Title: A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love
Author: Arden Powell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 318 Pages
At a Glance: If you are looking for a well-written book that is low-angst, full of the joy of finding your people, a tease of steam and just pure and simple fun, then this book is for you.
Reviewed By: Jovan
Blurb: What he wanted was a music career. What he needed was love.
When Kris Golding leaves his dusty Kansas hometown for a fresh start in New York, he thinks an apartment and a job are waiting for him. But when he finds neither, rather than admit defeat, he takes his chances busking—and meets Rayne Bakshi of international rock band The Chokecherries. Rayne needs a new guitarist, and gives Kris his first break since leaving home.
Rayne wears makeup and glitter and thinks nothing of kissing Kris in front of twenty thousand screaming fans for the attention. Instantly infatuated, Kris begins to question whether he might have a crush on Rayne—could he be bisexual? But since Kris originally claimed to be straight, Rayne’s wary of getting involved offstage.
As their tour gains momentum, Kris’s sexuality becomes the least of his troubles. Between his conservative brother hell-bent on “rescuing” him from his life of debauchery, a peacock that may or may not be the avatar of a cult god, and a publicity stunt that threatens to upend the band, Kris is definitely not in Kansas anymore.
Review: A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love is a cute, fun YA read that manages to pack a lot of potentially dramatic/angst-worthy foibles into a low-angst, low steam story about finding your tribe and falling in love.
Upon arriving in New York City, Kris suddenly finds himself homeless and without a job prospect after his cousin, who had promised him a home and a job opportunity, gets fired and kicked out of his apartment in the space of an afternoon. Although Kris came to NYC with the simple goal of becoming a session guitarist for a recording studio, within a day he finds himself in the midst of the dream that usually brings so many to the big city—to be singled out from the millions, discovered and swept into a life of fame and adventure.
Part of Kris’s desire to leave Kansas and build a new life for himself in NYC was to get a chance to really explore who he is and want he wants. Although he loves his family and his town, he’s never felt free to figure out what he wants his life to be. Now, swept into Rayne’s world and surrounded by glamorous, free-spirited and unapologetically queer people, Kris is suddenly given the ultimate free pass. Kris has few problems embracing all the unexpected avenues being a member of a punk-glam band bring him; from the make-up to the clothes, he goes all in. Interestingly, the only piece of this new adventure Kris is uncomfortable with is the piece that has remained the same—his sexuality.
After an impromptu kiss on stage, Kris is all about making it a regular part of the show and gives Rayne carte blanche to do whatever he wants on stage—which he does wholeheartedly. As the weeks go by, Kris gets the “best” of both worlds by getting to enjoy Rayne’s kisses and touches without having to let go of his straight label. As Kris embraces his new look, his new lifestyle and the new experience of being kissed on stage by a man in front of thousands of people, Kris shies away from the one aspect of his life that hasn’t changed—his attraction to men as well as women. Although Kris never acted on this attraction while in Kansas, in contrast to everything new he has been reveling in without many qualms—I mean, in less than a month the boy is performing half-naked in a corset and tight booty shorts—he cannot seem to let go and embrace that. With the bleached hair and more feminine outfits, he fully embraces the new, more like playing a part and seeing how it fits, but his bisexuality is too real, and it’s just easier to pretend the physical attraction he has for Rayne is more tied to his stage persona than to confront his ingrained fears about this part of himself.
The first 40% of the book is all about Kris’s introduction into the band and his growing attraction to Rayne, which is offset by his fear of coming out and ending the dream he has found himself in. There is a brief POV change to introduce the cult aspect and the rest of the book takes place at the music festival where the wackiness promised by the blurb ensues. When Rayne is approached to be in a fake-relationship for the week of the festival with another artist from their label, Kris encourages him in the hopes that if Rayne is “off-limits”, his feelings will go away. . . because feelings evaporate in the presence of a fake week-long relationship. As expected, however, the prospect of a fake relationship that has the potential to be more has Kris realizing the error of his ways, and promising to tell Rayne the truth . . . which he can only do while high or drunk, so Rayne is naturally skeptical. Now add in Kris’s brother Brad trying to kill his career, a peacock and a cult full of angry, drug-using bikers, and you have all the Burning Man eccentricity you need.
Overall, I liked the book. I enjoyed the slow-burn sensuality Kris and Rayne let loose on stage, and their easy intimacy and cuddling while off it. Kris is adorable and seeing the band and all his new experiences from his eyes works well with the story, but also means that Rayne is mostly just the pretty rock-god Kris is drawn to. The reader is shown that Rayne is a charismatic guy, made for entertaining, and is given a sense that he and the band all seem like low-key, cool people, but not much else. Kris actually spends almost as much time with Angel, the band’s make-up artist who owns a burlesque club, than he does with Rayne and so the interpersonal moments that Kris and Rayne share and the little bit of depth added to Rayne’s character in these moments is on par with the connection Kris makes with Angel as a friend. As the story is more about Kris, this mostly works, but depending on your taste or expectations, once they get to the festival, the rest of the book, with Kris getting in his own way when it comes to having a relationship with Rayne and the turn the story takes when Brad and the cultists get involved, may leave something to be desired. However, if you are looking for a well-written book that is low-angst, full of the joy of finding your people, a tease of steam and just pure and simple fun, then this book is for you.
You can pre-order A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love here:
[zilla_button url=”https://riptidepublishing.com/products/a-summer-soundtrack-for-falling-in-love” style=”blue” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Riptide Publishing [/zilla_button][zilla_button url=”http://books2read.com/summersoundtrack” style=”blue” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Other Online Booksellers [/zilla_button]