it, I think it would have ruined the ending as it was. I think Amy Lane made the right decision by ending the book where she did, and not giving into the temptation to continue on.

The character of Chase was an interesting one. He was by no means your typical hero. He was a coward, and selfish, and frustrating. However, whilst reading, I couldn't help but like Chase, despite everything he did, and despite wanting to shout at my kindle at times and make Chase tell people the truth. he was hurting so much inside, with the brilliant metaphor of the red door and red water, and this made him endearing even in the moments where I wanted to shake him the most.

Tommy was an interesting character. As much as he was a rock for Chase, he was broken too. He has bulimia, and, strangely enough, Chase becomes his support. Despite his depth of character, I actually didn't like Tommy very much. Even though Chase was awful to him, I hated the moments where Tommy got angry; he was like a totally different man. For some reason, I just couldn't bring myself to like him, or to connect with him. However, I won't deny he was good for Chase and there were moments where I did like him. Just not enough.

I liked the character of Mercy, particularly because she wasn't perfect. It would have been so easy for Amy Lane to make her a bitch, or to make her unlikeable. However, as she was so likeable, it made Chase's actions seem even worse (and more understandable). Mercy was a lovely girl, and he never wanted to hurt her (but even she had flaws).

In fact, all of the characters had a depth to them, even the minor ones. They all had flaws, or hidden angst, or vices. I'm actually really hoping Amy Lane writes follow up novels telling the stories of Dex and Kane, because I liked both of them and there was potential for interesting stories there. We'll have to see.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading Chase in Shadow. I loved the stylistic devices, the narrative, and the characters. I couldn't find a fondness for Tommy, however, which is why this book hasn't received five stars from me. This is the first book I've read by Amy Lane, and I don't think it'll be my last! :)