Off Stage: In the Wings is the second in Jaime Samms’ excellent rocker series. The first book, Off Stage: Right, told the story of Trevor and Lenny, who were best friends and tumultuous lovers. They were also lead singer and guitarist of their hit band, Firefly. Trevor, whose alter-ego Damien took the stage, was a drug addict and a loose cannon, and his relationship with Len was, to say the least, unstable. The two were addicted to each other, in a sense, and their talent and drama on stage catapulted the band to stardom but also took a toll on the two men. Len, who suffered from years of abuse, was not able to deal with Trevor’s erratic behavior and drug addiction and the two were both mentally and physically abusive to one another.
In the previous book, Trevor starts healing as he begins a relationship with his agent, Stan, who is a Dom with a controlling hand and is able to call Trevor on his shit. We also got a bit of what is the crux of this second story — the relationship between Len and country star Vance. Vance was Stan’s biggest client and long-time lover, though it never really worked long-term between the two because they were both Doms. When Trevor and Len get into the worst of their arguments, one that leaves Trevor destroyed at Len’s hand, Vance sweeps Len away to his ranch. In my review for the first book, I mentioned that I had fallen in love with secondary characters Len and Vance as well, so I was happy to see that the author was ready to tell their story.
Much of this second book takes place on Vance’s ranch. It is very different from the first book as far as setting is concerned, and focuses less on the rock star aspect and more on the healing process that Len must go through. Len is, unsurprisingly, skittish when it comes to his relationship with Vance. He knows deep down that he needs to submit to Vance, but he has so many years of abuse, so much baggage, as well as his relationship with Trevor to get beyond. It’s a bumpy ride, to say the least, and a good portion of the book leaves you wondering if Vance will be able to get through to Len.
My favorite part of the book is the confrontation between Trevor and Len, after so much time apart and having seen each other last when Len had hurt him so badly. The relationship between these two is the most interesting and exciting part of this series. They have a fierce, primal attraction to each other, yet they know they aren’t good for each other and need their Doms and lovers to keep them grounded. Regardless, the chemistry they have with one another is intense, and I love reading the scenes when they interact. Even though, especially in this book, it’s fraught with pain and hurt feelings, it’s sexy. You can feel the attraction between the two that is fueled by the energy of the band.
This would be the one downfall to this book for me. Samms is an excellent writer, and reading her books is entertaining and enjoyable. However, I missed the band. I missed what attracted me to the series — Firefly and the rock star vibe Samms perfected so well in the first book. I love Vance and Len, but the relationship between Len and Trevor is my favorite and, if Samms continues with the series, which I hope she will, I hope it returns to this successful dynamic.
Overall, though, I highly recommend this series and Samms’ writing in general. I wouldn’t recommend reading this book as a stand-alone, as it would be too confusing, but definitely get started on this series. I promise you it won’t disappoint.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.