Title: Karma With A Grudge
Authors: Reno Macleod & Jaye Valentine
Cover Artist: Jaye Valentine
Publisher: M&V Tailz
Buy Link: Buy Link Karma With A Grudge (A SING! Novel)
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Rating: 1.5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A Novel that had all the makings of an fast paced ride through the inner workings of rock and roll that quickly derailed and fell flat.
Blurb: Coming off his triumphant win of the nationally televised SING competition, singer-songwriter-guitarist Nick Vangard is on the verge of becoming a major player on the rock music scene. From fans to tabloid journalists to record executives, all eyes are on Nick and his lover, singer and keyboardist Logan Hawke, as they travel the country playing smaller venues with their newly formed band.
As Nick and Logan navigate the sometimes treacherous, sometimes too-easy path toward rock stardom, sudden fame thrusts them into the company of older, more experienced musicians, celebrities that they never in a million years thought they’d ever meet. But not all the notice Nick garners is desirable—all that glitters isn’t gold—and some of the attention Nick receives seems downright dangerous. Logan is Nick’s anchor through it all.
Enter Kane Wagner: reigning rock god and Nick’s longtime music idol. Kane’s albums go multi-platinum. He owns a stunning Malibu home right on the beach, and he’s about to embark on an exciting world tour. Kane is also Nick’s obsession, and Nick and Logan are about to learn if all’s fair in love and rock ‘n’ roll.
Review: This is a difficult review for me to write given that I thoroughly enjoyed the prequel to this novel and, overall, thoroughly enjoy the work of this writing team. I also wrestled over whether or not to put most of this review under a “spoiler” alert given that the reason for the lack of stars revolves around plot points not even mentioned in the blurb. Let me restate that–the review I am about to write speaks about events that not only drive this story but are, in fact, the base of this story and are not alluded to anywhere in any author written blurbs that I could find. So, dear reader, please know that from the very beginnings of this story we are thrust into a menage and some fairly heavy cheating.
I will admit to being a bit dumbfounded at the tone and trajectory of this book. It wasn’t the menage or cheating so much, although with no warnings they were a surprise, but the remarkably fast insta-love and the overall lack of realistic reactions of the three men to each other’s cheating ways. More importantly, it was the simplistic plot, the unbelievable resolves to most if not all problems that arose between this triad of lovers and the meandering sprawl of the novel overall. I know these authors–I have read much of their work and loved it–not so with this one. Karma With A Grudge was a poorly crafted novel with a weak story line and characters that I was hard pressed to connect with or really care about.
Karma picks up where the novel, Sing! ended with Nick and Logan now lovers and traveling across the country on tour with the other contestant winner. They have formed a band called Vanguard and are doing a concert when they land a major record deal and their already surreal life turns upside down over night. Now faced with a near constant barrage of adoring fans, a tight deadline to churn out an album in less than 30 days and more star power surrounding them than they could ever imagine, the two boys are simply struggling to take it all in stride.
Enter Nick’s life long obsession, Kane Wagner. During a mega party to introduce Vanguard to the music industry, Kane arrives with his entourage in tow and proceeds to seduce Nick. So begins the first hint of cheating which would become a recurring theme throughout this staggering 484 page novel. From here, the novel rapidly dissolves into an insta-love situation with all three men living together within a few days of meeting one another. Phew–fast work. But all is not rosy in menage land. Nick has a mysterious stalker who is sending creepy texts that are vaguely threatening. And here is your first spoiler and my total jaw dropping reaction to how the novel handled the stalker plot point:
For over half the novel, Nick receives more and more alarming texts from this creepy individual. It turns out that Nick knew his stalker. Terry was a boy he met during a two week fling when Nick was only 17 years old. At that time Terry had not told his wealthy parents his secret. But later, when Nick finally confronts Terry he finds out that Terry was cut off by his parents and not only lost his means to go to college but his home as well. The solution to this sick stalking that went on for months? Nick ends up not only forgiving the guy on the spot but fixing it so he gets a job as a roadie for the band’s tech crew. So, we are to believe that for over half the book this guy was a creepy stalker and Nick just forgives him–just like that? I was speechless–this was just so contrived–and such a let down. This stalking went on for so long and suddenly, poof, it’s fixed? This was truly disappointing.
As one would think of a rock and roll novel, there is near constant parties and groupies for these guys to contend with–all very mind-boggling and tough to handle. While none of the men get into heavy drugs, between the pot use and the booze, inhibitions let loose and everyone but Kane ends up cheating at one point or another, which leads me to one of my biggest criticisms of this novel and our second spoiler:
Both Nick and Logan will at one time not only cheat on Kane, whom they profess to love, but they will do so with the two men who led Kane into a gang rape situation, several years earlier. First Logan has a drunken encounter with Kane’s ex-boyfriend. This would be the same boyfriend that dumped Kane right after hosting a party where he spoon-fed a much younger Kane large amounts of cocaine and booze and then invited several men to rape him. Next, Nick will nearly go all the way with the other man present that night, (that would be the one that Kane’s boyfriend was cheating with) who was also at the party. We are told that this guy actually had the were withal to stop the gang-bang before Kane was seriously injured. And did Logan and Nick realize who they were messing around with before they cheated? The staggering answer? Yes. I was dumbfounded. Not only because of who they cheated with but because just a few pages after each of these incidences Kane unconditionally forgave each of his partners. Yes, forgave them. This from the man who could not, at first, endure anal sex due to the emotional scars from the raping. Just unbelievable.
Finally, beyond the poorly written and incredibly fast notion of insta-love between the men, there was the music that they wrote to each other which was included in the story. Now, please, I do understand that putting some of their lyrics, like the ones to the book’s title song, Karma With A Grudge, in the book is appropriate, particularly since this story is about a rock band. However, we are not talking about one set of lyrics, or even two but several and each more over the top and poorly written than the one before. I realize that is a subjective opinion but the lyrics that were inserted didn’t move the story along or add to the plot, rather they were just there, and, in my opinion, did little to either enrich the story or reveal character thought processes.
Frankly I was shocked. This was not the caliber of writing I had grown to love and expect from these two authors. Karma With A Grudge was a long winded story with an unbelievable case of insta-love, cheating, gratuitous sex and too neatly wrapped up solutions to every problem. I must painfully admit that if I had not had to review this it would have been an DNF for me.
I cannot recommend this novel to you. However, I can tell you that both Reno Macleod and Jaye Valentine have some very fine novels on their book shelves for you to sample. Unfortunately, Karma With A Grudge is not one of them.