In brief: The first book in the Dive Bar series sees Lydia escape a doomed wedding only for down on his luck guitarist Vaughan to find her in his bathtub. Both need cheering up – this is definitely not something permanent…right?
The good: I liked Vaughan in the Stage Dive series, so it’s nice to see him star in his own stories.
The not-so-good: Lydia and Vaughan, make your minds up already!
Why I chose it: Really liked the Stage Dive series and needed a Kylie Scott fix.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Rating: 8 out of 10
Last year I devoured the Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott. This year will be the year of the Dive Bar series, which is loosely connected to the Stage Dive series through a minor character and its main setting. No matter if you haven’t read them though, as Dirty stands up on its own easily.
Like Kylie Scott’s earlier books, the story is told in the first person by the heroine. For Dirty, that’s Lydia. She’s about to get married when someone sends her a video of her fiancé and best man getting it on. So Lydia bolts straight over the back fence and breaks into her unknown neighbour’s house. That neighbour is Vaughan, guitarist in a recently-split band who has returned home to contemplate his fate. Naked, he finds Lydia in her wedding dress, in the bathtub. It’s an awkwardly hilarious scene made easier by the fact that both are into each other. Vaughan offers to help Lydia out to get back on her feet and out of town while he tries to sell the family home and then do the same thing. But sparks fly and the pair decide a little extra enjoyment wouldn’t go astray as the lives of Vaughan’s sister and her employees at Dive Bar make everything more complex.
Being a new series, there’s quite a bit of world building here. There are a range of new characters to introduce, from Vaughan’s family to the colleagues at Dive Bar who will be looking for a happy ever after in future stories. It’s worth being patient here because in my experience, the Stage Dive series hit its stride running in book 2. So naturally I’m looking forward to the second book, Twist! It’s going to take me some time to warm to the characters and get thoroughly invested in their lives. I think it was really clever to have Vaughan as the hero in this book, as he was an intriguing character in Deep. We learn about his past and a bit more about what makes him tick. He’s not the sweet but sleazy guy that he was while in the band though. This guy is broken and confused. You could say the same of heroine Lydia. She’s been searching for a family after her own didn’t really fit the criteria. She latches on to the first person to show her affection, which ends in a spectacularly bad way. There’s talk of lawyers, police and defamation cases. Lydia paints herself as shy and pretty straight laced, but she finds a spine pretty darn quickly to be a sassy character. She and Vaughan also have an insta-attraction that develops into friends with benefits. For me, it all happened a little too quickly (within days of the not-wedding). I found it a bit hard to believe that Lydia was so reserved when it came to relationships and so ready to forget her ex so quickly. If it had happened just a little slower, I would have been completely cool with it. And maybe a little time between the angsty breakup/makeup bits…
I did like how Lydia managed to stand on her own two feet beyond Vaughan. Finding a job at Dive Bar and pushing herself toward to offer her expertise was a great example of girl power. The female friendships she developed were also strong in such a short time frame. I’m looking forward to more in the series now that we’ve established the world of Dive Bar.