Title: Best New Artist
Author: BA Tortuga; Narrator: Brian Hutchison
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 25, 2017
Genre(s): Gay Contemporary
Page Count: 204 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Kasey “Tuff” Tuffman just told Nashville to kiss his you know what. After winning Best New Artist at an award show, he knows it’s time to head back home to Texas. So after a very public meltdown, Tuff makes his way to Austin, where the Red Dirt music lives large.
Jonah Littlejohn once loved KT more than anything in the world. When KT loses it on national TV, Jonah knows he has to reach out and offer his home studio as a place to heal and make music. A bad relationship has left Jonah broken and wary of romance, but he wants to help his old lover out.
Seeing Jonah again proves to Tuff that he’s made the right decision. Now all he has to do is convince Jonah that they’re the most perfect duet there’s ever been.
This is one of those stories that can be encapsulated by a few short sentences; however, given that this would spoil the whole story for the reader, these will remain unspoken. It is a simple love story at heart with a limited and quite focused cast. The characterization is strong with good differentiation between the roles. The focus is on the interaction between the characters and as such the description of the surroundings is described with enough detail to contextualize the thoughts and discussions. The language is peppered throughout with colloquialisms, which will either appeal to the reader or grate. There are the usual reflections by the lead characters that explain the regrowth of their relationship with doubts and misunderstandings throughout. It has to be said that these are not over-used and the tension level throughout is quite low. Both characters have history that they need to understand and accept but this is neatly handled without angst.
The narration is clear and well paced. There is a strong accent throughout but the story remains understandable. It is however an accent that often inserts a riser at the end of sentences even when no question has been asked. This takes some getting used to as it can distract from the flow of the story. Another thing to note is that the voices of the lead characters are very similar with one being slightly lower register than the other. This can make differentiation of voices difficult at times. In addition the vocal range seems at odds with the characters. The character who appears strong, independent and outgoing with the ‘Tuff’ name has the softer higher range, whilst the more vulnerable stay at home character with the gentle name ‘Jo-Jo’ has the deeper, gruffer voice.
There is a strong relationship between the two leads throughout. Obviously there are issues built around lack of understanding that need to be clarified and resolved, but in every case this results in a strengthened bond. Where outside influences impinge on these characters, they are handled without trauma and there is a positive spin throughout.
For such a simple story, the pace is satisfactory, but it did tend to drag towards the end, as there was limited substance and it was clear what the outcome was going to be.
The ending provided a positive spin on the threads of the tale. Where certain wider themes or relationships with secondary characters are raised throughout the book, they are either left to the reader to decide the outcome or are hinted at. As such the conclusion is that whilst there may be issues to face in the future, these can be handled.