Jesse Alexander decided to forgo college so he could pursue music, but in a year and a half, he and his best friend Kenny, and their band Conquest, haven’t gotten very far. They’re still playing dives, and they’ve been through several band members who don’t seem to have the passion, drive, and talent Jesse and Kenny do. Though it’s frustrating, Jesse isn’t going to give up. His talent is astounding, and he only wants to make music.
Evan Arden is a household name, known for his amazing voice. But three and a half years ago, he stepped out of the limelight and all but disappeared. He’s done everything he could to avoid coming back to the U.S., but now he feels the need. He heads to Chicago, where his record label is now headquartered, and ends up hearing Conquest preform. The drums and keyboards are crap, but the lead singer and the guitarists are beyond amazing. Evan is so enamored that he sees them several more times. And then brings one of the top guys at the label to see them as well.
Jesse is thrilled to meet Evan, whom he’s always admired, though Evan catches Jesse at the moment he fires the underachieving band members. Jesse is completely tongue tied, and Evan walks away. But he doesn’t leave, and the two men talk. The spark is so electric that Jesse follows Evan home. The spend the weekend together and the only reason Jesse leaves is because he and Kenny have a meeting with the label.
With Conquest signed to a record deal, and the label hooking them up with new band members, Jesse’s professional life is finally taking off. And his personal one is as well. Evan is everything he’s ever wanted in a man, and Evan feels the same about Jesse. They share parts of themselves they normally wouldn’t, and Jesse’s influence helps Evan start recording again. With both of them poised on new, amazing careers, everything is going great. Until Evan is made aware that the best thing for Jesse would be if they weren’t dating, and he breaks it off to protect Jesse’s burgeoning career. The love between them is so strong that it’s painful for them both. But despite it being the right thing for their careers, it’s clear it’s not the right thing for the men. Now the question is, can they have each other and the music careers they are destined for?
This book was recommended to me quite some time ago by someone who has never failed to rec me a book that I liked. But I hadn’t yet had a chance to read it. When we began discussing Reading Challenge Month, and TBR Challenge Week in particular, I got a gentle reminder about this book. And I knew right away it was the perfect opportunity to stop procrastinating and read a book I’d been wanting to read for a long time. And her recommendation record holds true, because I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Just about everything in it worked for me, from characters, to plot, to pacing, and it’s a great read.
Let’s talk about the characters first, because oh my god, did I love Jesse and Evan. Jesse is young, but he has a really good head on his shoulders. Not to mention an insane intelligence and a talent that knows no bounds. Jesse is cocky and brash, confident really, and he knows it. He’s got this attitude that just rolls off him. He knows what he wants and how he wants it, and he expects nothing less than 100% from himself and those around him. One of the secondary characters, Julian, said it perfectly when he said to Jesse, “That ego of yours is truly magnificent.” Jesse knows he’s insanely talented and smart, and he doesn’t shy away from saying so. He could have come off as annoying, but he didn’t. Frost manages to showcase him perfectly. But underneath all that he has a gentle, truly good heart. Especially where Evan is concerned. Jesse was the whole package, and I basically adored the crap out of him from word one.
Evan has been through some rough times throughout his life. Losing his father at a young age, and then immediately going on tour and promoting his music has shaped him immensely. And then a tragedy had him taking a long and indefinite break from the public world, though he never stopped creating music. He’s got a lot of wounds in his soul, and he’s not someone who lets anyone into his life. But he and Jesse connect on a deep level right from the start. And though it takes him a bit to open up, he knows that Jesse is it for him. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Jesse. So much so that he breaks things off between them for the sake of Jesse’s career. Even though this was a plot point I saw coming, Frost handles it perfectly within the scope of this character. Even though I knew these guys could do things differently if they just had a conversation, the way it happens, and what happens after, is just so consistent for these guys that it made complete and total sense.
Jesse and Evan have chemistry in spades. From the moment they meet, it just sparks off the page and continues throughout the entire book. It’s love at first sight, basically, and from their first weekend together they are embarking on a true, solid, and committed relationship. They live together. They don’t like being without each other. They function better together, are better people when together than they are apart. I absolutely love their relationship. The hot and steamy, the sweet and loving, the comfy and cuddling. Everything worked about these guys.
So despite how much I loved these guys and the book, I did have a few small issues with the story. There were some particular instances of head hopping that pulled me out of the story when they happened. They were most noticeable when there was a random few paragraphs from a secondary character’s POV and then it would shift back to one of the MCs. Sometimes I had to read certain parts over again to make sure I understood who was thinking what. It didn’t happen a lot, but enough that it was distracting. There was also a side story with one of the secondary MCs that I just didn’t understand why it was there. It didn’t enhance the plot and it actually made me not like the character in the end. So that brought things down for me a little bit.
But I loved these guys from the start, and I loved watching their story unfold. I’m so glad I finally got a chance to read this book. It’s the first of a series, and Jesse and Evan have another book, while the rest follow characters in their circle as they find their own loves. I’ll definitely be picking up more, and I’m so glad I finally got to read this book. And if you haven’t yet, then you definitely should.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for TBR Pile Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of this week’s fabulous prizes from NineStar Press. One lucky winner will receive a copy of all the NineStar Press releases for six months in ebook, and another will win a collection of seven print books. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on TBR Pile Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!