St. Martin's Press / July 29, 2014 / $14.99 print / $3.99 digital
As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it's booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.
Lena's not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.
Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series has taken the world by storm. While the first two books were a blend of humor, romance and angst, Scott’s Lead takes a more serious tone in this friends-to-lovers story. Focusing on Stage Dive's tortured lead singer, Jimmy, who is battling alcoholism and substance abuse, Scott presents a heroine in the form of the quirky and hilarious, Lena, Jimmy’s sobriety companion.
How do you live 24/7 with someone and not fall in love with them, despite their flaws? Lena answers this question beautifully, she can’t help with way she feels and she doesn’t make any bones about it. Surprisingly, Jimmy is willing to “help” her get over her feelings for him which makes for a hilarious set up in developing the chemistry between the two characters.
What readers will really enjoy is that the book is more of a slow sexy burn culminating in a flame of romance between Jimmy and Lena. Lena is a hilarious heroine, she’s practical, self-depreciating and knows when she deserves more. Despite her practicality, however, she just can’t stay away from Jimmy and wants the best for him, even if the best means her stepping aside from her position. Jimmy on the other hand, is determined to get Lena to stay. Outside of Stage Dive, Lena is his only friend, albeit one with whom he has an employer-employee relationship. It’s nice to see a romance novel where the banter is found both in and outside of the bedroom.
In addition, what makes Lead different from other friends-to-lover romances is that there’s no great change in the two characters other than their feelings for each other. Jimmy is already a year sober and yes has some emotional damage, but Lena knows that she can’t “cure” him. She immediately recognizes she isn’t a professional. Despite everything, including her feelings, Lena wants what’s best for Jimmy and proves to be not only his friend but his best friend. I also enjoyed that Jimmy wasn’t looking for Lena to “fix” him. Often in friends-to-lovers stories, the hero is a playboy needing to find the right girl or maybe he’s got so much emotional damage that he wants to remain friends with the heroine, but that friendship turns into something more. Jimmy has some emotional baggage but it doesn’t ruin or run his entire life. He somehow brusquely gets by with help from Stage Dive and Lena. Also, Jimmy isn’t a manwhore, he’s a rock star who’s had some conquests, but he makes it clear that Lena doesn’t need to be the one to cure him of his slatternly ways. The two have a great relationship in terms of Lena knowing what she wants, Jimmy not wanting to provide it, but at the same time keep Lena in his life. The build-up to a relationship is real because there is a solid friendship to back up the emotional connections that come with a romantic relationship.
For those fans looking for Mal sightings, don’t worry, Scott provides plenty of time showing how even as an employee, Lena fits in perfectly with the quirky Stage Dive family. Add in some wish fulfillment continuing from Lick and Play and fans will be pleased despite the different tone of the novel. New Adult fans will also not be disappointed for where Scott is leading the Stage Dive series finale. While the book revolves around Jimmy and Lena, there are some interesting developments happening in the background with sexy and commitment-phobic bassist, Ben. The only problem? We’ll have to wait till December to see what happens.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Lead by Kylie Scott, available on July 29, 2014, in e-book and on November 25 in paperback:
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.