Title: With The Band
Author: L.A. Witt
Cover Artist:April Martinez
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel/216 PDF pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: A thrill ride into the crazy world of rock and roll with two protagonists whose love for each other could mean the destruction of their band.
Hard rock band Schadenfreude is finally on the verge of the success that’s eluded them for the last several years. With Aaron McClure as their new lead singer, nothing’s going to stop them…except maybe a steamy, secret relationship between Aaron and bassist Bastian Koehler. Aaron knows all too well what can happen when band members get involved with each other. After all, his last band was a casualty of his last relationship, and Schadenfreude forbids band members from dating for that very reason. But Bastian is too hot to resist, and besides, it’s just sex, so what’s the harm?
Bastian has just gotten out of a long relationship with his volatile ex-fiancée when Aaron catches his eye. The sexy singer is irresistible, and in spite of the potential for strife within the band if this comes out, Bastian can’t help himself.
Their passion in the bedroom is rivaled only by their ambition as musicians, though, and pretty soon, it’s going to tear them, and Schadenfreude apart, if they can’t get back to playing with the band.
Schadenfreude means “pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.” In With The Band L.A. Witt pokes fun at life in a hard-rock band as she puts the members through all kinds of hoops in their quest for that elusive record deal. Told from Aaron’s 1st person POV, With the Band details the ups and downs of his romance with bassist Bastian Koehler, the impact it had on the band when the other members found out Aaron was gay and who he was romancing, the betrayal that devastated him, and ultimately the triumph of love and music over all obstacles.
What you need to know before you buy this book: The sex is very hot and the love scenes are scorching but there’s a lot of sex, so if that’s not your personal trigger this may not be the book for you. However, if you like rock music and want to enter a world where music is king, sweaty sex is the name of the game even before the clothes come off, hot guys rule, and you enjoy a story with lots and lots of angst, then I think you will love this book.
Meet Aaron McClure and Bastian Koehler, two hard edged, incredibly gifted and great looking musicians (are there any ugly musicians?) who are determined to rise to the top of their industry. Aaron had returned home to Seattle after the break-up of his previous band in L.A. because of his affair with another band member. Schadenfreude had recently fired its lead singer and was looking for a replacement at the same time that Aaron was trying to find a new gig. His older siblings Todd and Elena, founding members of the band along with Andre and Bastian, two excitable, sexy Germans, invited him to audition for the vacant position, and from the moment Aaron saw Bastian he knew he was in trouble because he was sex on a stick, but he was out of his reach because he was straight.
Aaron had no intention of disclosing his sexual orientation to the band until he had been with them for a while, but the smoke between him and Bastian exploded into flames and Aaron found out that Bastian was actually bi. They burned up the music, the sheets and each other as they fell madly in love. But there was a strict rule that band members were not allowed to date each other and this meant that no one could find out about their affair. Bastian definitely did not want to come out of the closet or stop seeing Aaron – “he wanted to come, not come to his senses,” and Aaron was concerned that Bastian would never acknowledge they were lovers. Could this mess ever be resolved without destroying yet another band? To complicate the situation even further, they were close to signing a record deal when their affair came to light at the worst time possible, and the in-fighting seemed to go on forever.
L.A. Witt is fast becoming one of my favourite writers because her protagonists and plots are well written and intense and keep me interested until the last page, even when I scream at her guys because they act like real people. Her characters are usually flawed, and I love the way she throws them into different situations and seems to have no idea how to get them out. I think that With the Band is one of her best stories so far but I’m prejudiced because music is one of my top recreational pursuits. With music as a backdrop and protagonists as complicated and high maintenance as Aaron and Bastian, this made for a terrific story. As for the sex, it was awesome, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this review there’s lots of it. The scenes were erotic, moving and tender and the heat and emotions were tangible – the unsteady breathing, the humid air, the tender touches, the kisses, oh my, those kisses! The air sizzled as Aaron and Bastian burned up the pages of the book.
Could WTB have been better? Definitely! IMO some of the scenes could have been deleted without losing anything important, which would have made this an even better story. I also felt that the book slowed down to a crawl in the beginning until the romance kicked in. Although most of the characters were three dimensional there was one glaring exception, Bastian’s ex, who was the stereotypical crazy bitch with no redeeming qualities but she received as much abuse as she gave; I felt that with a little more effort she might have been well drawn. The secondary characters Elena, Todd, Andre and his fiancée Rochelle were all integral to the plot but I don’t think anything would have been lost by cutting a few of the club scenes, although they did provide entertainment and a great insight into how rock bands interact with their fans. What emerged loud and clear was the importance of the music, which rocked.
What did I love best about With The Band? The chemistry between Aaron and Bastian which was palpable, almost alive. At times I forgot I was supposed to be reviewing the book because they were so into each other in every way possible, and when Bastian walked away I could feel Aaron’s heartbreak. But of course this is a romance so there was a happy ending, but it was touch and go for a while. I thought that the story was exciting and dramatic even though the level of angst was almost off the scale!