Roscoe Hall is one of three personal managers for the boy band Atrous, but he works closest with lead singer and face of the band, Maddox Kershaw. Roscoe has long been attracted to the younger man, but he loves his job, and respects the band, so he thinks that it can never happen. Roscoe is committed to helping Maddox, and Atrous as a whole, succeed.
But the boys have been going nonstop since they were signed at sixteen, and that’s a long time for anyone to be working at the pace Atrous has. Maddox is clearly unhappy, and Roscoe doesn’t know how to help. His support can only go so far. As Atrous starts a new world tour to promote their new album, Roscoe can see that Maddox is on the edge. When Maddox leans even harder on Roscoe, Roscoe is there 100%. And when Maddox’s looks and yearning make themselves clear, Roscoe is the one to put on the brakes. He doesn’t want to lose his job, and he certainly doesn’t want to do anything to compromise Maddox.
But Maddox needs him, and one moment changes everything. Roscoe and Maddox give in to their attraction, but they have to keep it under wraps in order to keep everything above board. The internet, however, blows up with speculation about the pair, which the production company has no problem capitalizing on to keep Atrous name trending.
As the tour continues, the men of Atrous are worn thin, but none of them are feeling the strain quite as much as Maddox. He’s literally at the breaking point with his mental health. It’s only with Roscoe’s constant support that he’s able to continue. But when the status quo is upset, Maddox breaks. It’s up to Roscoe, and the whole team, to help Maddox put himself back together again.
I have a tendency to shy away from rockstar stories, because it’s tough for me to find them believable. But I was quick to give this one a try because I’m a fan of Walker’s writing. And she didn’t let me down with this book. It’s layered and nuanced, believable and visceral, and the romance is a key component to driving the story.
The MCs here are very well done. Though it’s told solely from Roscoe’s first person POV, we get to know Maddox just as well. Because Roscoe knows Maddox inside and out, and he can read the younger man incredibly well. The men of Atrous were signed very young, and they’ve been working nonstop since. Now in their early twenties, they are definitely at a breaking point. Roscoe sees it, and through his observations, the reader sees it as well. Maddox, of course, is not only the other star of the book, but he’s also the star of the show. He’s the lead singer and front man, who loves performing, but is an introvert at heart. The long haul has worn him down, and his mental health is suffering.
I loved watching Roscoe get to the point where he accepts his attraction, affection, and even love for Maddox. He’s incredibly supportive of Maddox anyway, but once they move into a romantic relationship, it becomes even more. Maddox leans heavily on Roscoe, needs him there with him all the time. This could have been taken too far, but Walker writes it with a deft hand, skirting the line of true co-dependence, and showing us a young man in serious need of help. There’s a balance here between the management who sees the band as a commodity and therefore need them to perform and be visible, and the band that is made up of five friends who are as close as brothers, who don’t take partying too far and don’t do drugs, and are truly good men who want to make music. They support each other wholly, even if there are a few blips along the way. It sets up a nice backdrop for the romance between Roscoe and Maddox, as well as a way to keep the focus on Maddox’s downward spiral. Maddox’s mental health is a major player here as well, and Walker handles it with the respect it deserves. It gives this tale a weight that balances nicely with the deep love between the MCs.
And what a love story it is. There is a bit of a slow burn at the beginning, as both men pine for the other, while thinking it could never happen. Maddox is the impetus for the start of their relationship, but both men are all in from the start, even if they hesitate to put a label on it. But their love grows quickly, in fact has been growing between them even before they become intimate, and it’s a believable and nuanced journey. There’s an age gap between the two men, but it’s not overly large, and it’s a non-issue between them because they already know each other very well after having worked together for years before the book starts. Here, the story could have felt like it was lacking development. But the author handles it well, so that even though we don’t see all the lead up to where they are when the story starts, we get all those pieces filled in as the story progresses. It’s a lovely romance, warm and sweet, while also hitting the right erotic notes.
Along with the MCs, we have a whole host of characters. including the other members of the band, as well as the members of the management team and the doctor that travels with them. Despite all these secondary characters, no one gets lost, and everyone has a purpose and a unique personality and plays a roll in enhancing the story.
This is, essentially, a tale of two men falling in love while one of them hits a breaking point he needs helps coming back from. There’s a lot of sweet here, but a healthy dose of angst, though I would consider it lower on the angst scale. There are some heavy themes, but Walker handles them with care. Ultimately, it’s also a tale of coming back from a dark place and finding yourself again. I really enjoyed these characters and their journey, and if this book interests you at all, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you to pick it up.