Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
For the past three years, rock star Ash Ivers has been feuding publicly with country sensation Jackson Abrams. Ever since Ash made a rude public comment about Jackson after losing a Grammy to him, the two men haven’t been able to stop sniping at each other in the media. But now that they are together in one place playing a charity concert, both men are thinking it may be time to finally settle things between them.
Although Jackson’s attempt at smoothing things over has a bit of a rough start, after a few tries the guys are able to settle their differences. Even more surprising, all that bickering was covering up for the attraction both men felt for one another. As they give in to their lust, Ash and Jackson soon find they have real feelings for one another that they are determined to explore. But although Ash is out publicly, Jackson fears his fans will be more unforgiving and keeps his sexually mostly secret. But keeping their relationship quiet may not be possible, and Jackson will have to figure out if he can have his career as well as the man he has grown to love.
A Little Bit Country was originally written as a free novella by the same name as part of an event on the Goodreads M/M Romance group. It began with a photo and plot prompt and was turned into story posted to the group. I read it when it was first published and just fell in love with Ash and Jackson, as did many readers. So I was thrilled to hear that Frost was expanding that story to a full length novel and giving us a chance to revisit with these guys (the original story is encompassed within this larger work so there is no need to go back and read it before picking up this one).
I really think Frost did a great job with this story and loved seeing how things continued to develop for Jackson and Ash. The first story ended with them falling for each other and a definite relationship developing, so the expanded portion really focuses more on the issues of Jackson coming out, as they are pretty happy and settled together already. I enjoyed seeing how the men begin to build their relationship, getting to know each other’s very different lives. Ash is a city boy living in L.A., with a fairly wild past and a rebellious streak. And Jackson lives on a big ranch in Texas, a well-mannered country boy with a big, loving family. I loved the way they retain their differences but each sort of mellows toward the middle a bit as they spend more time together. Yet even as they fall in love, their relationship retains that feisty spark that had them feuding at first, and now adds some fire to their romance. They are so sweet and sexy together and a really enjoyable couple.
As I said, a key focus of the second part of the story deals with Jackson’s coming out process and how his fans and the industry will react. Jackson assumes that his country audience will not be as open as the rock fans who have accepted Ash from the start. Although Jackson definitely has a bumpy ride with his share of haters, this story isn’t particularly angsty and primarily focuses on the support Jackson gets from Ash and his band. So he definitely deals with some tough times, but the story is more about the love and happiness he experiences than the bad stuff. I think it could have done with a touch more realism or intensity here. Things seemed a little too pat and easy despite some bad behavior by many people. For example, [spoiler]the music executive turning out to also be gay just seemed a bit too coincidental. I would have rather seen a straight man be open to accepting him, rather than it needing to be another gay man.[/spoiler] But I think it fits with the tone of the story that really focuses on the growing love and commitment these guys feel for each other.
So for fans of the original short, I definitely think you will be pleased with this longer version. And for those new readers, I can recommend this one as well. It is a sweet romantic story with some likable and feisty characters and a little bit for everyone – some rock, some country, some sweet, and some sexy. Very enjoyable.
Cover Review: I really like this one a lot. The colors are totally working for me and I like that we got Ash’s tattoos (though I wish they matched his more). Very nice looking!
P.S. The title of this book makes me think of the (very) old Donnie and Marie Osmond song. I am embarrassed to say I used to own this on record as a child. Watch at your own risk because I swear it is impossible to get out of your head. Hysterical though and amazingly cheesy, especially when they dance. (Oh, and Frost just confirmed this as the title inspiration)