Cody Rivers is determined to do whatever it takes to become a rock star, but years after leaving home for Los Angeles, he is still struggling to make it. Cody definitely has made a name for himself, but it is small time and he is still looking for his big break. His agent has suggested that Perfect Harmony, the acapella competitive reality show, might be what Cody needs to get some good national exposure.
Lucas Norwood has joined the show as part of the acapella group from his very small, very conservative college. Both the group and the school are guided by strong religious principles that include a dedication to abstinence before marriage. They are even open to him being gay, as long as he falls into line with their values, rather than living the “gay lifestyle.” Considering his father literally wrote the book about how gay men should adopt rigid conservative guidelines about sex and behavior, Lucas has never stepped outside these strict boundaries. Yes, he may have pushed them a bit, letting himself fantasize or watch porn. But he knows acting on his desires with others and living out his secret fantasies are things he must avoid if he is going to live up to expectations.
Cody is surprised when he sees Lucas eying him up at the first rehearsal. He assumes a clean cut, conservative guy like Lucas wouldn’t want anything to do with Cody’s obvious gay and fabulous self. He is even more surprised when Lucas admits he is both gay and out. Cody was sure a guy like Lucas would be closeted. But despite the fact that Lucas is out, he still holds himself to such rigid standards, standards it is clear are making him miserable. And Cody would be love to be the one to help Lucas cut loose and experiment, especially when he sees how much Lucas loves to let go and put Cody in charge.
As the competition continues, the guys get together, the heat between them off the charts. But Cody is sure there is no future for him with a guy who grew up being taught to reject pretty much everything about Lucas. Especially when he knows he is nowhere near good enough for him. And Lucas knows when the show is over, he will have to return to school and the life his parents have plotted out for him. But just maybe the two can be brave enough to admit how much they care for one another and to take a chance on something neither expected to find.
Ohh, I really loved this one you guys! I am a big competitive reality show fan, so I tend to really like that as a romance novel setting and I think Albert did a great job with it here. The story follows the show from the beginning of premiere week and we get to meet the teams, see behind the scenes for the rehearsals and the costuming and all the big moments. The show lends the story a great structure as we follow along each week, and Albert manages to nicely draw some parallels between what is happening in Cody and Lucas’ relationship and what his happening on the show. There is just enough here to tie things together well without going overboard and making it too gimmicky.
What really sells this story though are the fabulous characters and the wonderful job Albert does showing growth for both of these guys. Cody starts off being so focused on his big break, hoping something will take him away from living in his van and struggling to get by. Cody has pretty much been abandoned all his life and on his own since just after high school. He has learned to count only on himself and he has played this game long enough to know how things work in the industry. I love that Cody is flashy and fabulous, but also vulnerable underneath. He knows he is a star, but down deep part of him still feels the sting of all the rejections. I loved seeing Cody losing some of his jaded side as the story continues. He becomes more real and open and is willing to be vulnerable to Lucas. It is such a lovely progression and rewarding to see him so happy at the end of the story.
As much as I loved Cody, Lucas is such an interesting character. So often coming out stories are filled with either pure acceptance or complete rejection. But Lucas’ parents attitude is somewhere in the middle and that ends up being almost more tricky to navigate because he it seems like acceptance but really isn’t. They are all right that he is gay, they lobby for gay rights at the university, and they seem supportive. But at the same time, it is only under their very rigid guidelines. Lucas’ dad is famous for his book citing the need for gays to avoid clubbing, premarital sex, and other “dangers.” Lucas has been held up as an example all his life, and until the show, has never dared to step outside these rigid expectations. I love watching him push his boundaries, to give in to his own desires and let himself really live. It is such a great character growth and so rewarding to see them together.
Oh, and can I just mention that these guys are super hot together? I mean, super hot. Lucas has a definite kink for being told what to do and Cody knows just how to push his buttons. At first it starts as a way for Lucas to let himself give in to his desires, to give himself permission to indulge because he “doesn’t have a choice.” But over time it just becomes a way for these guys to let out their kink, and they are so hot and delicious together.
So as you can tell, I just loved this one. Great story, fabulous characters, super sexy, and really nicely developed. It is the first of a series and I am really excited about it! Completely loved it and very highly recommended.