Sunday, December 31, 2017

ARC Review: Strike Up The Band by Sam Burns

Strike Up the Band (Wilde Love, #3)Blurb:

Jake McKenna doesn't want to be here. He doesn't want to be on tour, he doesn't want to be playing guitar, and he definitely doesn't want anything to do with Brian Mulholland. He's biding his time until the tour is over so that he can walk away from his music career for good.

Brian didn't ask to be here. Okay, maybe he did. Fine, you know what? He wanted this. He may not like the circumstances that have landed him in his dream job, but he's not going to let anyone ruin it for him, even if it's the insanely hot guitarist he's had a crush on since the first time he saw the band play. He will win over Jake McKenna if it's the last thing he ever does.

My rating:

This is the 3rd book in the Wilde Love series, switching back to Freddie Mercury Isn't Dead aka FRED, the band that got its start at Wilde's, Keegan's restaurant/bar in book 1. Some time has passed since then; they now have a hit single and are on a tour.

The band is forced to take on a new member, to finish the tour as their record label demands, because record labels are cruel assholes only concerned with making money, no matter what it costs the band.

Jake McKenna doesn't want to stay on tour, he doesn't want to even interact with the new member of the band, one Brian Mulholland, and he sure as hell doesn't want a career in music anymore.

The aforementioned Brian is the ex-member of a now-defunct boy band, who is looking for a new start after firing his manager/mother when she caught him kissing another man.

Now, I'm not going to give away the plot or why Jake feels the way he does about continuing in his music career - there's a reason why that's not in the blurb, and I'm not going to spoil things here.

This book can be read as a standalone, though I don't know why you wouldn't want to read the first two books as well.

I do want to talk a bit about Jake's sexuality - he identifies as homo-romantic/asexual - and how well the author worked that into the book, showcasing without ever getting preachy that love is definitely not dependent on sexual contact, and that someone like Jake can find the right person for him. Both Brian's bisexuality and Jake's asexuality are handled in really positive ways, making it clear that romance and love can happen even if sex is off the table. Brian is a really good guy, sympathetic and forgiving, even if Jake is prickly and disengaged at first, and they eventually begin a friendship that then leads to more, and I was happy that the author didn't change Jake for Brian, or vice versa. They had honest and open conversations about Jake not wanting sexual intercourse, and how that might affect Brian down the road, which allowed them both to make the right choice for themselves.

If you've read the first book, Straight From The Heart, you already know what Jake is like, and I was happy to find that the author didn't change his personality from the first book - he's still the somewhat grumpy, mostly introverted guy who just wanted to play his guitar and write music.

The author does a really good job fleshing out the characters and giving them realistic, complex, and somewhat flawed personalities. They're both more complex that what initially meets the eye, and I thought they were rather well suited to each other. There's not a lot of relationship angst here, though the beginning of book is somewhat difficult to read, and ... no.... not going to spoil it for you. I will say that I didn't expect the turn of events, and I must applaud the author for taking things in that direction, no matter how it... no... not going to spoil it for you. The romance develops slowly, as it should have, and is based on friendship with comfort, hugs, and kisses.

What I also love is that this book isn't just about Jake and Brian and their slowly developing romance, but also about the other band members, about their strong friendships, about being a family of sorts, about their struggles to integrate Brian into the band, and how to move forward from... nope, sorry, not going to tell you.

Do yourself a favor and read this series. There's a 4th book out now too.

** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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