Monday, August 31, 2015

Running with Scissors by L.A. Witt

Title: Running with Scissors
Author: L.A. Witt
My Rating: A+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Main Characters: AJ and Jude
Release Date: August 2015
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Eighteen months ago, drummer Jude Colburn made the biggest mistake of his life when he walked away from his band just as they were on the brink of success. Now, he’s got a second chance. The band’s bassist just quit, and Jude plays bass almost as well as he plays drums. The other band members aren’t thrilled, but they are desperate. 

Running with Scissors needs him, but there’s one condition: no hooking up with bandmates. That’s what ruined things eighteen months ago, after all. Jude’s on board, but no one warned him about the drummer who replaced him. A.J. Palmer is shy and unassuming . . . until he hits the stage. He gets Jude’s attention from the first beat, and suddenly that “no hookups” rule isn’t so easy to follow. 

Keeping secrets on a tour bus isn’t easy either, and it’s only a matter of time before the band catches on. When everything hits the fan, Jude has to choose: a second chance at the career he’s always regretted leaving, or a shot at the man of his dreams?

My Review:
I don't know what I expected going into this book, but it was so much more and better than I expected. 

Running with Scissors was a band that was made up of childhood friends. Within that group were Conner and Jude. Once they hit high school, their friendship morphed into more, but Conner isn't an easy guy. He's very passionate, very artistic, and he's not the easiest guy to live with. As a result, their romance was on and off constantly and very explosive. Until Jude had enough and self-destructed what they had left by cheating. He knew there was no coming back from that and left...left Conner, left the band, left his friends. He lost it all and has spent the last 18 months regretting that.

AJ took his place in the band, but he was the one outsider within this tight-knit group of friends. He's never really been accepted by them. They tend to not see or consider in group discussions and he doesn't force it, fearing if he rocks the boat, they'll simply kick him out. So he sits at the side trying to blend in with the environment most of the time.

When Conner decides to get romantically involved with another band member, it puts the band in a lurch. They are in the middle of a concert tour and their bassist just left. They have to find a replacement now. Jude is a musical savant..he can play any instrument, and can pick up music after hearing it only once or twice. He knows Running with Scissors style and music so their manager comes to him hoping that he can save the band. He's been miserable so he jumps at the chance. 

But just like AJ, Jude is an outcast. He's lost the band's trust when he left and screwed them. The guys are also both drummers. They connect over both these issues and then what started out as just a physical attraction morphs into so much more. 

This story is fabulous. It's a slow build, but so wonderfully done. These two cannot get involved. Both of them are in precarious positions with the band already. To do something together would ruin everything and get at least one of them kicked out. The chemistry and suspense between them is fantastic and made for a wonderfully sexy read. 

But more than that, this is a book about friendship and what responsibilities friends have to one another. There are a lot of personal failures in this book, which is true to life in real friendships and relationships, too. Every single person in this book has been hurt by at least one other person in the story. The band is having to live in very close quarters under less than ideal circumstances most the year. That makes things tough. Both AJ and Jude are barely hanging on to their sanity in it all, but I felt for Conner and the band, too. No one person is at fault with what has happened in this group.

While I didn't agree with a lot of the band's response to certain things, this book was a great study in how a group dynamic can shift and evolve if everyone can learn to respect...something they didn't have at the beginning of the book. I truly loved the book and would love to see future stories for Conner (definitely) and even Richie would be interesting just because his character is asexual in this book and it could be interesting to see how he dealt with it when he meets someone that challenges that aspect of him...someone that piques him sexually.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review, but immediately after finishing the book, I got online and pre-ordered a print copy of the book for my keeper shelf.

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