Lead: A Stage Dive Novel
Great installment to one of my absolute FAVE rock star series. Stage Dive rocks! This was the one I couldn’t wait for, because I was gonna get the true, rude (read: hateful) “bad-boy” of the bunch. Beautiful on the outside… but seemingly *ugly* on the in. You know me. I love my book boys damaged, and scarred (whether physically or emotionally). Done right, there’s just so much potential for personal, emotional depth, growth, healing and my own attachment to the story. To him. I forget they’re not real, and I couldn’t wait for Jimmy. He absolutely appalled me one of the past releases, and I was hoping for more!
Oh sure, I totally 5-star LOVE the other guys. 😉
David (from book #1) was the sweet, cuddly-but-hot guitarist (you know the kind… accepting of love and is pretty much, the whole romance package). Of course, there was angst and a misunderstanding or two, but I that initial look in his eye “the morning after” made it obvious that he was reallllly into her. Here’s my book review of Lick.
Then we had Mal (from book #2). The outgoing, wild and crazy (and extremely goofy) drummer that was all about diving in head first, and seeing where it all went. Mind you, he had his issues, and therefore, we got angst!! But surprisingly, I loved his book most. Surprisingly? Well… I have a thing for moody, brooding, resistant-to-love book-heroes, and Mal was far from that. And yet… he blew me away! Here’s my book review of Play.
But I was especially excited for Jimmy (in this book!). David’s a$$holish brother, the most gorgeous of the group (at least from how I’m seeing him ;)), the lead singer, and the lead… everything. He seems to rule the roost, and (as told to us by the other members) allowed his need for excess to dominate their lives. He is (was) the epitome of bad-boy rock star with his constant debauchery, addictions, and his taking what he wants, consequences be damned (even David’s girlfriend). I would like to think that his rude attitude, and his arrogance would have me turned off in real life. But, where there’s a “problem book-male” (someone I have to fight to reel in, someone I have to cry over, in my attempt to tame), I’m ALL IN. Book-wise. 😉
And Jimmy mostly delivered! Mostly? Well… just… it’s almost as if Kylie (the author) is the perfectly balanced contemporary romance author. Just enough of everything, and not tooooo much of anything to keep her love stories centered, super-enjoyable steamy and full of “mini-feels” (and probably a big feel). You can’t help but read her books with “gusto” (’cause there’s always something going on with just enough intensity to keep you on edge, or swooning, or angry, or sad) and yet, so level, that nothing completely rips me apart… or makes me fall head-over-heels into a week-long love fog. Enough to have me grinning with glee (highly recommending it), but not flipping out.
Which is… a good thing. But sometimes, I need more. As was the case with Jimmy.
So what’s it about?
Jimmy needs an assistant (a sobriety assistant) to keep him on track. Every one he’s had so far have quit or he’s fired, but Lena and her take-no-bull attitude (and hilarious inner dialogue <— you’ll LOVE her) is the perfect fit for him!
And the man might be pretty, but he sure as hell wasn’t nice. I’d met enough not-nice men to know. Trust me to find him attractive.
So I frowned right back at him.
His glare went up a notch.
I matched it.
“Why, you two are getting along like a house on fire already! It’s like you’ve known each other for years. I think she’ll make a wonderful live-in assistant,” said Mal.
Sure, he’s hot, but he’s a mess, and she doesn’t need THAT in her life. But what she does need is a good job, and this one is almost perfect.
Of course, as they start to really bond together as a team, Lena develops a crush on him. And he’s pretty nonchalant about the whole thing.
“And stop hanging around the door when I’m showering. That’s creepy.”
I rolled my eyes. It wasn’t like I could see anything through the keyhole.
Let’s pretend I didn’t try.
*snort!!!* Let me tell you, my friends… Lena ROCKED!!!!!! I loved everything about her. Her thought processes, her logic, her inability to extinguish her longing for him no matter how hard she tried,
Jimmy with his suits and smooth ways had never been my type. This attraction to him basically went against the very laws of nature. I could beat it, I just had to try.
…her reactions to… everything. Just awesome!
