Title: Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, Volume 7
Author: Cecilia Tan
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Page Count: 421
Reviewed by: LenaLena
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
Ziggy went to India. Daron traveled the world. Is the music business ready for what happens when they meet again?
When last we saw guitar prodigy Daron Marks, he was on a beach in Australia on the very last day of 1989. A new decade has dawned and Daron has little choice but to embrace change in the face of Ziggy going AWOL and poor record sales. Daron embarks on a journey of artistic growth, studying more styles of guitar and music, a journey that takes him from Virginia to Spain to New York City.
But while he prepares for whatever may come next in his career, is Daron prepared for his inevitable reunion with Ziggy? Ziggy is back and he’s got a plan.
I am not sure what there is left to say about volume 7 that I haven’t said before about volume 1-4, 5 and 6 before. Except that these books are so effing good and Daron is so effing real and that is still just as true for volume 7 and that is really quite a feat. Most series I quit because they get boring and repetitive and they start feeling like fanservice (or like milking the fanbase) rather than that the author still has a story to tell. This is nothing like that.
So Daron and Ziggy are finally reunited in this book, something we’ve been waiting for since…. book 2, really. And it’s intense. And it stays intense, because if there is one thing for sure, it’s that these two will never end up in the complacent domesticity that passes for an HEA in most m/m romance. They’ve got too much shit to work out, for themselves and together, they are too different, they’ve got too much water under the bridge. But they’re trying. Hard. And it’s a beautiful thing to witness.
So rather than trying to dredge up more superlatives and repeating myself, I’m just going to leave you with more quotes.
“Mills is the one who wants to break up the band, not me.”
Ziggy’s spine straightened. “What did he tell you?”
“A load of crap so far as I’m concerned. What did he tell you?”
“That while I was in rehab you whored yourself out to a lot of other bands, looking for a new job, and in the end you re-joined Nomad.”
I should not have been defensive, but I was. “That’s called making a living.”
“Oh, so you did what you had to do? How’s that different from me?”
“For fuck’s sake, Ziggy, I’m a professional musician. So are you. You are not, however, a professional professional.” I couldn’t bring myself to use the word “whore” again, not even though–or maybe because–he’d just used it.
“I’m an entertainer,” he said.
“Fine. Entertainer, actor, celebrity, fine. That doesn’t mean you have to have sex with whoever’s in charge.”
“But I like the sex.”
“Is that why you do it? Honestly? You just like it?” I had a sudden feeling of deja vu. Didn’t we have this conversation once before? Or had I imagined it? In the time we were apart there were so many things I wished we’d said I wondered if I were mixing fantasy with memory. “Let me be clear about this, Ziggy Ferias.” Yes, I was using last-name level vehemence. “I get jealous. I do. But I could live with you sleeping with whoever you wanted if that’s all it was about, freedom and being yourself and enjoying sex for the sake of sex. But when it’s this control-game bullshit? It makes me want to run far, far away. If you’re lovers with Richard Whatshisface, the director? Okay, fine. But you just told me he’s a closet case you control with his joystick.”
To which Ziggy had only three little words to say, in a very small voice. “You get jealous?”
And then I had one of those weird moments of clarity, as if the rules of a game had suddenly presented a loophole to me. I didn’t care so much whether it was “true” that he had, or had not, tried to kill himself. What I actually cared about was that he knew that I worried about it, and I wanted him to do something about it. Not to “tell me the truth” necessarily, but to acknowledge that I felt the way I did. And you know what would have to happen for that?
I would have to tell him how I felt. Fuck.
I let my own eyes close for a second while I drew a breath. When I opened them, he was looking right at me. Here goes. “I really worried you tried to kill yourself. And I really worried it was…” My throat got so tight I could barely choke out the last two words. “…my fault.”
Shit. Ziggy cracked like a second-rate aquarium and like that he was projectile crying. I don’t know which one of us had the bright idea to hug the other. Maybe it was spontaneous. We ended up pressed together, me cradling his head while he wept into my shirt and I dripped tears into his hair.
“Okay, hang on, if we’re going out I’m changing my clothes,” Ziggy said. “Five minutes.”
He ran up to my room. I resisted the urge to follow him and watch him undress because–come on, people–I’d just been listening to him sing for an hour. If you didn’t expect it to be like an hour of foreplay you haven’t been paying attention.
Her: I’m not saying don’t be upset. You have every right to be upset. But… but you’re getting paid for not lifting a finger.
Me: For my life’s work.
Her: Listen to yourself. You’re twenty-four years old–
Her: –Even worse. You’re only twenty-three and you’re calling two albums and an EP your life’s work?
Me: Okay, I misspoke. Life’s work is… I can’t explain it.
Her: I can. You wrapped a huge amount of your ego and your self-esteem and your identity in the band. Come on. Isn’t it obvious? You named the band after your persona. But maybe it’s time to stop mixing up the band and you.
Her: Daron? Are you there?
“I knew I could never do it alone. I knew I wanted to do rock and I’ve always known that would mean finding a singer.” I found myself sucking in a breath, then, pulling myself back from the edge of tears, feeling like this was turning into a breakup conversation before I gave it a chance. “When you find the one, you know.”
He got to his feet suddenly, and I watched him beat back his anger, stuff it back down inside himself so that he could tell me something instead of screaming it at me. “You know how you said I should have asked you about it before I signed the contract?”
“Maybe you should have said that sooner, too.”
“Label shmabel. It’s just another fucking hand of conformity trying to crush me, Sarah. Every time I think I’ve escaped it, wham, another one comes down!”
“Is that all it is? Rebelling against your suburban upbringing? Wow, that’s really fucking original. Not a cliche at all. You know what says angsty whiteboy pain better than anything else? Anthemic guitar solos. That’s so so much less of a cliche than a big Broadway number, oh yeah right.”
Oh shit I’m in trouble, I thought. I’m having a fight with a friend, like a serious, we’re-both-mad-and-upset kind of fight, and on top of that, fuck, if she’s right, and I think she is… something in the bedrock of my self-identity is crumbling away.
And that always sucks.
Even if it’s necessary.
Even though I was putting the brakes on in my brain, my mouth was still going, which goes to show how upset I was. “I don’t do those piece-of-shit anthem solos and you know it.”
“Tell yourself that if you need to, but I thought you were over lying to yourself. I think you’re saying all of that to justify what’s happened and the choices you made that led to it.”
“Oh yeah? I’m pretty sure you’re saying what you’re saying because you’re about to hit the road with a fifty-person entourage, wearing a rhinestone-studded bra.”
She slapped me. I deserved it.
“Remo, the guys, they all know about me.”
“And me?” Oh, the skeptical eyebrow.
“Remo knows. The rest have made guesses.”
He came out and said it: “They wouldn’t find the whole fucking-a-bandmate thing a taboo?”
I came right back. “We’re not bandmates anymore, Ziggy.”
He stopped dead in his tracks. His lips parted and his mouth opened slowly and I realized that was his jaw going slack.
I wanted to reach up caress that jaw. Instead I made my voice gentle. “We’re not, remember?”