RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of the Sinners, fans of steamy romances about rock stars
This book was provided from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All quotes taken from the pre-published copy and may be altered or omitted from the final copy.
LOVE the Sinners and their books!!!! While I have to say that the first book, [book:Backstage Pass: Sinners On Tour], is still my favorite of the series, THIS BOOK is probably my 2nd favorite. Why? Eric Sticks!!!
"Show me that you want me, Eric," she whispered. "Show me."
Eric Sticks, the Sinners' drummer, has taken a back-seat in this series so far. But this is HIS book, and he really won my heart! Jace might be shy, but Eric's been the good-natured one. The one with the corny jokes, easy smiles, and too-honest quips. The guy who doesn't think he's hot enough to get the girls on his own, so he watches and takes the "leftovers" from his band mates.
We know from previous books that Eric is the real genius behind the Sinners music arrangements. And that the guy can play virtually any instrument. We also know that Eric's got an ongoing, almost co-dependent relationship with Jon Mallory, the former Sinners base player. Jon was forced out of the band because of his addiction problems, but Eric has been Jon's constant supporter. Why? Jon doesn't seem to have changed.
I'm happy to say that fans will be happy to learn the WHYs behind Eric. It's refreshing to see how uncomplicated this complicated man is. Yes, that sounds like a contradiction, and it is. But we see how Eric CHOOSES to be the person that he is.
As per the usual for this series, the attraction, lust, and love are instant. Eric falls immediately for Rebekah, Dave's younger sister. Dave is the Front-Of-House (FOH) live audio engineer (sound guy). The one who not only drove the Sinners bus, but who was responsible for their sound and lighting in their concerts. At the end of Hot Ticket, the Sinners bus was involved in a serious accident - an accident that almost killed Dave. Reb shows up hoping to temporarily replace Dave on the Sinners' make-up tour dates. She's got Dave's blessing and his notes, and she's got the training and drive.
I like that relationship starts with discovering mutual interests:
By some strange coincidence it was dyed the same blue she'd chosen to dye hers-for the sole purpose of ticking off her mother-not a week ago
and progresses to interests in restoring old cars... and then into a deal of sorts. Rebekah offers to help Eric with a "problem" that he has if he helps her to relax get comfortable with her body again.
Reb thinks that she's making the deal so that she can seduce Trey Mills. But is she?
As hot and sexy as Trey was, she was feeling something more substantial for Eric. She wasn't sure what it was yet. His excitement and enthusiasm made her feel beautiful. Wanted. Irresistible. And he was fun. And generous. And almost as spontaneous as she was. She liked him.
Rebekah needs to be wanted and needed - to feel sexy. She's dealing with her own issues, which include her emotional recovery from a hysterectomy needed to remove cancer and save her life. Reb's dealing with the loss of her ability to have kids at the cost of her own life. She's worried that no man will want her long-term, because she can't have kids.
Rebekah is searching for her own life... her place. She's been drifting from job to job, not quite sure what she wants to do. She's part mechanic, part sound engineer, part not-sure-yet. She's been dealing with a religious mom who thinks that Rebekah's life is supposed to be married to the too-perfect doctor Isaac. Her mother is a narrow-minded harpy who doesn't approve of Reb's choices and takes every opportunity to tell her so. Reb was with Isaac for years - he was a good friend to her, helping her recover from her cancer and surgery. But Reb never quite felt that "spark" with Isaac. And Isaac's the one who made her feel less than a woman, because he didn't like having sex with her - especially after her surgery.
Because Reb is anxious to see if she's any good at sex, she jumps into her arrangement with Eric with both feet. There's a LOT of STEAMY, HOT SEX in this book - almost too much. But it's inventive, fun, and fits both Eric and Rebekah. I love that Reb catches herself thinking about Eric's qualities even when she's obsessing over Trey Mills...
When she really looked at him (Eric), he was actually very attractive. Why hadn't she ever noticed him before? Obscenely tall (from her low vantage point) and lean. Rugged features. Strong jaw. Straight nose. Thin lips with a ready smile and a sexy cleft in the middle of his chin that begged to be stroked with her fingertip. He was no Trey Mills, but...
