Killian Desmond is the lead guitarist for Trickster, one of the hottest rock bands around. But despite their rocketing career, tension within the band is high. Killy knows the drummer and his brother, lead singer and bass player Elliot, are together and that the drummer is abusing El. But nothing he can say will get through to his brother. Until one fateful night and a bus crash kills everyone. Except Killy. When the press reports all members of the band died, Killy decides to stay dead. But with pressure from his manager to get back onstage, Killy escapes to the road, leaving everything he knew behind.
Mike Rose lives in a strict household and plays bass for the family gospel band, while also writing most of their songs. But when his preacher stepfather finds out he’s gay, the reverend intends to send Mike to a “conversion camp.” Mike knows he’ll die if he goes, so he escapes, even though it means never talking to his mother or brothers again. He makes his own way, living in his car and picking up work and gigs along the way. And Tricksters’ music helps him through.
When Mike’s Bronco breaks down, he fills in as a bassist for a Trickster cover band in order to get the cash to fix it. Then one night, a guitarist fills in with the band as well. A guitarist who just also happens to be the man Mike arranged a hookup with that night. Mike is the one who realizes that the man claiming to be Killian Desmond actually is Killian Desmond. The band, as a whole, is terrible, but that night on stage, Killy and Mike make magic. And though neither man intends to stick around, they find themselves, night after night, onstage and in bed, making music and making a connection.
A video posted on the internet changes everything, and Killy decides it’s time to tell his truth about what happened with Trickster and why he’s remained “dead” the past three years. He comes out to the world, and with Mike by his side, he reforms Trickster with people he can trust, despite his manager’s objections. But it’s not smooth sailing. Ghosts haunt both men, and despite their connection and growing love, they have battles to face if they want to make music the way they want. They’ve been drifting and surviving a long time, but now they can finally live.
The blurb on this one drew me in and I was quick to pick it up. The story begins with how Mike and Killy both got to the place they are now in their lives. We see Killy’s band fall about and the tragic death of his brother and bandmates. We feel Killy’s pain as he tries to go on. We see Mike’s life crumble as his mother and stepfather cast him out, and how he struggles to survive in a brand new world. We see his heartbreak as he tries to live. The first few chapters are fraught with pain and anger, and though that eases some once the two men meet, it’s present throughout the book.
This is a story of healing. Mike is a little further on than Killy when they meet, and though he still misses his mother and brothers, he’s accepted what his life is. He’s begun to heal. Killy’s wounds are still raw, because he’s only been running and not facing any of his past. But the connection he feels with Mike reminds him of the passion he once had for music. He’s only still been playing because the music won’t leave him, but he doesn’t feel it as he used to. Together, they click on stage, and the music they make together changes both their lives.
Their personal connection is just as strong. Killy always moves on, never even stays the night. But there’s something about Mike that makes him stay. And when they need to move on, they do it together. Heading west, back to LA, where Killy is determined to not only tell his truth, but to record music again. Their chemistry just sings off the page, and there’s no doubt these men have found something worth fighting for, something worth living for.
I loved watching Killy, especially, stand up for himself and for Mike. He’d been drifting long before he decided to hit the road, letting his manager make decisions and trusting him, even if Killy didn’t always agree. But no more. Killy has taken control of his own life, and he’ll do anything he has to in order to keep Mike and the music in it. It all comes to a head when the manager steps too far over the line, but Killy has come into his own, and he will not back down.
I loved the two MCs, and I loved watching their journey. While there were a few moments that seemed either too predictable or too over the top, it was the MCs, their journey, and their passion that really drove the story for me. If you’re looking for a well-paced rock star story, look no further.