Best NEw ArtistRating: 4.75 stars
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Length: Novel

Kasey “Tuff” Tuffman is a 34-year-old veteran of the country music scene, who inexplicably just won “Best New Artist” and he’s so torqued off about the “honor” that he lets out an expletive-laced rant on live TV while ungraciously accepting the award—and quitting show business. So, he heads back to Austin where he can reconnect with his Red Dirt music roots, his family, and his lost lover: legendary guitarist Jonah Littlejohn.

Jonah can’t believe how spectacularly KT explodes at the awards, but he expects he’ll need a place to land once his star plummets back to earth. So, he reaches out and offers for Tuff to stay at his compound—which includes a lush house, pool, and recording studio. Jonah’s done real well for himself professionally in the time they’ve been separated. Still, not everything in those years has been wonderful. Jonah had an abusive lover that nearly killed him, and he’s taken extreme measures to hide his scars from those looking in.

While KT isn’t about to rush back into anything—he’s been hiding his sexuality for his whole musical career—being near Jonah just feels more right than anything ever. And, the more he learns about Jonah’s trials, the more KT never wants to leave Jonah ever again—and especially not for phony Nashville and it’s bitter promises. No, KT and Jonah are making actual music together, and it’s a soul-restoring experience. If only KT can convince Jonah he’s here for keeps and wants to be at Jonah’s side no matter what.

This is a funny and tender romance, despite the dark experiences. Jonah is so wary of ever connecting with another abuser that he shuts out his whole sexual life for years. Of course, KT was his first and best lover, and Jonah’s fighting the attraction growing between them. KT gets the horrific story of Jonah’s near-demise from friends and eventually Jonah, and the two of them rebuild their relationship from the ground up over the course of a few months. I loved the healing that went on here, and the secondary characters are fantastic additions rounding out the narrative. The deep Texas dialect pretty much transported me to Austin for the price of a book, and I could wallow in their funky syntax for a week. I’d easily read this twice more and still love turning every page.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

veronica sig

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