This was definitely an enjoyable read. Like fun from the beginning to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The best thing about it was that it ended up not actually being a slow burn but more of a medium burn.
Initially, I was on the fence because it started off with the usual hidden identity. As far as slow burns go, usually this plot angle lasts almost the entire book. It still lasted a bit too long but not long enough to drive me crazy. The other problem with this is it’s hard for me to believe that Ellis didn’t know what Cinder looked like. Even if I ignore that, upon first meeting Cinder was in full Rockstar garb with his eyeliner on, nails painted, so he looked just like his Rockstar image. Ignoring this Ellis still heard him speak on stage and watched him, even from a distance with good eyes he never considered once that none of the musicians looked like Cinder and that the lead singer did, and that his spoken voice matched the guy hiding in the control room when they first met. The plot hanged heavy in the beginning on this but it was too much of a stretch to think that, considering Ellis’ stepfather was the lead engineer that he hadn’t seen his face. What about the promotion at the venue? There would be photos of him everywhere as he was the main act and Ellis literally lived in one of the storage rooms. There is no way he hadn’t seen his face even by accident.
That aside when a bunch of raving fans are screaming Cinder at the top of their lungs there is no way Cinder should’ve still had to tell him who he was. If anything, the name is what should have triggered Ellis’ anxiety and then panic from being caught in the storm of fans add to this realisation.
The relationship itself progressed at the perfect pace. It wasn’t dragged out for the whole book. The main characters flirted, hooked up and then we got to see the relationship progress instead of being stuck the whole book waiting for it to happen in true slow-burn style. The tension was at the right levels. The humour, the awkwardness of new love. It was just all-around greatness that kept me invested in the story. The only problem was controlling people are well, controlling. There wasn’t enough off-page action between Ray and his abusive Stepdad Ray to sell this. There was one incident but the book really read like a story about a troubled youth, now adult in his mid-twenties, suffering from anxiety and self-worth issues because of it and venturing into his first adult relationship. Coupled with the story of a Rockstar who never met anyone worth dating and is also venturing into first love territory. The subplot of abuse wasn’t dug into deep enough for me to zoom my focus into it.
The erotic scenes were fun. Most of the time that is. The conversations they had during them didn’t’ always work. The further into the book it became more and more about talking than doing the do so and the scenes were always told from both perspectives so almost two full chapters every time. It killed the moment and the mood and somehow took away from the steamy connection they should’ve been for the read. It did this while simultaneously taking away from the importance of the conversation. They felt like the type of things that needed that in-depth retrospectives of either guilt or self-doubt that happens after the fact or, which can also happen, brings you out of the moment so the adult stuff doesn’t even happen and the reader gets to walk away with a serious moment of emotional connection with the characters. In all fairness, I stopped reading them as I got further into the book. I love me a good love scene but couldn’t really dig into these ones.
Lastly, the whole Ray being a broke gambler angle lines right up there with not enough stuff about his narcissistic ways. He is written like this awesome famous sound engineer, but Cinder doesn’t even know who he is. Not once is it mentioned that even with a probably really good paycheck and the fact he backed Ellis into a corner and Ellis pays the mortgage and not him so in theory he has even more of his paycheck to keep, that he has no money. Or that he’s a drunk. It just sorta randomly appears at the end of the story to create some sort of magical reason to have the oh so overused I have to break up the couple trope romance novels have. It was a hard sell for me.
Also, his threat was such an empty threat. Cinder and Ellis are in a stupid big public relationship. He just got fired, and Ellis finally has his dream job because Ray was fired. That is a scandal all on its own. After a few months and even a media ship name for the relationship he now has the money to pay for the house if he wants it so bad. And the boyfriend with the publicist team to quickly debunk the threat, and the most obvious, Cinder literally wrote and performed a song for him, live. All his fans wouldn’t jump ship for a drunken Stepdad in a million years. Again, since the Ellis/Ray situation wasn’t dug into it’s hard to really get in line with this threat holding sway over him.
So, after all that, this story still gets 4stars. The relationship was so much fun to read. The laughs were genuine, the characters, Ray aside, were believable and the growth/journey the two of them went on was worth the time it took to finish this story. It had some technical errors, but all of these took up so little space in the book thus not taking away from the overall delight it was to read this. Besides who doesn’t like shy tall, beefy socially awkward stagehands. Personally, we needed more of his naked awesomeness but I guess we can’t have everything we wish for. It’s safe to say, regardless of how this review may read to some, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend this fun romance to anyone, especially considering most people probably wouldn’t care about my issues anyway.