Author: Lane Hayes
Narrator: Seth Clayton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars for story: 5 stars for narration
Buy Links: DSP
Received from Publisher
Blurb: A Kind of Story
Rand O’Malley dreams of superstardom. He hopes to one day sing the blues like a rock god. Moving to New York City and hiring a new manager are steps to make his dreams a reality. But nothing moves as fast as Rand would like, and everyone has opinions, for example that he should keep certain pieces of himself quiet if he plans on making it in the Big Apple. Like his bisexuality.
Will Sanders is a gifted musician who dazzles Rand with his ability to coax gorgeous notes from an electric guitar one moment and play the piano like a professional the next. He’s a geek, but Rand isn’t concerned about Will’s pressed exterior clashing with his tattoos. His focus is music. Yet there’s something about Will that makes Rand think there’s much more to the quiet college student than he lets on. As Rand’s dreams begin to materialize, he’s forced to reconsider his priorities and find his own kind of truth. One that might include Will.
Review: I had not read this story before experiencing the audio version for review.
I was absolutely 100% caught up in this tale from the first word spoken. Interesting that it revolves around musicians, as the performance by Seth Clayton earned him rock star status on my list of narrators! His sparkling narration of Lane Hayes’ surprisingly touching story kept me highly entertained and invested. Rand, Will and crew truly came to life through the combined talents of author and narrator. Extra points for the awesome singing. 😉
Quite simply, I fell in love with Rand and Will through Rand’s completely transparent POV. These two shining and genuine main characters made a rocking couple. There was so much heart in this story. Even throughout the rough patches, Rand and Will’s relationship held true, and held my attention. I had to know what happened next. There was some trepidation along the way, and a host of ne’er do wells trying to wreak havoc, but overwhelmingly there was triumph and joy.
Rand O’Malley came to New York City with lofty goals. He wanted to be successful in the music business. Scratch that, he wanted to be a star. Songwriting, singing, and playing music were his passion. The story begins depicting Rand as flashy front-man for a band called Spiral. The guys were getting club gigs in NYC, Rand shared a tiny apartment with his bandmate Tim and he worked at a bagel shop to make ends meet. He and the band were working hard writing songs, practicing and making connections. I clicked immediately with Rand and enjoyed the heck out of getting into his self- assured head. Rand, while clearly driven, was incredibly likeable. He was not a music asshole narcissist, not the type to do “whatever it took”. He didn’t want to publicize the fact that he was bi-sexual, but he felt that was in the best interest of the band. Best to wait until they were established and hopefully under contract before bringing that tidbit to life. Rand was always looking for ways to better himself, he felt his guitar playing wasn’t up to snuff, so he sought help to improve. Rand had integrity and vision, but as he was soon to discover, he needed to buy a few clues regarding Will and reality.
Enter Will Sanders. The slender, quiet and slightly geeky Will was a very gifted student of music at NYU. He was also a music tutor, which is how Rand ended up in a studio with him. Rand was attracted to Will from the get go. One night at a club, Rand discovered Will wearing a wig, dress, glitter, fishnets – and an older man on his arm. His interest skyrocketed. This interest was far from purely sexual. Turned out Will was involved in some shady business with the older man, and had a bizarre relationship with his ultra conservative family. Rand wanted Will, but he also wanted to help him overcome his issues. I wanted to nurture Will. He seemed strong and independent on one hand, yet he was so vulnerable and willing to sacrifice his authentic self. With is penchant for hiding behind wigs and eye-liner, Will was definitely more complex than he originally appeared, which was one of the reason’s Rand was so drawn to him. I was so relieved for Will when Rand entered his life – he needed somebody to be in his corner. The author did a beautiful job of conveying Rand’s emotions and thought process as he and Will launched a smoldering, steal your breath away affair. Will was not experienced sexually, and neither man had relationship know how, but even though Rand felt he was bumbling it at times, they felt their way through at a perfect pace for them. The lovemaking scenes were hot, gorgeous, and fully served to further the emotional connection between Rand and Will. The author didn’t rush through any stage of the relationship. There was dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. And I ate it up. The guys talked, maybe not always about what they should have, or with complete honesty, but we were clearly shown close interaction between them. I appreciated this detail immensely as it melded me emotionally to the characters.
As the pair’s relationship blossomed, Spiral’s popularity did too. The band had issues, such as Terry, the lead guitar player, not being talented or trustworthy enough. Rand wanted Will to replace Terry. There was also a piranha by the name of Leah who set her sights on Rand. Avoiding her was tricky, as he and Will were not public with their relationship. Plus, she knew Rand was bi. Leah craftily took up with Terry to stay close to the band, and to Rand. She had PR connections which actually panned out, so Rand and Will put up with her bold advances and insistence that she knew best how to handle publicity for Spiral. The entire band- including Leah- were well aware that Rand and Will were a couple. This tidbit was about to cause Spiral’s fledgling recording deal to crash before it got off the ground. Just as Spiral was poised for great things, Rand and Will had to face the music of their truth.
I had one issue with the story. I loathed Leah. Sure, I was supposed to, yet her level of manipulation, combined with Rand’s tolerance of it, had me grinding my teeth. She was a vindictive snake and I sorely wanted Rand to kick her to the curb. Her level of evil and Rand’s acceptance of it nearly caused me to stop listening. Luckily, Rand did have some limitations where she was concerned. Phew! Both Rand and Will tended to act fairly naïve about their relationship. Watching them cocooned in their love with their dreams and perceived safety net was sweet. But knowing they sat poised on the brink of change lent an edge of anxiety as I listened. I suppose yelling at the dashboard of my car while driving shows emotional investment in the story, which is exactly what I want from a book! 😀
The other members of Spiral, in fact most of the secondary characters other than Leah, stayed pretty much in the background. Not to say they weren’t key, as a matter of fact, some of them were. The author gave us just enough information and page time with them as was necessary to the story, but nothing superfluous. This was Rand’s love story with Will first and foremost, the story of he and Will’s personal growth second, and the story of Spiral third.
At the climax, Will and Rand’s non-public relationship, Rand’s sexual orientation, Leah’s manipulation, Rand’s protectiveness, and Will’s family secrets came crashing down around them. The glorious, soul-stirring resolution of the potential fall- out had me cheering. What could have been a huge misunderstanding, blow-up, lose it all situation turned into a triumph. Rand stepped up, Will stepped up, (even the record company stepped up!) and they slayed their dragons together. I was cheering!
I called this story surprisingly touching. I want to expound on that description. I’ve read many stories about bands, musicians, singers etc. where the angst level is sky high, where one of the guys acts like a jerk and just about sells his soul to “make it” in the business. This story takes a refreshing departure from said approach. Sure, Rand was driven to succeed, but once he met Will, his sole focus shifted. It just took him a while to recognize the truth of his feelings – and to sing them to the world. ♪♫