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Review: Lead – Kylie Scott

LeadLead (Stage Dive #3)
Kylie Scott
St Martin’s Griffin
2014, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Jimmy Ferris is the lead singer of successful band Stage Dive. But Jimmy steadily found his way down to rock bottom through abusing both drugs an alcohol. Successful rehab stint now completed, Jimmy has gone through several “assistants/personal sobriety companions”, driving them away with his foul temper and abuse. The band and management are almost at wits end…. enter Lena.

Lena is smart and sassy and she’s not about to take any crap from a spoiled rock star. She keeps him in line and he pays her. It’s a very simple arrangement. Jimmy needs to improve his PR and the band need him in form with a tour coming up. Although determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, a glimpse at a softer and more vulnerable side of Jimmy has Lena in trouble and it isn’t long before she’s fallen head over heels for the sexy singer. But Jimmy has a lot of issues: emotional intimacy issues, commitment issues, politeness issues. He doesn’t want Lena’s feelings for him but yet he cannot let her go either. So Jimmy decides that he has the perfect plan to help Lena get over her love for him. They just need to work through several steps, like her dating other people and talking up his flaws. And if that doesn’t work, well he’s got other ideas too.

Eventually Jimmy goes too far and Lena knows she can’t stay anymore. But will Jimmy ever look beyond what happened in his past and realise that he’s ready for a proper relationship? If he doesn’t, he could lose the best thing that ever happened to him.

Oh Jimmy. I would count the ways in which you are a giant knob but I have to cap this review’s word count somehow and aint nobody got time for all that. So I’m just going to sum up the circular interactions in this book after Lena falls (inexplicably) in love with Jimmy-

Jimmy: {does something thoughtless/cruel/humiliates Lena (often in front of others)/generally acts like a knob}
Lena: Retreats to her room/ignores him/tells him he’s horrible/sometimes cries
Jimmy: Sulks, demands she speak to him, offers some insincere platitude or buys her something ridiculously expensive
Lena: Pleased, because Jimmy is showing feelings. But still demands he actually apologise, like a grown up person
Jimmy: Sulks, refuses, says he doesn’t know how. Manages to scrounge up the word sorry
Lena: Not good enough Jimmy, say sorry and mean it
Jimmy: {not at all convincingly} Sorry Lena
Lena: Claps hands. Yay Jimmy! You’re making progess

Except, no.

Jimmy brings new meaning to the words ‘boundary issues’. Lena lives with him because her general job is to keep him sober, to help him when he feels the need to drink or get high, even though she’s not actually qualified for that. Apart from basically one instance at the beginning of the book, Jimmy doesn’t seem to actually struggle all that much with his addiction so mostly Lena answers his emails, keeps his schedule and serves as his verbal punching bag. Despite the fact that he didn’t want her employed, nor was he keen when she expressed the feelings she was having for him, Jimmy can’t let her go. Instead he comes up with ridiculous ideas, such as setting her up with other people, to get her over him. This might have had a snowball’s chance in hell of working if Jimmy hadn’t actually done such douchebag things as go on the date with Lena and sit at the table and generally make a nuisance of himself. To be honest that whole scene felt really out of character – it actually felt a lot more like something Mal would’ve done, in Play. Jimmy also decides that, when the dating thing doesn’t work (no kidding, who saw that coming?) that they could just sleep together and get it all out of their system. Jimmy is so ridiculously backward in expressing desires and feelings that I’m amazed. He must be nearly 30, I can’t really remember how old he is.

I can pinpoint the exact moment Jimmy lost me. He’d done something to upset Lena and she retreated to her room and locked the door. In the morning when Jimmy woke her for them to go jogging together, he found the door locked and demanded she open it. Lena didn’t, so Jimmy kicked it in. Sorry, but no. She might work for you and the terms of her employment might dictate that she reside in your house but everyone is entitled to their privacy and a locked door is a locked door. Especially as it was 5am and Jimmy was not in danger of drinking or using. He wanted to talk to her to express one of his terribly inadequate apologies and she didn’t want to hear it. So he kicked her door in, because hey, that’s normal behaviour and not a red flag at all! If I were Lena, no matter how in love with this man I was, I’d have been out of there that day. But despite the fact that Lena is fun and sassy and full of herself in the prologue, when it comes to Jimmy she’s a total door mat.

I might have been able to forgive Jimmy this behaviour if the big scene at the end had given me the pay off I needed but unfortunately it fell flat for me. It seemed like it was mostly Lena convincing him of what he felt, not him coming to the realisation himself and that’s what I needed Jimmy to do. To actually man up and own his feelings and realise his mistakes.

