You should never judge a book by its cover. But damn. And not only is it nice to look at, but this rock star / broken hero novel delivers. Hold on, because this is an emotional ride.
A.J., our hero, is a troubled man. The drummer of a world-famous band, he’s the hulking shadow at the back of the photoshoot, the mean and moody guy who looks like he has secrets and won’t let anyone close enough to find them out. He’s a tattooed & muscled, blond-haired death wish. And you just know his secrets are going to be bad.
Enter Chloe. She’s a sweetheart who runs a flower shop she bought with her trust fund and is in a semi-serious relationship, having average sex with a cop. She could not be less rock n roll if she tried. Even if she likes 80’s power ballads.
The problem is A.J. hates Chloe, so she thinks. Every time they are in a room together he glowers at her and behaves like a total douche. What has she done to hurt him? Nothing and everything, it turns out.
Chloe’s best friend, Kat, protagonist of the first novel in the Bad Habit series (this is book 2 – can be read independently), is getting married to the rock band’s lead singer. The wedding planning brings Chloe and A.J. into close proximity and despite the hate, she realizes she’s into him.
Fortunately for romance lovers, as much as he tries, he can’t resist her. And he fights it haaard. When you get to the end you’ll see why and forgive him everything. They start an insecure but touching romance after she breaks up with the cop. The cop is somewhat unhappy about this (understatement) and adds to the drama later on – seriously, there is a lot of that in this story.
Want a sample of the drama? Check this scene where A.J. turns Chloe away after she turns up at his home:
C – “I hurt you, somehow, don’t I? Being near me hurts you?”
A.J. – “Being near you makes me want to die.” (I mean, just wow.)
C – “Why?”
A.J. “Because you have a smile like a sunrise and eyes that could end all wars, and you have no idea, you have no fucking clue, that when you look at me, you’re looking at a dead man.”
His face twists in misery. His eyes are wet. When he speaks, his voice cracks. “But mostly because you give me hope. You fucking haunt me with hope. And I can’t forgive you for that. Now get the hell out and don’t ever come back.”
Right? I was gripped. It’s good.
I like first person present tense, I like unraveling secrets, and I like dual-perspectives. There are snippets of A.J.’s thoughts at the occasional moment, so you can understand just how tortured he is. But I did feel torn about our hero. His darkness felt too dark for me at times, and I had warning signs going off all over the place. Also I didn’t like his sex-life choices. I understood them eventually, but I’d have thought he’d have steered clear entirely. (Or maybe he did and I’m misunderstanding it?)
I’d have happily suspended disbelief for their HEA to be perfect, but hey, you can’t have everything. (It’s still a HEA though.)
And does this band ever do any performances? Who knows.
The end of the book nicely sets up the characters for the next in the series and I am intrigued to know what’s up with them as I suspect it’s not all plain sailing. I think they may have met before.
NB: I just gave my other half the low down on the novel, full range of (so many) spoilers included. His response was “Jesus, does the guy have a three-legged dog as well?” Um, yes. He does.
Click to purchase: Amazon
Make Me Sin
by JT Geissinger
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Montlake Romance