Buy link: American Love Songs
Author: Ashlyn Kane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
When I first announced Rock Star Week I asked for your thoughts on books to read and review. Lots of readers suggested American Love Songs. I wasn’t familiar with the book or the author, but it came so highly recommended from you all that I decided to give it and try. And you know what? You all were totally right! I loved it! (Not that I ever doubted your awesomeness!)
American Love Songs focuses on the band Wayward Sons, a group of Kansas boys who are just starting out. They are a small band playing local clubs and just trying to make it. When they find themselves in need of a new guitarist, they bring in Parker McAvoy, who turns out to be amazing and a musical prodigy. The book then follows the four men as Wayward Sons begins to make it big, soon getting a record contract and national exposure.
Running parallel to this story line is the developing relationship between Parker and Jake Brenner. The story is told from Jake’s third person POV, along with regular first person blog posts he makes about the band. When Parker joins Wayward Sons, the two guys immediately hit it off. They become roommates and best friends. As we watch the band’s rise, we also see the deepening of their friendship and how much they come to mean to one another. But they remain pretty decidedly in the friends category for much of the book, despite the fact that everyone around them seems to assume they are together (and are hoping for it as well). Over time, Jake comes to slowly realize that he does in fact have feelings for Parker, but doesn’t think there is any hope for a relationship between them. Jake is a one-night stand kind of guy and he is out of the closet and pretty public about his frequent hookups. Parker is wary about Jake’s ability to commit and has a lot of emotional baggage to overcome from his homophobic family. Not to mention that the band has a rule against dating each other. Once he finally realizes his feelings for Parker, Jake has to figure out if there is a way to make things work between them.
Oh, this was such a good story with such great characters. I loved shy, slightly dorky Parker. With his stage fright and his slipping glasses and his constant blushing, I couldn’t help but adore him. And I loved Jake’s openness and kindness and total lack of shame about anything. It was so nice to watch their friendship develop in the first half of the book, and then to see their love growing in the second half.
The story is interesting because it is a bit of an unusual friends-to-lovers story. Most books with this theme start out with the friendship well established and the book focuses primarily on the romance. But here we begin from scratch, with Parker and Jake just meeting one another. So we really get the entire growth of the relationship. And I think it is so well done how that parallels the rise and growth of band, from a small local group to a huge sensation.
In terms of format, I really did enjoy the blog posts along the way. I loved the humor in Jake’s posts and the chance to see a bit more inside his head as we get his POV more directly. Interestingly there were also a large number of humorous notes throughout the story (basically asides about something in the text). In my electronic version these appeared all as endnotes, but I wonder if in the print copy they are footnotes? I actually found them quite a lot of fun, but after a while I stopped following them because it was sort of cumbersome to navigate back and forth electronically and it took me too far out of the story, which is a shame because they were amusing and added a nice tone.
Overall I really loved this book. It had such a nice slow build to the relationship that really gives you a chance to get invested in the characters and the story. I loved both Parker and Jake and think Kane does a great job developing them individually and as a couple (as well as creating lots of nicely developed side characters). This was a great rock star story that shows us the creation of not just a band, but of a great couple too. Highly recommended.