P.S. She’s his LIVE IN assistant. LOL!!! I was delighted for that “initial” mess (and the sharing space while she’s crushing on him).
Alas… I didn’t get much of the beginnings. Those first couple of weeks where I was expecting head-butting, and personality clashes… were skipped over. By the time we got to “them” they were already fairly figured out, and the feelings were starting to bloom. Even from the beginning. I love being disgruntled (or vehemently not liking) an alpha-jerk character for at least a good part of it, so if and when the tension starts easing up, I’m falling hard for him (and surprised with myself for feeling it). So fun!
Which was part of my feeling that this love story was a bit “safe”.
Safe-ish, even though they portray potentially very bad boys? *nods* Yep. And yet I’ve liked plenty of “safe” romance books. In fact, I five-starred her first two books ’cause, safe or not, they had everything I wanted and I pretty much didn’t want to put them down. So much fun in her love stories.
But this one was just a little… different for me. Oh I liked it! But I could put it down. I don’t know if I was expecting more *oomph* when it came to Jimmy and his moods… his issues and his proven d!@kish ways. Or if this one was just not as intense as the other two, all around. I dunno. I can say that the quality of the writing was on par with the other two. And the potential love story was plenty exciting for me, ’cause she (and we) had to work for it. Lots of unrequited love (he wasn’t interested in “love”, you see) and plenty of private pining for him. YAY US! Great, in that respect.
What I wish we had (and didn’t get) was more emotional depth. When he got emotional, it was hrmm… touching. Sweet. But not quite reaching me. I knew his sad story and his dark past. His lack of love, and care, and mother-figure. Hard to ever love, when the one that was supposed to love you most… didn’t. I get that. It was all there, and it made sense. But I didn’t get to touch his darkness. His depth. His hurt. His extreme resistance. And while he did *almost* infuriate me a few times, it never quite went there. He was funny. Gentle. Even when he was moody, he was endearing. He was mostly a sweetheart in a bad-boy disguise.
We didn’t get to experience him in his horrendous states. We didn’t get to hurt as much as I expected to hurt ’cause of his attitude, or his need to push away.
Oh don’t get me wrong… he DID push.
I could almost feel his walls slamming back into place. Mine were slower, weaker, damn them. Someone, somewhere along the line, had swapped my titanium for tinfoil leaving me wide open and exposed.
Gah! I LOVED that line!! Now THAT was intense and I wanted much more of that.
But mostly… I just… I felt safe. Too safe for what I wanted to feel when it came to Jimmy.
And this is where Kylie takes great care of her readers (and her characters). As potentially irredeemable as her character may be… she would never do that to them. Or us. And I appreciate her for it. I understand it. Like I said, this is, pretty much, the ideal “bad boy” romance read. Plenty of everything, and not too much of anything, so it absolutely appeals to most. Good feel, all around.
But sometimes, with a character like Jimmy.. I like that excess. The late nights, the backtracking, the one step forward-three steps back, the *almost there* relief… and then that one late night where everything seems (or totally does) go to poop.<— Hehe. I said poop. 😛
For me, I like it when a story with this “damaged” potential takes me down that dark road, and makes me feel the ache inside. Not just in “passing”… but that I have to live with the heartache for DAYS (which translates to hours in the book world) with the heroine. And maybe even the hero. You know?
I know… that might be too angsty for many of my fellow readers. Too much drama, too much pain, too far… too much “irredeemable”. It’s nice to love a contemporary romance like this, that touches upon everything just right. But I find it is those “crazier” ones that, IF well written, will have me so attached, so involved, so personally invested that I come out of it on the other end panting, drained beaming and elated. And so deeply in love.
He doesn’t HAVE to be “irredeemable” bad… but sometimes, when considering a damaged character such as Jimmy, I want to be on the edge of my seat worrying that he is. Or that he will be. Makes the HEA that much sweeter, for me.
That said, this was so good in almost every way… It was light. It was playful. It was funny… and at times, just intense enough for me to feel it. But I think I just needed a little more *oomph*. 🙂
P.S. I highlighted so much of this book. LOL! So umm… yeah. It would seem I really liked it.