The good: Jimmy is a great brooding hero and Lena is a kickass heroine.
The not-so-good: More Mal, please.
Why I chose it: Really enjoying getting back into the Stage Dive series.
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin (Pan Macmillan)
Setting: Portland, USA
Rating: 9 out of 10
Around this time of year, I don’t have a lot of time to read so I want stuff that I’m going to love. Fortunately, I’ve gotten back into the Stage Dive series which fits that bill perfectly with its combination of rock stars, drama and sassiness. Lead is the third book of the series, but you could read them in any order depending on your taste – insta-marriage, fake girlfriends or a working relationship. Lead is the story of Jimmy Ferris, lead singer of Stage Dive and his sobriety companion/live in assistant Lena. Jimmy has been the more obviously troubled member of the band, with time in rehab after too many drugs and alcohol. Now that Jimmy’s clean, he needs someone to help him stay that way. Nobody has lasted until the band lays eyes on Lena, who isn’t afraid of dishing out her own honest observations and laying it on the line.
Where Jimmy goes, Lena now goes. Which means they see each other nearly 24/7 and Lena can’t help but develop a little crush on the singer, particularly after seeing him at his most vulnerable. She knows she will have to leave Jimmy’s employ but Jimmy’s not responsive. Instead, he has a four step plan to destroy Lena’s crush and make her stay. But will it work when two headstrong individuals are determined to get the best for each other?
As this is a romance, you know where this is going. It’s a mighty fun ride following Jimmy and Lena through ice cream sessions, chaperoned dates, time in the studio and down time. Their verbal sparring is witty and sexy – the type not seen since Elizabeth and Darcy. (Actually, just pretend that Darcy is a modern rock star and Elizabeth his assistant and you’ll totally get this book). I loved how Lena was brutally honest with Jimmy, yet didn’t push him over the edge. It brought out some pretty blunt observations from Jimmy, sure, but Lena taught him how to mind his manners and learn to care more. There’s also a more serious side to the book as Lena is drawn into Jimmy’s childhood and the things he’s been hiding from brother (and band mate) Dave for a very long time. It helps to explain why Jimmy has been the way he is over the past two books. Lena has her own family issues which she can’t get over and keeps to herself – it’s when Jimmy takes control in the bluntest (but well meaning) way that things start to progress between the pair.
There’s also the return of my personal favourite band member, drummer Mal. While the story isn’t loaded full of his witticisms (probably because Jimmy would not be impressed with sharing the limelight), there is enough to keep a Mal fan happy with his comments. In fact, it’s really Mal that brought Jimmy and Lena together… (I’m not biased at all). Lead is a bit more serious in tone than Play but Mal helps to lighten the atmosphere and Lena’s observations keep things fun. Jimmy is also unpredictable enough to keep the reader (and Lena wondering). It’s grown up sassy with razor sharp dialogue. I’m looking forward to reading about Ben, who has been a quiet enigma throughout the series very soon.