Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Jordan Braxton leads a quiet life as a website designer and shares his house with his sister, Becca. His sister has one main obsession, the rock star Tyler Curtis, and when she wins two tickets to one of his concerts and backstage passes to his after concert party, Jordan has no idea his life is about to change. Becca is sure that Curtis will sleep with her that night and doesn’t want to take along any of her friends, just in case they might divert attention away from her. So the only logical person to take would be her gay older brother, someone the notoriously straight rocker would never notice.
Curtis is not what the public sees. Tyler Curtis is a rock star image his manager has carefully crafted and promoted, nothing at all like the young man behind the eyeliner and bad behavior. In fact, the real Curtis is crumbling under the pressure of stardom and the abusive manager who controls his life. But Curtis’ life is about to change when Becca brings Jordan with her to the concert. But will there be enough of rocker left to put back together once the real Curtis comes out for love?
I love a story with a rock star at its center and The Curtis Reincarnation is no exception. But Zathyn Priest puts a lovely and angst filled twist to the normal rock star persona with the creation of Tyler Curtis. Rock star Curtis is a carefully constructed front, whose bad boy image is maintained by Frank, his manager. The young man beneath the facade, whose real name is Alec Tyler, is an abused, lonely, and physically ill artist. He is as far from a rock star as you can get and Priest delivers him to the reader so realistically, that his painful vulnerability scrapes against the reader’s heart as we learn more about him and his past. But the road to Alec Tyler starts with two very different characters, that of Jordan and his outrageous sister, Bec. This is our first meeting with the two of them and the beginning of Chapter 1:
A vision of pure horror scrambled down the stairs wearing a heavy clay face mask, a midriff T-shirt, and a pink lacy thong. Long red hair frizzed on one side of her head while lying sleek and straightened on the other. Shrieking like a banshee, she tripped over the last stair, fell forward, bounced off the wall, regained her balance, and lunged for the phone in Jordan’s lap. The laptop was hit next, saved by Jordan’s challenged reflexes while he attempted to ease the pain of his sister’s merciless dive. “Jesus Christ, Rebecca! What the hell are you doing?”
She ignored his high-pitched inquiry and frantically began to dial numbers. Faced with a rear end view, and seeing more of Bec than he ever needed to, Jordan looked down at the laptop screen and attempted to blank out the sight of his barely dressed sister from his mind before it etched forever into his memory banks. Pacing the lounge room in scanty knickers, Bec dialled, hung up, and dialled again. Her frenzy partnered with cursing, stamping feet, and frustrated screams. After a few minutes of this behaviour, Jordan lifted his gaze from the screen and took a chance at needing extensive therapy.
From within the tortured howls and cussing, Bec squealed like a piglet. “Shh! Oh my God, it’s ringing!”
“Did I say anything?”
She waved a hand. “Stop typing! Shh!” Somebody answered her call and the squealing escalated into a shrill scream. Her hand clamped to her forehead, she trembled and tried to give her name between moments of excited yelling and foot stomping. The call ended with Bec in a teary, quivering mess. She disappeared up the stairs without another word. Jordan peered into the furry orange face of an abnormally large cat beside him.
“And that, Furball, is why I’m gay”.
That scene not only had me laughing, but also beautifully defines each character and their relationship with each other. Of course, you know too that Bec has won her tickets to the show and from then on, everyone’s lives start to change. I know people like Bec and the author must as well because that characterization is darn near perfect. Jordan is her opposite, all responsibility and patient older brother, personality traits needed for what lies ahead. I think all the characters created for this story are marvelous, from the despicable Frank to Taylor Mason, the reporter who turns into a friend. They bring the reader immediately into the story, throwing out connecting lines left and right for us to grab onto.
Another component of the book is Alec’s epilepsy. While not getting too much into details, the author treats Alec’s condition with sensitivity while letting the reader see what it takes to live as an epileptic from Alec’s viewpoint, that of an isolated young man whose disease has gone virtually untreated for years. I thought this was an interesting aspect to Alec’s story and an unexpected one. It highlights the need for a strict schedule for medication and physician monitoring, a necessary detail when using illness in a story. I think Priest did a great job with both Alec and the effect that epilepsy has on his life.
A little curious is the switch in POV from time to time in the book’s narrative. Told mostly in third person, it occasionally switches to Frank’s POV and then back again. I understand why the author did it, and while it helps to achieve a tone of suspense, the switch also throws a small wrench in the flow of the story. A very small quibble in an overall terrific narrative.
I do have a larger issue with the instalove between Alec and Jordan. Jordan is older, looking for commitment and his HEA but Alec is almost a child in comparison. Definitely childlike in behavior, Alec’s 18, shy, constantly blushing, a virgin, and an abused soul. Jordan is 27, older, and experienced, and by the end of the first evening, they are boyfriends, from fun evening into serious relationship in a blink of an eye. I just wish the author had given them more time to get to know each other before settling into a serious and committed relationship. For me, it would have made their love more believable than the love at first sight that occurred.
Those issues aside, this story and these characters will pull you in and hold you fast. Once the characters meet and fall in love, events that will change all of their lives start to come fast and furious. By the end of the story, I felt totally happy with all aspects of The Curtis Reincarnation, and of course, the HEA that Jordan and Alec achieve together. This is a heartwarming story, more on the love than rocker side, but its sweetness and terrific characters will make this a comfort read for those who find their way to this book. If you are a fan of Zathyn Priest, you are probably on your way to get this book now. If you are new to this author, put both the author and The Curtis Reincarnation immediately on your “must read, must have” list. I absolutely recommend them both to you.
Cover Art by Scarlet Tie Designs. It works well with the story inside.
Note: This is the second edition of the book, previously published by Torquere Press.