Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: Jinxed (The Rock #2) by Sandrine Gasq-Dion

jinxedTitle ~ Jinxed

Author ~ Sandrine Gasq-Dion

Publisher ~ Skull Blaster Publishing

Published ~ 29 October 2015

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance





This book is the second in the series and is preceded by FRET. It can be read as a standalone. It contains homosexual relations and harsh language. A sneak peek to book 3 follows the ending.
Jinx Jett is a rock superstar. As such, the hunky Skull Blasters drummer thoroughly enjoys the many perks of willing groupies, earning him a reputation as the band slut. Making it big and scoring hot women is something Jinx never expected. There's a little voice in the back of his mind constantly reminding him of how he used to be -- shy, overweight and acne prone. One night in a gay bar turns life upside down when Jinx runs into Jayden Dempsey, a kid he's been fantasizing about since giving him his autograph at a mall. Long-held insecurities keep Jinx from fully committing to anyone, and he may lose Jayden if he can't put his past behind him.
Jayden Dempsey always wanted out of his life in small-town Alabama. When his parents kicked him out after he told them he was gay, Jayden decided the time was right to move on. He crosses the country to try out for 'Singers!', a show that propels unknowns to stardom. In a twist, producers choose him and three others as winners and form a boy band called London Boys.This season, the show brings Jayden and the guys back for the finale. Surprise! The contest's heavy metal finalist will be singing with Skull Blasters.
Jinx and Jayden's initial meeting doesn't go so well, and Jayden's stunned when the guy he's crushed on for years turns out to be a total jerk. It doesn't stop him from falling into Jinx's arms every time they're alone, but Jayden didn't sign on for one nighters. He wants Jinx Jett, baggage and all.
Can a former teen outcast put rejection behind him and embrace the acceptance standing right in front of him? How much will one boy bander put up with from his rock idol before enough is enough? Can they make it work? Or are they jinxed in love?


Alan’s Review

Another Great Installment in a Fun Rock-Band Series

I must confess to my bias. I’m a huge rock-band gay romance fan. Spoiled by Cecilia Tan, Rhys Ford, Ann Lister and other iconic authors of gay rock-and-roll stories, I’m constantly on the lookout for talented writers and their sexy rock stars. Ms. Gasq-Dion joined the ranks of the rock divas on my must-read list with the first book in this rock series, “Fret”.

Decades ago, when I first started reading gay fiction, there were only a handful of publicly-available gay-themed books (if you don’t count the ones in which the gay characters had to die at the end of the book) and they were all considered “serious literature”. That meant: often boring, usually difficult to plow through, without humor, irony, self-referential whimsy or high camp. Well, just today, I was looking for a book in the Gay/Lesbian category on my Kindle and happened to note that there are now more than 96,500 novels, novellas and short stories in it. Things sure do change.

With that huge supply of diverse gay literature available, it makes it much harder to compare one book to another or to assign appropriate ratings. Do we rate “important” books about “big ideas” much higher than silly, fun books? Do we reward authors writing “classics” higher than those writing humor? It seems to me that, perhaps, we have to judge each book against its own intention. If it’s a “serious book”, is it a well-written, convincing, evocative tale? If it’s a “humorous book”, does it leave me with a smile on my face, a laugh in my heart, and a delicious aftertaste of irony? And if it’s “pure escapism” (like most rock-band romance), does it present the reader with sexy, authentic and empathetic characters, interesting settings and situations and make my life just a little bit better, even for a couple of hours, for having read it?

“Jinxed” is definitely in the last category. Like all good rock-band romance, its characters are larger than life onstage, all too human in real life. Rock-band novels can inform the reader, give him or her a taste of the times, inspire with the passion and musicianship of the artists who are its main characters, and present the joys and challenges of living life large, rich, and in-demand. “Jinxed” accomplishes all of that and more, including a bit of travelogue with vivid descriptions of one the most beautiful parts of the U. S. – Flagstaff, Arizona, the red-rock country of Sedona and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Its stars are both musicians who “meet cute” at a shopping mall. The book opens with Jinx, the adorable young drummer of the hugely successful rock band, Skull Blasters, seated in a doctor’s office, wiggling around to avoid scratching his crotch publicly, desperate to get at the crabs he caught somewhere in his recent travels. I mean, he is a rock star, and it’s not at all surprising that the combination of strange hotel rooms, spotty laundry service and strangers in his bed might lead to embarrassing medical issues from time to time. It’s particularly embarrassing because he’s back home in Arizona, the band just off tour, and the doctor he’s waiting for is the family doc who got him through his childhood, and now treats his more shameful “adult” disorders. Mortified, but determined to “get things taken care of”, he straightens his spine, drops his pants and asks for help. Fortunately, it’s a problem that is easily solved, and it could have been so much worse.

