Tucker has just finished a successful tour with his band and really needs a break. His life is overwhelming him, suffocating him, and terrifying him. Being a country singer, he knows he has to play along and live the life of a straight man if he wants a career. The music executive who signed Tucker will continue to make sure Tucker knows his place as Tucker was forced into an abusive relationship with the man.
Mags has been Tucker’s best friend since high school and stood up for Tucker when everyone else was beating him down. He is now the band’s guitarist and that position came at a high price for Tucker, something that Mags knows nothing about. Tucker has always been in love with Mags, but the closest he can get to him physically is the threesomes with women that Mags coerces him into. Trying to find control somewhere, Tucker turns to male prostitutes for relief. Jess, another band mate, begins to suspect that all is not right with Tucker. Although Jess wears a wedding ring, he will never discuss his family. As Tucker spirals further and further out of control, Jess tries desperately to hang on to Tucker and offers him a relationship that Tucker never even dreamed was possible. But, the record executive is waiting, watching, and Tucker knows he will never be free.
There are a lot of publisher warnings that are attached to this book that should be specifically considered before reading it. What the warnings do not mention, however, is that this book is exceptionally well written. So, the dark themes of sexual abuse, violence, torture, and self loathing bleed out from the page and put you right in the room with all of it.
Tucker is so full of self loathing, self hate, and fear. These feelings are who Tucker has become and there is no room for anyone or anything else. Exactly what happened to Tucker takes a little longer to find out and we are in the middle of his downward spiral right along with him. This book does not let up all the way through and just when you might think Tucker has a chance for something better, more gets slammed down on him. Most of the abuse scenes are done in flashbacks, which in other books can lessen the intensity of the scenes. This is not the case here and the abuse is raw and visceral. There are times you want to look away, but simultaneously read on at the same time. There are a few tough chapters and within those chapters even tougher passages, but it’s a true testament to Kelling’s writing that we are dragged so far down the dark side with Tucker.
This is all Tucker’s story and we are living right along side with him as a victim. Everything is from his view, which helps us to see how he wound up in the situation he is in, although at times some of his choices are difficult to understand. The author captures the overwhelming feeling Tucker has of being a victim. Tucker does want to break free and Jess is the only man that can access the pain Tucker is locked in, and then assist with his healing.
The writing and the character development of Tucker deserve all the praise available. Because we only see what Tucker sees and then only are told what he wants to know, there are a few plot areas that I needed a bit more of to complete the story. Mags is shown through Tucker’s eyes and has a constant persona throughout the story. When Mags finally clues in, I did need a bit more as to why all of a sudden that was the moment where Mags took action. There is an explanation, or more of a brief sequence of events, but it still left me looking for a little more. The media was relentless in their pursuit of Tucker and it did not seem possible that the full scope of his story was not released. Also, in regard to the record company and executives, there was more going on with several players being involved. I needed more information in that area and more responsibility to be taken by the company as a whole as the tormentor was an employee of the company and there was no accountability shown.
It does need to be said once again, that there are passages that are dark and twisted. But, if you are brave enough to open the first page, you will be rewarded with a well crafted story and a fully developed character in Tucker. If ever a character deserved some peace it would be him, and while some wounds will never heal, Tucker, along with Jess, does get a chance to stand in the light.