Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M “rock” romance from Lilah Suzanne. BROKEN RECORDS features a cross-over country star falling for a stylist. And, it’s so yum.
Catch my review, the excerpt and get in on the $25 gift card and ebook giveaway!
About the book:
Los Angeles-based stylist Nico Takahashi loves his job—or at least, he used to. Feeling fed up and exhausted from the cutthroat, gossip-fueled business of Hollywood, Nico daydreams about packing it all in and leaving for good.
So when Grady Dawson—sexy country music star and rumored playboy—asks Nico to style him, Nico is reluctant. But after styling a career-changing photo-shoot, Nico follows Grady to Nashville where he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Grady’s charms. Can Nico make peace with show business and all its trappings, or will Grady’s public persona get in the way of their private attraction to each other?
How about a little taste?
Grady presses his lips flat, looks up at the ceiling again to gather himself, sniffs and nods, then tugs Nico’s foot closer by his ankle. “Do you think… If we’d met at a bar. Or through a friend of a friend. Or the gym.” Grady’s thumb strokes the tender skin of Nico’s calf beneath the hem of his pants. “If we had just been two regular guys? We really could have been something.”
There’s a question in his voice, a hesitancy that maybe Nico would have rejected him eventually anyway. Nico scoots across the cramped bunk, crowds against Grady, shoulder to shoulder. “Well, we never would have met at the gym because I would have taken one look at you and gone home to mourn the body I’ll never have by consuming gallons of ice cream.”
Grady bumps his shoulder. “Shut up, you’re gorgeous.” He tips his head against the wall and grins. “If I’d first seen you at a bar I probably would have humiliated myself by trying to win you over with bad karaoke and shameless flirting.”
Nico’s eyebrows raise. “You mean to tell me you’ve been holding back on me? You have a level of flirting that’s even more shameless?”
“Oh yeah. You ain’t seen nothin’, sweetheart.”
“That is truly terrifying.”
Grady laughs, bright and uninhibited. Nico is so relieved to hear it, a moment of light in the darkness. Grady’s hand rests on Nico’s knee, Nico watches his own hand brush his fingers there, but he doesn’t linger.
“We aren’t, though. Just two random guys.”
Grady’s fingers flex, curving over his kneecap. “No.”
Nico exhales harshly. “I have never wanted to be a groupie so badly.”
Grady shoves at his leg. “Come on, you didn’t really think that I would do that to you—”
“In my weaker, more insecure moments?” Nico scrunches his face, embarrassed. “Yeah, I did.”
“You think that little of me, huh?” He says it with a teasing grin, but Nico’s heart sinks.
“No, Grady. I think you’re…” A million adjectives flash through his head: beautiful, amazing, stunning, compassionate, kind, generous. A supernova. He settles on, “Really special.”
Grady gives a skeptical lift of his eyebrows. “Uh oh. I’m really special, huh?”
“I’m so, so into you and it’s…” He cringes at the words but it’s true, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
“Oh lord.” Grady laments with a laugh. “Not that, please.”
“I’m the guy on the sidelines. I’m the one who makes everyone else shine. I don’t belong there, in the spotlight. I like that at the end of the day I can go home and just walk away from the cameras and the red carpets and the scrutiny. And you—you’re a star. And you can have anyone.”
Grady turns, the cramped space of the bunk making his limbs bump and nudge and curl around Nico’s body. During Grady’s shows, in the moment just before he starts singing the opening line of “Broken Records,” there’s this pause, this moment suspended in the air when the audience is silent and waiting and doesn’t even dare to inhale because in that moment, Grady’s soul is laid bare. He looks at Nico just like that and Nico can’t breathe around it.
“I don’t want anyone,” he says, voice low and serious. “I want you. How do you not get that?”
Nico Takahashi has seen it all, and done little of it. He’s a behind-the-scenes guy, styling B-list clients who mostly drive him cuckoo. With his partner Gwen, he works crazypants hours and has built a good reputation. Good enough to draw in Grady Dawson–insanely gorgeous country music sensation, and noted flagrant bisexual. Grady is delicious, and Nico is a veritable starving man. When Grady pours on all his southern charm, poor Nico’s a goner.
Yeah, it’s tough falling for a guy who is hounded by fans and lives in the limelight that Nico abhors. He’s fixed up with placid, nice guys all the time, and experienced none of the passion that one of Grady’s smiles inspires. They are open and honest with each other, and go into a physical relationship with lust-filled eyes, yet Nico’s feet get frozen the second he gets identified in the tabloids and fan forums. Nico would normally walk away…if only Grady wasn’t such a great guy. Grady’s had it rough, and Nico doesn’t want to be yet another somebody who disappoints him. Nico can’t function in the spotlight. He can’t, and Grady soon learns he doesn’t want to go this long road alone.
I really liked this one. Nico’s a bit prissy, admittedly, and he’s bowled over by Grady’s genuine personality. He begins to crave Grady’s approval and their incendiary passion, but really struggles with the celebrity aspects of being the lover of a star. Nico doesn’t want their life to be tabloid fodder, and there’s the issue of Grady being bisexual–and continually paired with an industry darling, Clementine. Some of their fans are pretty vociferous regarding the desires of a match, there.
Nico tells this story, and I think he tells it honestly. He’s never had a relationship and he’s as easily overwhelmed by Grady’s generosity as by his celebrity. They are well-matched in so many personality aspects; It’s a bit Notting Hill, in that respect. Two people with different backgrounds who strike a match together. I liked the culture clash–Nico’s American, of Japanese descent–and Grady’s a country boy, raised in a trailer in the shadow of Nashville. While he and Grady are different people, with different experiences, Nico doesn’t want to be “an exotic;” he’s as American as any other native, and he makes that clear when they go out for sushi. Grady’s all “How do you eat this?” and Nico tells him “Pick it up and stick it in your face hole.” I had to laugh.
There is a lot of pondering on Nico’s part. How to life the half-life of being a celebrity partner. How to exist after feeling the depth of Grady’s affection, and knowing that he was falling hard for the soulful singer. There are reunions and separations and a well-resolved plan to bring these two together. It’s a good story with interesting characters and excellent sexytimes. I liked Nico, a lot, and I wanted Grady to leap off the page into my waiting hands. Yep. I got smitten. I hear there’s a sequel planned, and I’ll definitely follow up with another book.
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About the Author:
Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she has also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the fan fiction community. She is also the author of Interlude Press books Spice and Pivot and Slip. Broken Records is Book One in Lilah’s Spotlight Series.