Title: A Little Bit of Country
Author: Christiane France
Cover Artist: Trace Edward Zaber
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
A Guest Review by Cryselle
Review Summary: Interesting setup but I didn’t believe the conflict and the ending was unsupported.
When misfortune ended Max Mayler’s career as a singer, he bought The Showtime Bar, an establishment with a long history of giving aspiring artists an opportunity to showcase their talents. It’s where Max got his chance, and he wants to continue the tradition.
Jay Ferman has the exceptional voice and the sexy good looks to make it big, and although he’s been performing every Saturday night for weeks, no one pays him any attention. It could be canned music for all they seem to know or care.
Max quickly realizes the problem is Jay’s failure to truly connect with his audience. But, as Max tells one of his servers, he operates a bar and not a school for wannabees. He likes Jay, but his performance deficit is none of Max’s business.
But will Max make it his business and give Jay some much-needed advice, especially after the men connect in a very personal way?
Max uses his bar as a talent launch, since he got his start here and gives other performers the opportunity. So it’s a little contradictory that he’s so standoffish about actually giving critique to someone who’s got most of what it would take to make it. It’s not explicitly an open mike night, or an open mike place in general, so Max’s refusal to say even “You might want to make some eye contact,” is a little weird. If he’s trying to give folks a start, they wouldn’t be surprised he’s supportive, and since he was fairly successful, he might even know what he’s talking about. Most aspiring musicians would treat this like gold.
Max seems to be trying to blend into the woodwork, and his explanation of why doesn’t ring true. Getting punched in the mouth for an opinion suggests he was pretty overbearing when he gave it, and now he’s willing to let a promising singer fall flat without a word. Big change, and one I wasn’t convinced of.
So I found Max contradictory and hard to warm up to, and since a lot of things were stated two and three times over, in his first person dialog and in the surrounding text, it kept me at a distance.
Jay was easier to connect to. Clueless but willing to learn, he was a warmer character, and was the one to reach out to Max, who’s still pulling away. Jay can take instruction, up to a point, and that point was where it fell apart for me. He misconstrues a helpful comment in a bizarre way, and Max’s rationalizations for it made me grit my teeth. The whole segment was forced, and even though Jay later admits he was wrong, he then proceeds to go overboard in the opposite direction.
And Max goes for it. Instant happy ever after, completely unsupported. This was so out of the blue that I couldn’t buy into it at all, as if the story was missing several thousand words of getting from point A to point B.
The sections of this story I was happiest with were the sex scenes, which didn’t go for too much too fast. Their first time was sweet, for a quicky in the office, and their second was hot and a little fumbly, which made me smile.
The sex wasn’t enough to rescue the story, unfortunately. Between the repetitions in the text and hard to believe plot points, this story didn’t work very well for me. 2 stars