Author ~ Remmy Duchene
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 17th February 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
When Jackson Rawlings comes out of the closet, he loses everything: from his record label to the self-confidence he needs to perform on stage. Jackson feels as if the world is out to get him. Broken and afraid, he escapes to Hallesford and the ranch he calls home. All he wants is to live out the rest of his life peacefully and out of the spotlight.
But the fates just love interfering in his life.
Marques Lopez is the owner of Phoenix Records, and not only does he hate what happened to Jackson, he feels Jackson Rawlings has plenty more to contribute to the music industry. He ventures into small-town USA to find the singer and when he does, Jackson is a mere fragment of the man he used to be. To make matters worse, Marques’s body and heart step in to present him with a choice between business and pleasure—unless he could have his cake and eat it too…
“Country Soul” is a simple romance about a Country star. Not just any star, Jackson Rawlings, one of the biggest draws in Country, a singer/songwriter so popular that his chart listings didn’t drop a single slot when he came out as gay a year ago. Jackson’s tired. It seems that he has been on tour forever, and the concert that opens the book looks like it’s his last. His record label, his management, despite still selling big numbers, informed him that he was being dropped because of the “gay thing”. Typical Southern bigots, willing to sacrifice even the enormous profits they continue to make from Jackson and his music, they’re tossing him to the wolves, rather than growing up and joining the 21st Century.
That’s the last straw for Jackson. He’s got plenty of money (not to mention continued royalties for years to come), but the energy that drives him, the love and power of the music, and the audience, whose feedback is like mother’s milk to him, will now be denied him. And his lousy label would make sure he damned well couldn’t perform for any other label or management by tying him up in court for the next decade.
That’s it. It’s over for Jackson. All he wants to do now is go home, hide out and drink himself under the table for a year or two.
Fortunately, the young CEO of Pheonix records, Marques Lopez, is not about to let that happen. Another successful gay man, Marques is not going to let the industry grind up one of its biggest talents and throw Jackson into the dustbin of Country Music history without a fight. And he’s just the man to mount that battle. A record company CEO with a talent for writing and producing, he’s determined to take Jackson to another level, to the heights his towering talent deserves. But first, he has to get around Jackson and convince him that life is worth living, music is worth making, and loving Marques would be a great idea.
“Country Soul” is about restoring the soul of a great artist. In many ways, it’s the deepest kind of gay romance. It’s not all about sex. It’s not all about looks, or money or talent. It’s about reclaiming a pure and innocent soul, saving the music when you save the man. It’s about spitting in the eye of one more corporatocracy too myopic to see beyond their outmoded, outdated, self-destructive bigotry and homophobia.
And more important, it’s about one man and his commitment to the talent and beauty of another, a commitment that leads him to more than a new client, a new artist for his label – to a partner of the heart, to the love he’d always dreamed of, but never quite dared to hope for.
Marques has passion and energy enough for both of them, his hope is infectious, his determination to bring Jackson back from the brink brooks no failure. And together, they are a force to be reckoned with, a force that even bigotry and irrational hate cannot stop.
Mr. Duchene is a fine writer. His characters are instantly believable, empathetic and beautifully drawn. The pain of “losing the music” was evocative and moving, almost as much as the burgeoning love between the two men. My only complaint is that this book is a novella that deserves to be fleshed out into a full-fledged novel, which would have allowed for a bit more complexity, a few more twists and turns, a richer palette of colors, locations and experiences.
But still, “Country Soul” is a book of almost delicate sensibility, the probing of a discouraged man’s soul and the hope that reignites it when the right man, a man who believes in him and his music, comes to the rescue.