I like that Reb notices that when she's around Trey (or others), her body's not instantly turned on like it is when she's around Eric.
Ironic enough, the drama in this book comes more from Rebekah's family, mostly her mother. Yes, Eric feels insecure and not good enough to meet her parents,
"That's a bad idea, Reb. Parents don't like me. Not even my own."
And that quote reveals a little about Eric's baggage and his insecurities (which we learn about, too). And yes, Reb has to deal with issues. But mostly, Eric & Rebekah have to deal her mom's intolerance and determination to rule Reb's life.
Which is one of my NITS about this book, and why I have to take away from its rating. I was disappointed in the way that Ms. Cunning portrayed Christians in this book. YES, there are a lot of judgmental folks out there who use "religion" as a way of manipulating others. But Reb's mother is portrayed as a wacko, who's allowed to spout whatever she wishes at those she disapproves of. And for all his tolerance and gentleness, Reb's father does nothing to stop it.
It's also convenient that Reb's mother is off her meds and has had psychological problems. Why is Rebekah the only to see it? Why doesn't her father, the pastor and man who lives with this woman, realize it and do something about it? Is he just uncaring? Does Ms. Cunning see Christians as mean, spiteful, and in need of meds to so that they can be more tolerant? Wacko because they might disagree with the lifestyles of others? To me, this was uncalled for. Especially because Reb's and Dave's father is a pastor. Since he can't control his wife, why should we think that he doesn't believe that what she's saying is true? For the record, not everyone who goes to church or claims to be a Christian is like either of Reb's and Dave's parents.
Another NIT, also about faith issues: SPOILER WARNING! (SKIP TO ==SPOILER END== IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ THIS SPOILER!!!
When Trey is "helping" Isaac figure himself out, Isaac asks for forgiveness before going down on Trey. Does that mean Isaac will do this every time he has sex with a man?
IMO, Trey "forced" Isaac to come out of the closet. Does it matter that Isaac enjoyed the experience and repeated it? Or that he finally realized and owned up to being gay? I'm not sure that it does. Just because there was something positive that came of it all... And then Isaac's attempt to talk to his family and the whole debacle with the "engagement" and the way that Isaac comes out to his father... So much in terms of Isaac that we probably won't ever know.
I understand Isaac's quandry with his faith, and I appreciate that it's not going to go away for him over night. But this seemed... judgmental again.
Overall, these issues of religion and faith left a bad taste in my mouth. I can appreciate that reconciling the two "worlds" and lifestyles of those with a fundamental faith and a band of metal rockers wouldn't be easy, but Ms. Cunning took the easy way out to add drama and spice to this story. It wasn't necessary or needed. Eric and Reb could have stood on their own; they could have faced down disapproval from her mother (or both parents) without it being so vicious and violent.
Another NIT is the way that Trey comes off and the unfortunate way that the books in this series were published, with Trey's book, which should be last in the series, being published before Jace's story Hot Ticket and Eric's story (this one), we already know about the HEAs before we read them and how they came about. Plus, some of the details of Hot Ticket and Wicked Beat don't show up in Trey's story, which just seems odd. Trey also comes off as super manipulative and a bad guy in this book.
Yeah, we know that Trey's a slut, but he tries to play Eric & Rebekah and then gets pissy when she doesn't cooperate. Later, Trey decides to "help" Eric get Reb, but his manipulations, especially of Isaac seemed harsh, forced, and too fast. Especially since Trey doesn't stick around; saying that he's got the perfect someone for Isaac doesn't do much for us or Isaac, since will we ever learn how that resolved?
It's sad, to me, that this is the last book in the Sinners series. I really enjoy each member of the Sinners and their books. This book, in particular, had a lot of joy, light, and fun in it, showing how you can CHOOSE to leave your baggage behind and get on with your life.
Seeing how Eric, Rebekah, and Dave chose to overcome their circumstances is inspiring. Having each of the band members happy and in love is always good. And there was even some resolution with Jon and hope for his future. I can only hope that, somehow, Ms. Cunning lets us get at least glimpses into the Sinners' future, perhaps through Exodus End, Dare's and Reagan's band. The Sinners are supposed to be touring with Exodus End... let's hope!