When a rock band loses its front man and key crowd pleaser, what are the other members to do but try and find a replacement? After poorly dealing with the hurt and anger left behind by the betrayal of their lead singer leaving them, Riley sits in a restaurant wracking his brains as to what to do next. The band must find a new lead singer and guitarist, but it’s not going to be easy. All the stellar talent is already playing for someone else. With Rocktoberfest looming, he and the other guys are really hoping to make their mark there and move into the big time, but that’s impossible without a full ensemble.
Then Riley hears a voice, a gorgeous voice coming from the back of the restaurant. When he barges in to the kitchen, the last person he expects to see washing the dishes is Dez Conway, the uber talented singer/musician. He asks Dez to come to the band’s audition, but Dez wants nothing to do with it. He’s been burned by not one, but two, bands in the past, places where he thought he had a home and friends, but found out they didn’t want him or his talents after all. Still, the idea of being on the road and making music again is definitely appealing. However, he fears this will turn out like all the other times and leave Dez alone, messed up, and bitter again.
Author Layla Dorine has added her story, Tattered Angel, to the Road to Rocktoberfest collection. Each story is a standalone, while focusing on the major rock concert and the bands who will participate in it. In this novel, the focus is on a band desperately trying to rebuild itself so they can attend the festival. With each member being hugely talented, they are still minus a lead singer who can also play lead guitar for the group. The guys are angry at their former singer, as he not only took their name with him when he left, but also trashed the remaining members as talentless losers. Riley is determined to see the band reform and win a place at Rocktoberfest, an event where their ex-lead is likely to be with his own new band.
As this story unravels, it explores the hurt and residual anger left behind by the loss of their front man, as well as focusing on Riley and his emotions and Dez and his fears about being dumped once again. Dez can’t handle that again; it nearly destroyed his faith in himself and his love for music and so, when he finally works up the courage to audition, he is loath to reveal himself completely, keeping his emotions and trust in check. But the guys in the band are not having any of that and before long, they are on the road playing lesser venues in order to create new music for their audition tape and get used to playing together. While doing so, Riley realizes he really likes Dez and vice versa, but since neither of them come clean about their feelings, they dance around the truth and often get hurt by each other’s seeming lack of interest in the other.
It’s here that the novel began to lose its shine for me. There is so much random story telling in the first half of this novel, I must admit it got boring for me to read. I wanted the relationship to move forward—for Dez and Riley to at least admit aloud that they were interested in each other. But, unfortunately, instead we would get another background story that seemed to have very little to do with the main plot. That is not the only bump in the road I discovered. Along with that is the extremely close friendship Dez builds with another band member, who he is constantly touching and confiding in. Poor Riley is expected not to assume there is something going on between the two when he often finds them in blatantly compromising positions together. Then there is the dangling plot point of what exactly Dez takes medication for and why he obviously has PTSD from something in his past. Is it that he felt so betrayed and wounded by those who dumped him? Are the nightmares that haunt him to do with that or something else? Why does he take these meds? I never found the answer to those questions and. since it came up more than once. I found myself really frustrated not to be given the means to understand his situation. Since I assume there will not be a sequel to this story. I think I must surmise that the author simply decided not to give details. This surprised me because I really have enjoyed Layla Dorine’s stories in the past and fully intend to in the future. I just felt this novel is not up to the same standard I have come to expect from this writer.
Tattered Angel had lots of great action and a good story. particularly in the latter half of the book. As far as slow burn romances go. this one is definitely a contender. but the sometimes the rambling side stories of the first half and the unfinished plot points keep me from really embracing this as a must read novel.