The death of his band mate and surrogate brother has sent musician Devlin Waters into a tailspin of grief and aimlessness. Gone is the music that has been the focus of his life for the last twenty years. Now he finds himself enrolling in college, desperate to find a new passion and a way to move on.
When Devlin saunters into Dr. Jack Johnson’s Intro to Archaeology class, he doesn’t expect a harmless flirtation to blossom into something more. Jack doesn’t recognize Devlin right away, but when he does, he finds himself trapped between an uncomfortable reality and an unbelievable fantasy. Jack may be a stiff necked professor by day, but on the weekends his punk alter ego flourishes as he performs in a cover band dedicated to Devlin’s music. But telling the truth is far from easy and both men must deal with their complicated pasts in order to explore what love may offer.
Banded Together was exceptionally well done and stands out for its excellent character development, particularly Devlin’s. His grief throughout the book is real and visceral and reads as devastatingly believable. He has lost not only a friend, but also his livelihood and the music he loves. In the midst of this grief he has also effectively pushed away everyone but his mother and withdrawn from the world. His decision to return to school is far from easy, but I appreciated the courage and strength it takes to move forward when falling apart would be so much easier. Jack is a somewhat more difficult character with whom to connect and part of that stems from his seemingly double persona. It’s hard to reconcile the punk rocker with the staid archaeologist and I think part of this stems from the fact we have less information about Jack. He isn’t as well developed as Devlin. This is not to say he’s one dimensional or flat, only that Devlin is portrayed more completely and thoroughly. And while I would have liked more information about Jack, Banded Together is really about Devlin and his journey to find peace.
The book has a wonderful pacing until the last few chapters. Then things take on a hurried, almost frantic pace. There is an abrupt shift in the action and while the scenes are important, they lack the measured, even pacing that made the majority of the book such a pleasure to read. The plot tends to stretch the limits of incredulity at times and normally this would be an issue for me. But Banded Together is engrossing and reads so smoothly (save the aforementioned pacing issue) that I was able to just go with the flow regarding the plot. It’s one of those things that just didn’t irritate me too much.
Banded Together is well written and a wonderfully engaging novel. Devlin’s transition from a broken man into something more was deftly and elegantly handled. Jack is somewhat cast in Devlin’s shadow, but has enough personality to make his mark. Even issues with the plot and pacing were generally minor. Consider this one a must read for anyone who loves music and a bit of angst. And it isn’t often we get a book with punk so fans rejoice!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.