Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Strike Up the Band
SERIES: Wilde Love #3
AUTHOR: Sam Burns
LENGTH: 210 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 27, 2017
Jake McKenna doesn’t want to be here. He doesn’t want to be on tour, he doesn’t want to be playing guitar, and he definitely doesn’t want anything to do with Brian Mulholland. He’s biding his time until the tour is over so that he can walk away from his music career for good.
Brian didn’t ask to be here. Okay, maybe he did. Fine, you know what? He wanted this. He may not like the circumstances that have landed him in his dream job, but he’s not going to let anyone ruin it for him, even if it’s the insanely hot guitarist he’s had a crush on since the first time he saw the band play. He will win over Jake McKenna if it’s the last thing he ever does.
To start off, I was already happy to review this book to begin with–I’ve reviewed both of the previous stories and have really liked them–but when we got the request from the author stating that there would be no sex scenes in it, I got really excited. I’m always thrilled when I get the chance to review books with trans or asexual characters, and with the author hinting strongly at the second, I was all ready to jump in.
The beginning of this book was a bit of a shocker, though. Man…I was totally not expecting that. The blurb doesn’t give it away, so I don’t wanna spoil the surprise, but let’s just say it was one hell of a way to start off a story.
This story revolves around Fred–the band featured in the previous books–and starts off with one hell of a game changer for the band as a whole as well as the individual musicians. And after I got over my shock–and a little bit of awe at the sheer ballsiness of such a move–I found myself really digging it. Due to events after the spoiler the band needs to pick up a new member. Brian Mulholland is lucky enough to have just split with his old (boy) band, and lands the gig. The band–or at least certain members named Jake McKenna–are not thrilled at the prospect. But if Fred is gonna live past the next few months–and avoid a massive lawsuit by the Evil Music Label–Jake is going to have to live with the situation whether he likes it or not.
Taking place over the course of their first (and maybe last) tour, the members of Fred try to come to grips with their new normal. For Jake and Brian, though, the addition of reluctant attraction might just be the thing that dooms them before they even begin.
It would be fair to say that I have enjoyed this series quite a bit so far. Unlike the first two stories, though, this one takes a step out of comfortable Chicago and settles in nicely as a quirky and fun book about a struggling band on the rise. I think it is this half-step from the previous stories that does this book a lot of favors. As well as taking some pretty big chances with that first chapter. It certainly wasn’t something I expected, and I like this story all the more for that. The repercussions of this chapter are very well written, and how it played into the overall story really worked for me. I can easily see where this could have wrecked the whole story before it ever got a chance to get off the ground, but I think it was written with enough care to avoid that. And it ended up being one of the reasons that this is my favorite book of the series so far.
The other being, of course, my love of well-written characters. And both Jake and Brian fit this description perfectly. I really love how both of them were written. Brian just makes me want to cuddle him to death, and even when Jake was being an ass, I got his reasoning for it. And his various emotional states made a lot of sense in the context of this story. They were also well written in the context of their sexualities. And the conversations about bisexuality and asexuality didn’t bore to me tears or make me want to tear my hair out, so bonus points!
Despite the beginnings of this story, this is actually a very lighthearted book over all. There are not major complications or big misunderstands. I expected something to go wrong at the last minute, or for Brian’s mom to pop up like an evil jack-in-the-box, but it never really happens. Not sure if that is a bad thing either. There wasn’t enough oomph in the back half to really push this into OMG Awesome, 5-stars territory, but I still think it is one hell of a book and something I really ended up loving.
So far I have to say I’m really impressed with this series. And since they seem to be getting better as they go along, I can’t wait to see what book four is like. This is an absolute recommendation from me.