4/10

Book #155

AWWW2014

Lead is book #58 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014

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Review: Play – Kylie Scott

Play coverPlay (Stage Dive #2)
Kylie Scott
Pan Macmillan Australia
2014, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Anne has had a bad day – her flatmate who owed her money has absconded without paying it back and also taking most of their shared apartment’s furniture. This also leaves Anne with rent that she most likely cannot pay given a lot of her money goes toward supporting her younger sister through college. Her friend Lauren who lives in the apartment next door urges Anne to forget her worries for a night and come with Lauren and her boyfriend Nate to Nate’s sister’s party. Nate’s sister happens to be Evelyn, who sensationally married the guitarist of rock band Stage Dive recently. Anne knows her only to say hello to but she allows herself to be persuaded by Lauren to go to the party.

There she meets Mal Ericson, the drummer and former pin up on Anne’s wall and her teenage crush/obsession. Mal overhears a conversation Anne has on the phone and picks up that she’s in a pretty desperate situation and he thinks they might be able to help each other out. Mal needs a squeaky clean girlfriend for a little while, someone who will make his parent’s happy and keep the press off his back and he thinks that he and Anne can come to an arrangement. He’ll help her out financially if she’ll pose as his girlfriend. Anne is exactly the sort of person that Mal thinks is right for the job.

But pretending to be the girlfriend of a sexy rock God comes with a danger. Anne isn’t sure she can do this without it ending badly. Or might she be what Mal is really looking for, not just something to improve his image?

When I read the first Stage Dive novel Lick last year, I couldn’t praise it enough. I recommended it to plenty of other bloggers, I included it in my top 10 favourite novels of the year. It was a great book – fantastic chemistry, a delicate handling of an instant relationship and the writing was virtually flawless. Naturally Play became one of my most anticipated books for 2014 and I was so excited when I saw the cover and when I nabbed a copy I started it almost right away.

It is so, so unfortunate that this book didn’t work for me. Mal is a character who appears in Lick and I enjoyed his brief scenes and thought that his book would be a total hit with me but I have to say, his character in this novel….I just couldn’t warm to him at all. From the first scene he appears in, he’s smarmy, a bit weird and then launches into some kind of ADHD man-child personality that I found utterly irritating and alienating. Moving unannounced into someone’s apartment is kind of stalkerish, whether you’re a famous rock star or not. I tried to imagine if I suddenly came home in my early 20’s and found Joey Jordison living in my apartment and quite frankly the idea mostly creeped me out. I think that this could’ve been worked around had Mal not seemed so bi-polar all the time. He’s either extremely up, where he talks and bounces and carries on like a child or he’s down in the dumps drinking Jack and escaping to play drums for hours. And you know from the get-go that Mal has some sort of emotional pain going on that he’s trying to deal with and perhaps is the reason for his wildly swinging personality but the reveal is really ineffectual and lacks the dramatic impact that it should. Everything about Mal’s character should fall into place after that reveal but it doesn’t. It still just ends up coming off as really strange and almost every scene with him being “up Mal” I found myself skimming because he was obnoxious.

In Lick, the chemistry absolutely was in danger of setting my kindle on fire and the sexually charged relationship between David and Evelyn was amazing. Mal and Anne have all the chemistry of two wet socks for me and some of the scenes (in particular the one where Mal has a conversation with Anne’s clitoris) come off as cringe worthy in my mind, rather than hilarious. I’m well aware that after a casual glance at Goodreads, I’m significantly in the minority here and I’m also much more drawn to angsty romance rather than the humorous variety and I expected a much more sexually charged story. There were a few moments that made me giggle but there weren’t many. Anne was quite uptight and one of those characters that sacrifices everything, even her own ability to live comfortably, in order to support another member of her family. I felt like that because of this, she wasn’t particularly defined as a character. She worked in a bookshop and her job sounded pretty cool but a lot of it revolves around a kind of love triangle story with a person she works with that really adds little to the story.

To be honest, the best parts of this book were the glimpses we got of David and Evelyn and the groundwork done for the next Stage Dive book, Lead which is singer Jimmy’s story and looks as though it could be quite interesting – and angsty! Perhaps quite a lot more up my alley. I am definitely still going to read the next two books because I loved Lick so much. I’m hoping that the next stories are more to my liking than this one, which I am very sad to say, was just not the sort of story I enjoy.

5/10

Book #73 of 2014

AWWW2014

Play is book #28 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014

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Worldwide Cover Reveal: Play by Kylie Scott

Last year Australian author Kylie Scott introduced us to the band Stage Dive, a group of tattooed, muscled men who were hot as hell and could also rock. The first book Lick saw Evelyn marry guitarist David Ferris during a wild night out in Vegas and wake up not remembering how it happened. Lick shot up into the top 20 on the Amazon 100 and with good reason – the chemistry between Evelyn and David was electric. You can check out my review of Lick here.

