Ethan in Gold by Amy Lane and Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes.

EthaninGoldLGThe Porn Star and the Virgin…Like we didn’t see that coming!!!…EXCEEEEEEEPT with this book like with every other one I’ve read from Amy Lane there is a lot more to the story. Why?  Because first and foremost, this story was HUMAN. About people. People being good, bad, weak, strong, hating, loving, triumphant, defeated, resilient and downtrodden. Just people, Amy writes about the nature of  humans,  of the lives they are handed and the paths they take. How much it REALLY takes to make a good life out of what sometimes is very very  little. How it  can be that some people can be family to strangers, and others can hurt their own flesh and blood to the breaking point.

When I finished this book my first thought was “I am so glad Amy Lane writes what she feels she needs to, and not what will make people happy.” Because her books to me are precious. They are simple stories really, but what makes them rich and moving is that she gives us her characters with a nakedness and honesty that it challenges us. Just offers them up to us in their brokeness.  She MAKES us see the ugly, the bad and the weak in them. She forces us to acknowledge that yes, every happy ending has its dark spots, and ugly chapters, that smiles sometimes have been paid for with a lot of blood and tears, that happy moments a lot of times come as the result of walking away from a lot of hurt, that in the end being able to look back from a better place IS WORTH IT ALL.

For all the awesomeness that was Ethan and Jonah I had to do something VERY SPECIAL, a friend and fellow baking enthisiast has come for a visit. A lovely young woman who “Bakes for a Cause”. She does Bake Sales around the college campus where I live to raise money for different charities and I think she rocks. So, in this post the baking credit goes to The Flour Child Bakery. We made some amazing  to Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes with a Caramel Glaze that are to die for, and totally perfect for the apple harvest time here in New York. I must confess though, I broke all the rules with this one, this recipe is most definitely NOT VEGAN, but it is DELICIOUS!

Golden.

Golden.

Now the story…Evan Costa (Ethan in the pornosphere) is a young man who had something pretty awful happen to him when he was a little boy, someone did a really bad thing  to him. The saddest part was that his mom never forgave HIM for it, and she proceeded to make him and his sisters pay for her own bitterness. Evan’s mom became a hateful woman after Evan’s “incident”, she never hugged him, never showed affection. He became the embodiment of all the things she could not control in this world. It hurt Evan so bad, not a hug, not a kind gesture for so long. He was starving for any kind of human contact. If it hadn’t been for his therapist, and his friends from the anime club at school things could have gone really bad for him. He knew it too. He had seen a few of his friends fall down holes that they never crawled back out of.

Evan needed touch. He craved it, and as far as he could tell a perfect way to ensure he was touched A LOT was going into porn. He already had the body and the face and he wasn’t very interested in school. Also getting to have sex with beautiful men (who were also pretty great guys) was a nice bonus.

So he took the plunge on the porn and became, Ethan, italian porn good. He kept living at home, with his mom and sisters in that hateful, stagnant environment his family home had become until his secret got out, and then he couldn’t anymore.  Things were touch and go for a while there, but he HAD his friends and THEY had his back THE WHOLE TIME. He wasn’t alone, he knew that. He also knew that he had to make some changes.

There is Jonah too, the skinny young guy who works  with Tommy at the Petsmart. He is cute, if a little on the scrawny side, and he looks INNOCENT. Like untouched by anything dirty. Ethan is taken with him. He has this crappy job, and a sixteen year old sister with a horrible disease. But he seems happy,  and gets so excited talking about comic books with Ethan. The guy is tired though, him and his family are pretty much dedicated to making his sister Amelia comfortable, and as healthy as they can keep her, which sadly is not very healthy at all.

Ethan is kind of amazed that Jonah and his family were not tearing each other up under the stress, his own family would have imploded. Jonah is so brazen too. He knows Ethan wants him and he is not letting him get away. Not even once he finds out about Ethan’s big secret.

The problem is that clearly it can not work between them, I mean HELLO! Jonah is good and pure, and Ethan is a dirty whore. How can that work? He can’t do it. He can’t soil Jonah, his family and his dying sister for goodness sake! He needs to just leave, get out, make Jonah realize that he is NOT one of the good guys. He is damaged goods, someone whose entire family could walk out on without even a glance back. That’s who he is, but Jonah refuses to see that. He is so stubborn, he keeps looking at Ethan like some kind of hero, and it is killing him, because there is NO WAY he could live up to any of that.

But he FALLS, how can he not catch a little bit of that hope bug going around his little family of friends? Things are happening around him that are making him feel like he can have a little more too. Tommy and Chase are going to be daddies. Dex and Kane are making a go of it, they’re in love. HE’S in love. He is needed and wanted by someone he needs and wants right back. He can see it now, a future that will be better than what he ever could have envisioned for himself.

Ethan and Jonah were real heartbreakers. But they were such a joy too, they gave so much to each other. Ethan needed to know about unconditional love. He needed to experience it, needed to understand he DESERVED it.  Not because he was good, or pure or better, just because that is what people get for being good people, who HAVE good people.

Jonah, he knew all about that kind of love, he had it from his family, gave it to his sister as much as he could. But after putting her first for so long, he needed to start thinking of himself, of the things he wanted and needed like love, sex, fun, a life…Little things and BIG things he just never had time to desire before. Once they came together, they were ready to fight to make things work. Make a life, together, they weren’t sure where they would get to, but they would walk there together.

I loved this book, and  I don’t want to pile it on here, but the way that Amy has created this series to me is just brilliant. We’ve been in the same time frame for three books. Six men, three love stories, all happening in this little universe of Johnnie’s studio. I was at home as soon as I opened this book, I was invested in pretty much every character, and wanted to hear about where Ethan was, and who the man was that could help him get to his happy ending.

Again, what can I even say? Amy Lane is my lady. This series is a complete joy to read, and I hope we get much much more from the Johnnies world.

Ethan in Gold will be released this Friday October 4th and is available for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press

Now scrumptioliscious cupcakes!

Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes

Ingredients

for the cupcakes:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup and two tablespoons of light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tbsp butter

2 tsp cinnamon

2-3 tbsp sugar

1 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced

for the caramel glaze:

4 tablespoons of  store-bought caramels (I used Wegman’s Creamy Caramel)

2 tablepoosn of Apple Butter

Splash of almond milk

1 pinch of cinammon

Directions:

for the cupcakes: – Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 muffin tinwith cupcake liners. – In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

Meanwhile in a skillet sautee  2 tablespoons of butter until it’s fragrant add apples and a bit a cinammon and sautte for about two minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each additional and scraping down the sides of the bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, add the applesauce and half of  apples and beat well.  Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Divide batter evenly among the liners, filling each about 2/3 full.  Bake for 19-20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, or until cake tester comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

for the caramel sauce: – Combine the caramel, apple butter, cinammon and splash of milk until incorporated. Set aside to cool.

Once the glaze is of a dense consistency drizzle over cupcakes and top each one with a bit of the apples and chooped candied pecans.

Hope you enjoy the  golden cupcakes and book!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura

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3 thoughts on “Ethan in Gold by Amy Lane and Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes.

  1. Sounds like another completely satisfying book by Amy Lane. As always, your reviews capture the book so well. I never go wrong with your advice. (And I love Apple cake or cupcake recipes. They always have the best toppings!)

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