Author: Jet Mykles
Cover Artist: Laura Carboni
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: Amazon Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Fabulous Gay For You story set in the realistic world of rock and roll.
Sex. Drugs. Rock ‘n Roll. Nick Gorman’s got it all. He’s on top of the world, living his dream, playing guitar on stage in front of thousands of people with non-other than Marlowe. The famous singer could have had his choice of anyone to replace his former guitarist, but he picked Nick to tour with him. Now Nick’s star is on the rise, all thanks to Marlowe, who’s not only Nick’s idol but is fast becoming a terrific friend.
In the blink of an eye, it all turns upside down. A drug-hazed time in a bed alone with Marlowe forces Nick to be aware that the rock star’s interest in him is more than just friendly. Then, before he can even react to that, both singer and guitarist are in a near-fatal accident that could ruin both their careers. What now? Marlowe’s in jail for two years and Nick is broken. Could they ever play together again, let alone explore the sizzling reverberations that still exist between them?
I’m a huge Jet Mykles fan and when I saw that she had a new book out, I snapped it up as soon as I could. Like her Heaven Sent series, this book deals with the world of musicians, singers and bands. Unlike her Heaven Sent series this is quite a gritty look at the reality of fame alongside a Gay For You plot.
The book begins with out hero Nick at a high point in his life. He’s a guitarist who is on tour with famous singer/songwriter Marlowe. Nick is exactly where he wants to be. He’s working with a band he respects and who want to start including some of his songs; he’s getting rave reviews for his guitar playing; and he has the pick of all the entertainment that living in the fast lane can offer. What Nick hadn’t realised is that Marlowe wants more than just friendship from Nick. However, on the night that Nick learns this, tragedy strikes leaving Nick with mixed feelings of hate and bewilderment towards Marlowe.
There are two strands to this story. The first follows Nick as he recovers after the accident and tries to sort out his feelings for Marlowe. Nick is a fully formed and very sympathetic character. The way that his feelings change and evolve over the course of the story is realistic, especially because Nick is very definitely straight at the start. There’s no quick change for Nick, no sudden realisation that he finds Marlowe attractive, just a steady shift in his evaluation of his own sexuality which is convincingly mixed with confusion and denial. When the time came that Nick had finally sorted out his feelings, I was pleased for him. Alongside this is Nick absolute love of music and a burning ambition to succeed. When he is injured, his whole world falls apart, and yet his determination to overcome all obstacles and get back to where he was before the accident is admirable. I liked Nick a great deal. He’s the voice of reason and dedication in the crazy world of rock and roll.
The second strand follows that of Marlowe and his rehabilitation. In fact there are two Marlowes in this story: The bright, talented, drugged up, exuberant and egotistical Marlowe at the beginning, and the man he becomes after the accident. In many ways I liked both sides of Marlowe, although I was more sympathetic to to Marlowe at the end of the book. The change in Marlowe is forced by circumstance and therefore less gradual. It was almost a shock to me when the change happens and in a way I mourned the man from the beginning of the book, whilst also recognising that there was a need for change. Nick too often expresses a sense of sorrow at the change in Marlowe. Having said that, the change isn’t a bad thing, much of what happens with the band just would not have occurred if Marlowe hadn’t changed.
Intertwined with these two character strands is the world of rock and roll. This isn’t the slightly sanitised version we see in the Heaven Sent books, but a world where sex is easy to come by, drugs and alcohol are taken indiscriminately and good sense is thrown out in favour of a good time. Much of this world is seen through Nick’s eyes at the beginning and I liked that he’s so matter of fact about the whole thing. Those readers who are squeamish about drugs and multiple partners may not find this to their taste. Both Nick and Marlowe take drugs and have sex with women in the story – although the sex is all off page – and whilst I felt this was realistic given the subject matter some readers may find it offputting.
The final part of the book focuses on the consolidation of the GFY plot, and how to make the romance work between the men when they are trying to keep that aspect private. There are also some issues still with Nick having sex with a man which are worked through at this point. I have to be honest and say that this part was the weakest point of the book for me, although I can see the reasons why it was included – possibly to show that the pair still have difficulties that need working out and to force a commitment. However, even this slight niggle didn’t diminish my overall great enjoyment of the book.
Overall, Reverb was an arresting read which was difficult to put down. It addresses a GFY storyline with depth and maturity, focussing on character and conflict to great effect. The setting of the music industry was full of lots of great incidental details which created a complete and vivid background for the story to take place. This may not have the lighthearted themes of the Heaven Sent books, but I wouldn’t want it any other way as I was drawn into the lives of Nick and Marlowe; their mistakes and successes. Reverb is Heaven Sent all grown up and I loved it.