On April 1st the second novel in the Stage Dive series, Play is going to be released in eformat and the wonderful people at Pan Macmillan are having a worldwide cover reveal! Thanks to Pan Mac AU for asking me to take part and share this, because it’s pretty fabulous! 😉

Play cover

Play is drummer Mal’s story and fans of Lick will remember him very well. Here’s the blurb {courtesy of the publisher}:

Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast – at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. But he didn’t count on exactly how much fun he could have being with the one right girl.

Anne Rollins has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a demented drummer was never going to be a good idea. No matter how hot he is. She’s had her sights set on her male bestie, Reece, for years. And now that she’s supposedly taken, he’s finally paying attention. If only the chemistry between her and her rock star would stop hitting new heights.

Yep…pretty much cannot wait to read this one!

 

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Lick – Kylie Scott

LickLick (Stage Dive #1)
Kylie Scott
Momentum Books
2013, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Evelyn has big plans to celebrate her 21st birthday in Las Vegas in a special way. That way did not include waking up, sick as a dog with a tattooed stranger. And a diamond on her finger the size of a golf ball. It seems that after many unwise tequila shots, Evelyn married David Ferris, guitarist for rock band Stage Dive. And she has no recollection of doing so.

David immediately offers her an annulment but when Evelyn lands back in her home town of Portland, Oregon it seems that news of their marriage has leaked to the paparazzi and she is besieged by reporters and photographers who harrass her at the airport and invade her family home. David then offers to fly her to LA so that they can sort out this mess in private, without involving other people, an offer that Evelyn accepts.

Evelyn has always been the girl with ‘the plan’. Study hard, become an architect, work even harder. Marriage and kids were maybe 10-15 years down the track not now, not at 21. She’s always been the good girl, the one that pleased her parents and did everything that was asked of her. Marrying a tattooed rockstar that she’d known mere hours does not fall into the plan, nor is it something that fits in with her parents view of her. But during her time in LA, after a few misunderstandings, Evelyn begins to spend some time with her husband and the two of them get to know each other in David’s house up in Monterrey. They both agree not to go through with the annulment.

But it’s not easy – David has some severe jealousy and trust issues and he is still keeping some secrets guarded closely to his chest. Evelyn wants to be patient, to give him time but when she witnesses something she doesn’t think she can forgive, she flees, doing the one thing that David had begged her to never do, leave him. Back in Portland, Evelyn is bereft, devastated but after a month, she gives up hope that she will ever see David again and find the happiness that once looked so promising.

This book is amazing.

About a week ago my youngest son was feeling unwell and wanted nothing more than to just snuggle up on the couch with me. I had my kindle handy and just began reading the book I’d most recently loaded onto it, which was this one. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. The story of David and Evelyn is so compelling and so entertaining that I had to keep going until I’d reached the end, no matter what else was happening around me.

Normally I’m not a fan of the instalove but Kylie Scott managed to hook me into this story because Evelyn didn’t remember meeting David or marrying him. She woke up and was mortified to find herself violently ill and also that there was a half naked stranger in the room with her. She immediately assumes annulment and David leaves (storms out actually) and although he comes to her rescue later on when the paparazzi descend upon her it’s also clear that he kind of wants to punish her just a little, for not remembering. When she meets another member of the band, David’s jealousy and possessiveness make Evelyn wonder exactly what his side of the story in their swift marriage is. They retreat away from the glitz of the showhouse and set about actually getting to know each other.

It’s not an easy journey. There are a lot of problems and misunderstandings for Evelyn and David along the way and I got so hooked into their story. The sex scenes were hot and very entertaining and I think they were balanced out perfectly by the emotion in this book. There’s a lot of pain and heartbreak as well, from both characters. We’re with Evelyn most of the time and her devastation is obvious but when David arrives after they’ve had a brief separation, you can see that she’s not alone, that he is hurting too, just as much. He’s determined to fix what went wrong and Evelyn isn’t sure that she can go there again, that she can put herself out there again. She’s done everything that was expected of her her whole life and the one time she lashed out, got drunk, woke up married, nearly got it annulled and then decided not to, she ended up heartbroken. David is going to have to work very hard to convince her of his sincerity and also that the trust issues he had surrounding her were not longer a problem – and that in return, she could wholeheartedly trust him.

And the best thing? This is the first in a series and we get to revisit Stage Dive as each of the band members get their own story! I can’t wait for that, especially the drummer and also David’s brother, with whom he has a fractured relationship. I look forward to his side of the story! I’ve heard some amazing things about some of Kylie Scott’s other books, Flesh and Skin but they’re about zombies and I have to admit, I’m not much of a fan of zombie novels. However I love the way she writes and I’m thinking that I’m going to have to buy the others anyway because if they’re as good as this novel, as well written and entertaining, then zombies might become my new favourite thing.

9/10

Book #163 of 2013

AWW2013

Lick is the 70th novel read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

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