St. Martin's Griffin / March 25, 2014 / $14.99 print / $3.99 digital
Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl.
Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?
The second book in the Stage Dive series from Kylie Scott features my favorite hero of the year so far, Malcolm aka Mal, the playful and flirty drummer of Stage Dive. Anne, the heroine of Play, is an acquaintance of Evelyn, the heroine of the first book in the Stage Dive series, Lick. Anne is down on her luck as far as roommates and money are concerned, so when she meets Mal she becomes caught up in a whirlwind relationship that will change her life.
The great thing about Scott’s series is that while she does have her characters face problems, angst isn’t the driving force of this book. Instead, the focus is on the fun interactions between Mal and Anne. Readers looking for sexual tension and a deep emotional connection will find that in spades, but the great thing about Mal’s character is that he’s not a typical New Adult rock star hero who is misunderstood by the world or drowning himself in substance abuse. In fact, I would go so far as to say that while Anne’s age, 23, hits the point of a New Adult heroine, Mal at 27 is not a New Adult hero. This book lacks the adolescent drama seen in a typical New Adult book.
Another intriguing element is how Scott, an Australian author, clearly captures the American West Coast setting. Every location, from the apartment complex in which the protagonists meet to the bookshop where Anne works and the practice studio downtown has a very West Coast vibe and the art scene that makes Portland, Oregon famous. Although there is a blatant sexual attraction between Mal and Anne, the romance unfolds in more of a friends-to-lovers plot. Anne is posing as Mal’s fake girlfriend, but the two don’t fall into instantaneous lust. Instead, there is a lot of witty banter and natural flirtation that goes on before the two hit the sheets.
Mal Ericson does have his problems and readers, like Anne, will find there is more to the drummer than meets the eye. Mal’s levity is hiding some pain, Anne can help him deal with the pain, but she cannot necessarily take away the hurt. The sex scenes between the two are emotional and do drive home the sense of a deeper connection amongst the couple despite the brief time in which their courtship occurs. Moreover, Mal has a delightful preference for how a lady appears down there.
With Play, Scott hits a homerun, following in Lick's style. There is a “meet cute” similar to the first book where Anne, like Evelyn, finds herself out of her element amidst the craziness that accompanies the Stage Dive boys. Mal is a refreshing rock star hero without a ton of baggage and Anne is a sensible heroine who has a slightly crazy hero worship for Mal, but also helps readers believe in the wish fulfillment that is regular girls falling in love with rock gods.
I expect the next book in the series, Lead, to take a slightly more angst and perhaps darker tone as the protagonist is Jimmy, David’s brother who was dealing with substance abuse issues in the first book. The heroine of Lead, Lena, will definitely have a devil to deal with given the nature of the pair’s relationship as seen in Play. But with two strong installments under her belt, readers can rest assured that their money will be well spent on tales of heartache, love and laughs in the Stage Dive series.
Learn more or order a copy of Play by Kylie Scott, out now:
Sahara Hoshi reviews for Wicked Lil Pixie and is a lifelong reader of romance. Favorite genres include new adult, paranormal romance, contemporary romance and erotica.