off stage rightRating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Stanley Krane is an agent with a stellar reputation. He doesn’t represent a lot of clients, but the ones he has are extremely successful. He has an eye for talent. So when Stanley sets his sights on Damien Learner, the lead singer of Firefly, it seems strange that he’s after the grunge rocker, who is unlike anyone else he represents. Damien has immense talent, though, and more than that, an electric charge of sexual energy while on stage. In particular, with his beautiful guitarist, Lenny.

Krane has his own relationship drama, though. He’s been in a sexual relationship with his best friend and client, popular country singer Vance Ashcroft, for many years. The problem is, they both like to dominate, and while Stanley will submit for Vance, he knows it’s not something he could do long term. When he feels this instant attraction to Damien, he knows the damaged, clearly submissive rocker is someone who would be a good match. If only Damien weren’t so completely messed up.

As if that isn’t enough, Damien’s been in love with his best friend, guitarist Lenny, for years. He’s seen Lenny through an abusive relationship and, while Lenny refuses to have sex with Damien, they have their own emotionally-wraught, dysfunctional relationship. These two have the opposite problem of Stanley and Vance, though. They’re both dying for someone to take control, and so their lives continue to spiral out of control without a strong hand to set and maintain limits.

When Stanley becomes intent on signing the band, Vance buys them out of their current contract and takes a vested interest in their success. Before long, it becomes clear that Damien is a disaster and his relationship with Lenny is extremely destructive. While they try to help Firefly rise to fame, Stanley and Vance become entwined in the lives of Damien and Lenny and sparks fly in all directions.

There are so many things I enjoyed about this book. First of all, this is a book about a rock star. And not in the way some books do these days, presenting it as a setting but not really getting involved in the intricacies of the life of a rock star. This book not only portrays the craziness of the lifestyle, but really shows the business end of it as well. I found it fascinating as well as sexy as hell. There’s a chemistry between Lenny and Damien onstage that the author is able to describe so well, the reader can feel it. And of course there’s the inevitability of the destructive nature of life as a professional musician. It all makes for a great backdrop for this type of story.

While this isn’t a typical BDSM story in the sense that neither couple delves very deep into the bondage, pain play, etc., it does represent very well the Dominant/submissive part of things. In fact, I found it to be such an interesting study in dominance and submission, because there are clearly two couples here who love each other deeply yet are unable to make it work because their souls require something else, whether that be a need to control or be controlled. I could quite easily see, not only how a D/s relationship can work, but how sometimes it’s quite simply essential to the success of a partnership. It’s a perfect example of how love is not always enough. That there is something inside some people that calls out for the person who will complete them and make them whole, regardless of how it appears to the outside world. The D/s lifestyle is presented as the opposite of dysfunction, and it was entirely believable within the context of this novel.

I also really liked the two couples in this novel, though, as I will explain later, this presented a weakness as well. I was emotionally attached to Stanley and Damien as well as Lenny and Vance, and, especially in the beginning, was completely caught up in how things would work out between this group of four men who have long histories together and strong feelings for each other. The only thing that would’ve been better was a foursome scene, though that merely comes from my perverted mind and not because it would’ve made the story any stronger.

After the first half, though, as the two couples begin to form, it became a bit too much for one novel. I wanted Lenny and Vance’s story, but it was really Stanley and Damien’s to tell. And this book was already long — much longer than my “very few novels should be over 250 pages” rule. Everything began to lose focus. Lenny made some decisions that were best for him, but which kind of messed up what had been happening with Damien. Essentially, there were a bunch of unhealthy relationships here that we didn’t have the opportunity to fully explore because it was just too much for one book.

I loved what the author was doing here and hope we see more novels within this world. As I’ve said many times before, I’m a sucker for a well-written book, and this one was just that. The pacing, the plot, the characterization are all excellent. It just became too much for one book and I felt it left some thing unresolved and unexplored. It was original and exciting, though, and I can recommend it, especially for those who are interested in BDSM.

Amy sig