Cody Rivers is determined to be a rock star, but couch-surfing between bar shows gets old fast. Joining an a cappella group for a new singing competition show could be his last chance at real fame—unless the college boy from the heart of the country messes it up for him. Lucas Norwood is everything gothy, glittery Cody is not—conservative, clean-cut, and virginal. But when a twist in the show forces them together, even the sweetest songs get steamy as the attraction between them lights up the stage. Lucas wants to take it slow, but Cody’s singing a different tune—and this time it maybe a love song
"I want to go home," [Lucas] said ... He needed out of this place and out of his own head.
"To Iowa?" ...
"No. To us."
There is nothing real about television. Every competition "reality" show is staged, every elimination carefully scripted.
Cody knows this and is willing to play the game. He has an incredible voice and moves like Adam Levine, but he's living out of his van and has no prospects on the horizon.
Cody slinks around in his tight pants and eye liner, working the modern Goth look. He's snarky and unabashedly, flamboyantly sexy. When Cody first meets Lucas, he openly smirks at the "farm boy" from Iowa.
Lucas is gay, though, gay and out ... sort of. He's taken a virginity pledge to save himself until marriage. But Lucas doesn't fantasize about the sweet and tender. He yearns for the raunchy and dirty; he yearns for Cody.
Cody and Lucas do the whole hot and cold thing. Neither wants to admit that their relationship is more than just friends getting off. Cody pushes Lucas, but Lucas judges Cody.
Watching Lucas give in to temptation is hot. DAMN HOT! Mutual masturbation turns into something much (MUCH!) steamier.
I loved the dual POV here, as it helped me understand both men. Lucas craves his parents' approval, and Cody, who is used to being lonely and unloved, is scared to trust.
I loved watching them come together, and seeing the connection between them.
Words still weren't cooperating, so he did the only thing he could and kissed Lucas. Not the earlier gentle slide of lips but a raw, emotion-driven attack ...
His brain played a soundtrack of every love song he'd ever sang ...
The secondary characters in this book are very well sketched. We see all the pettiness and jealousy that can happen during a competition, when people whom you thought were your friends turn their back on you.
I especially liked Ashley, Cody's slightly bitchy friend, and Trevor, Lucas's friend from the same conservative college who crushes on Lucas.
While Lucas's parents are clearly strict and controlling, the predictable family melodrama doesn't happen. The family dynamics are far more subtle than that.
Likewise, the competition, which is central to the plot of the novel, doesn't overwhelm the romance. Indeed, the resolution (who wins?) may surprise you.
While a couple sections dragged a little in the beginning, the last 25 percent was perfection.
These boys are hella sexy and sweet together, and Annabeth Albert's writing is a joy to read.
This is a fun, enemies-to-lovers, coming-into-your-own story with complex MCs, lots of music, and a big-smile-worthy HEA.
I can't wait for Trevor's story in book 2!