I saw a review on this story and snagged it. Even though it wouldn’t be one I would grab on my own in the normal scheme of things, there were points made that drew me in. I enjoy reading about flawed characters who screwed things up royally get a second chance to make good and maybe find happiness and love in the restoration process. That’s what I got with this rocker who had to learn the hard way how to fix his mistakes while not making new ones along the way.
The story opens with Jude Colburn stuck in a cubicle job and dying slowly inside full of regret and guilt and despair that he threw away all that was good in his life and hurt so many others in the process. Everyone else moved on and finally achieved their dreams without him and no thanks to him after he cheated on his boyfriend and left his best friends and the band right when they needed him most. Now he is a true musician stuck in a drone job.
But then Kristy his old manager calls. His old band needs a bassist. Jude was the drummer, but he was replaced. He can play anything and is the only one who knows the songs well enough to jump in and save the tour from disaster. But Kristy warns him that nobody has forgiven him and he has to toe the line- no getting involved with other band members after what happened between him and Connor and then Connor and Wes which caused all the trouble. Jude misses the drums, but will take anything. This is his second chance to repair the damage that he did and to get his own dream.
AJ replaced the larger than life Jude Colburn and has been the drummer for the last year and a half. But now that they need a bassist, AJ is terrified that Jude will come back and end his hopes. Everyone hates Jude for the trouble in the past, but will it be enough for them to want to keep AJ? But then AJ gets one look at Jude and realizes his job isn’t the only thing in jeopardy. Everything about Jude is a temptation and fascination. The band is in turmoil and on edge especially the explosive Connor about his ex returning, but they have to do well on this tour and into the recording studio and Jude is the key. AJ can only hope the smoldering, sensual man can right the past and keep things from a repeat even as AJ finds it harder and harder to resist being with Jude.
The author did a good job of bringing the world of a rock band on tour and work in the studio to life even while telling a story of emotional restoration and romance for the prodigal black sheep who returns to the band. I abhor cheating and cheaters in a story and avoid stories that have them, but still I picked up this one and enjoyed watching Jude’s shaky and volatile road back from such big mistakes as cheating on his on again off again boyfriend and best friend of years and then compounding it by leaving the band right when they are set to play before a big name record label because he can’t handle what he stupidly did by cheating. I was glad that the author told it in such a way that the mistakes carried weight and long lasting effect so it felt natural.
This natural angst and conflict was there for much of the story and made it heavier on the emotions. I didn’t realize how heavy it felt until stuff resolved at the end and the heaviness lifted for a lighter finish. There was wall to wall conflict. Not just Jude and his thoughts or Jude and Connor, but the whole band was a ball of conflict. Talk about artistic temperaments. Band managers do not get paid enough was what I have taken away from all this. haha!
This was a slower-paced character driven plot by necessity since it centers around Jude’s comeback and need to show remorse and make up for his mistakes. It’s actually more focused on that than romance. However, the romance development wasn’t short-changed. AJ and Jude became friends and that strong attraction going on under the surface slow-burned until they became the inevitable secret lovers. They were good together. I enjoyed it that they shared the narrative.
AJ is the peacemaker of the band and really the glue even if he feels like the guy on the outside. AJ observes all the others and quietly resents that they make decisions without him or listen when he does talk. This is what draws him to Jude even though Jude is the one he fears because Jude is the one the others hate, but also the one who has the greatest talent and ability to push AJ out of the band. Jude is the first to give AJ his focus and encourage him. Surprisingly, Jude is the one to have his back even when Jude is still figuring out his own issues.
And Jude, he screwed up bad, but I never could hate him. I felt sorry for him and then I found myself cheering him on to work through everything and get his life back on track. And as the reader, it wasn’t long before it became obvious that Jude might have made the worst mistakes and took all the blame, but the others contributed their fair share. It helped that he really was trying to do right by everyone and especially AJ. I felt bad for him that most of the time his efforts weren’t appreciated or were misconstrued.
All in all, this would be a hit among those who enjoy rocker romances and romances that are heavy with angst and character growth. It was slow, but sure and I can recommend it to m/m contemporary romance fans.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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