Later, it does get worse – worse for a young man who is a sucker for a gorgeous man with a hot butt, particularly one who hates boy bands with a passion.

Accosted at the mall by a squeaky, but incredibly hot, fanboy, he graciously gives him an autograph and even poses for a photo snapped by his friend. What he doesn’t know is that the boy, who claims he has revered him forever, is the finalist in one of those singing-competition reality shows, which he wins. As part of his victory, he gets hooked up with a new, made-for-TV, manufactured boy band.

The two don’t meet again until a year later, when Skull Blasters is a guest star on that year’s finals, and so is the gorgeous Jayden, whose music has been climbing the charts and whose band is becoming a major industry success story.

The meeting between the boys was not exactly noteworthy. When Jinx (born Josiah) realizes his hot dream-boy is actually one of those talentless boy-band hacks, he opens his mouth (he is totally lacking in filters) and tells him exactly what he thinks of no-talent posers like him.

It’s amazing how Jinx continues to offend Jayden, despite the fact that they keep ending up in bed. But Jinx just can’t help himself. That is, until he hears Jayden play the drums, sing and dance. He is so incredibly talented, that Jinx finally has to admit how good he is, and since he’s halfway to being in love already, well you can guess what inevitably happens.

“Jinxed” is a gay romance novel, and you can’t have one of those without having a reason for suitable angst, which is provided for Jinx by his unfortunate adolescence, the chubby body, greasy hair and pimples that he’s grown out of – it’s one of those ugly-duckling/beautiful swan things. He still can’t see himself as the hot rock-star he’s become, or the beautiful young man he is, offstage, which makes him relentlessly suspicious of what people see in him – the glitz of his professional image rather than the man inside.

Jayden is just the guy to deal with Josiah’s issues:

“That’s the Jinx I want. The one who collected rocks with his grandfather, the one who loves mac and cheese, the one who writes poetry and spends every single Mother’s Day with his mom. That’s the one! The guy with the greasy hair and acne who was a bit overweight was the guy I wanted! Not the pompous a**hole in front of me now.”

That’s telling him! Jayden can give as good as he gets. Eventually, Jinx believes him. In a tender, beautiful demonstration of love and trust, Jinx takes Jayden on a tour of the Arizona spots where he and his grandfather spent time hanging out, collecting rocks together, before he passed away. Jinx shares his family and memories with Jayden just as he shares his heart. Ms. Gasq-Dion does an outstanding job of painting vivid images of these beautiful locations. I’ve spent time at most of them, photographing the stunning natural beauty, and was moved by the author’s exquisite descriptions to look up some of the locations that I was not quite so familiar with. See, there’re even things to learn in fun, frothy rock-band romances!

“Jinxed” is very well written. It’s obvious, from the very beginning, that Jinx is something less than a good communicator, which is why he shows his love in many acts of kindness and caring, instead of saying “I love you”. I readily admit to being honestly moved by the lovely exchange of gifts between the two boys, heartfelt, homemade gifts that speak more eloquently than words. The gifts were subtle, moving symbols of things that didn’t need to be said, and couldn’t be said better than Ms. Gasq-Dion did with her simple and honest descriptions of humble, but meaningful objects and acts.

Oh, by the way, look for the sly homage to Ann Lister’s “Rock Gods” series toward the end of “Jinxed” when Jayden meets Dagger Drummond and Ryan, long-time idols of his, in a Flagstaff bar!

I loved this book. I loved the characters, the locations, and if I’m being honest, the rich, rock-star life and the passion of the creative artist. One of the best things about rock-band books is that they provide ample opportunity for follow-ups, books focused on each of the artists, their managers, their families, friends and lovers.

I can’t wait for the next one.


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