Sunday 7 September 2014

#CBR6 Book 89: "Lead" by Kylie Scott

Page count: 288 pages
Rating: 3 stars

This is the third book in the Stage Dive series, and while the books can be read as stand-alones and independently of each other, the series is best read in order. Start with Lick and if you like it, move on to Play. If you don't like the first two, then book three is probably not going to be your thing either.

James "Jimmy" Ferris is the lead singer of the hugely popular, world famous rock band Stage Dive and he's had a rough few months. Having hit rock bottom after years of drinking, doing drugs and generally enjoying being a bit of a d*ck, he's gone through rehab and is now trying to clean up his act. His band mates hire Lena Morrissey to be his personal assistant, and well, babysitter. She lives with him, makes sure he stays sober and generally tries to keep him from acting like an out of control asshole. She has a long history of falling for the wrong guy, most recently, her boyfriend dumped her for her own sister, and she now has to decide whether she's going to cause her family a huge amount of upset by refusing to show up at their wedding.

Preparing for the funeral of the Ferris brothers' surrogate mother of sorts, Jimmy is sorely tempted to give in and drink. The Ferris brothers' own mother is a horrible woman, who is still drunk, constantly trying to cash in on the fame of her two sons (David is the songwriter and guitarist in the band). Lena manages to stop him, but has trouble staying impersonal and detached after Jimmy basically breaks down and cries all over her. Despite their sizzling chemistry, Lena knows that it would be a monumentally bad idea to fall for her damaged and messed up boss, and tries to stay professional at all times. She even agrees to go out on a number of dates arranged for her by Jimmy and the other members of the band, when all she really wants is to jump Jimmy.

In the previous two Stage Dive books, Jimmy hasn't been the villain, exactly, but he sure hasn't been very likable. A drunken, loutish douchebag, who made an unwelcome pass on his new sister-in-law and generally made life difficult for his brother and band mates. I was interested in seeing how Scott was going to redeem him in this book, and am sorry to say that I don't think she really did. It's clear that there are reasons for Jimmy's uncontrollable behaviour, his partying, the drink and the drugs, not helped by his shitty upbringing and his awful excuse for a mother. He's managed to shelter his younger brother from realising just how toxic their mother was, but for all that there are good reasons for his life being messed up, I didn't think he needed to act the way he did. He's frequently quite rude and unpleasant to those around him, not least Lena, who he tries to force into quitting by being as disagreeable as possible.

I've said before, romances where you think the heroine should end up with someone else, are just not all that effective. Lena is amazing. She's tough, snarky and I would love for her to be my friend. She doesn't suffer fools gladly, and is hired to be Jimmy's live in assistant and sobriety companion after the band's manager fires her for sarcastically talking back at him. She's actively trying to avoid her family, as having to deal with your ex marrying your younger sister is trying at the best of times. So falling in love with her extremely sexy, but clearly damaged employer is not going to make her life easier. Lena and the rest of the band with their assorted spouses and friends is what made this book worth it for me. If I had my way, Lena would have found someone truly worthy of her, and Jimmy would emerge a better person after years of therapy, but even then, would be unlikely to be good enough for Lena. Absolutely the weakest of the series so far.

This doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to Deep, the concluding volume of the series, when drummer Mal and his girlfriend are going to get married in Vegas, and the bassist of Stage Dive finally succumbs to his own happily ever after. Most of this series has been a lot of fun, and the reviews Lead has on Goodreads suggests that a lot of people disagree with me about Jimmy's effectiveness as a hero.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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