Karma WIth A Grudge

8901416136_45cb841f00_zTitle: 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
Length: Novel
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.


A mature woman, gracefully growing older, who lives with 12 cats and talks to imaginary people–had ya going there for a minute didn’t I? I am an avid lover of all things m/m who delights in occasionally teasing Wave!


  • Sammy sorry for all the typos and looks like I cannot edit either. Meant to also say that menages per se are fine by me too.

  • I liked the book. The elements that you are referring to do exist, I just took it differently. The writing is a different style than their other books. I thought Sing! was different also. The writing style seemed similar to Sing!

    As far as the elements of the story, this is definitely different than the norm. This is about the the niche of people where the normal relationship rules are gone. The question is what do they do now?

    The ‘insta love’, is what I expect in a ‘band’ book unless the relationship is a ‘second-chance-at-love’ trope. So I just went with it as with-in expectations.

    The cheating is portrayed as a part of their acclimation struggle to life without limits. How are they going to handle it? As far as the menage… *shrug* … it happens out there, in life without borders. :censorship:

    The mind is flexible. Live in a world where people are getting away with all sorts of things that wouldn’t happen normally, it is astounding what people will do and how they cope. They figured out a way for it to work for them. A way that was stable , happy and satisfying. This was contrasted to the chaos of the opportunities around them. *shrug*

    So, this book is very different and not for everyone. There is also lots of alcohol, sex, pot,sex,alcohol and….. :censorship:

    I’m glad the boys found a stable place that worked for them.

    • Reggie, thanks for your thoughts. But I think you might have misread me? I was not commenting on the cheating or the menage per say–but WHO they opted to cheat with and the unbelievable way Kane just brushed past it. I get what you are saying and agree with your insights but for me it was the quick resolves to what would in anyone’s life be pretty big stuff. I mean, flexible or no–if my boyfriend cheated on me with the man who orchestrated a gang rape for me–well, I am not sure I would forgive and forget so very easily. And the stalker resolve? I just feel there were way too much “quick fixes” in this novel. Perhaps the only thing I disagree on in your comments is the word “stable”–I don’t think stable is a word I would use to describe the cheating Nick did on a pretty active basis. But, again, great insights–thanks for commenting1

      • Oh no. I have no problems with cheating per se myself – I mean I may depending on how it was handled.however I am positive that I will have problems with cheating with somebody who was in charge of orchestrating a gang tape on his lover? I still did not buy Sing and from time to time tried to go back and think about whether I want to. Now I am sure I do not want to because sequel is guaranteed to annoy me. Thanks Sammy – I do not even have to think about other plot points. This one is enough. Menaces af

  • Wow, I love rock star stories and if I had read the first book where the two MCs find happiness together, I think I’d be upset if a third was added in a sequel. Plus the gang rape apology…can’t go there. I’ve liked books from these authors myself. Maybe they wanted to try something different? Sorry it did not work for you.

    • I know Lasha–I was truly just appalled at the idea that Logan and Nick would have anything to do with the two men who stood by and watched their lover be raped–men, who, in fact instigated the entire thing? How can you profess to love someone and then go screw around with the man who got your guy hopped up on cocaine and watched a series of strangers rape him?? It was just too much for me to even comprehend.

  • I did not know there was sequel to “Sing!” so I was excited to see this on the site today. Thanks for saving me the money. I am so disappointed that this relationship turned into a menage and cheating. That’s not how i like to imagine Nick and Logan’s relationship progressing (especially since they broke up over a supposed affair in the first book.) So I will pretend that this sequel does not exist and continue to enjoy re-reading “Sing!”
    Thanks for the reveiw.

    • Exactly Rere, the first book highlighted their breakup–and then this? It was just confusing–this 360–especially as both Logan and Nick were saying to each other over an over how they would always be there for each other, love each other. It was just so out of character this whole menage premise.

  • It is just unbelievable that this writing pair could have written this incredibly horrid book. I have read, loved and reviewed many of their books and enjoyed how edgy their stories are because they were different, and no cookie cutter characters inhabited them. This time, even though I bought Karma, I have no desire to read this poorly crafted book. I’m disappointed beyond belief because I was looking forward to reading the sequel to SING which I enjoyed so much. MacLeod and Valentine are no longer on my auto buy list. What were they thinking???

    Thanks for writing this review Sammy. I know how much this cost you because initially you didn’t want to do so, but eventually did because you wanted to let other readers know what to expect. I do appreciate and understand what this cost you to write such a damning review of a book by one of your favourite writing teams.

    • Thanks, Wave. I, too, was just so disappointed by this novel. I really need to go on record as saying again that these two authors have delivered wonderful books again and again–just not this one.


Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: