Desert Isle Keeper
Rock Wedding is the fourth and final instalment of Ms. Singh’s popular Rock Kiss series, which tells the stories of Schoolboy Choir, one of the world’s foremost rock bands. Abe, the keyboard player, knows he found lightning in a bottle when he married Sarah, and was a complete idiot for pushing her away and ruining their marriage. He’s a different man now and is determined to win his wife back. Sarah is wary of this new Abe; the old one hurt her so much she can still barely think about it. Rock Wedding is a terrific second-chance romance story, full of tender vulnerability, steamy reunions, and a well-earned happily ever after.
The story opens the night everything fell apart. Told from Sarah’s PoV, we see Abe verbally abuse her and force her from their home, a sort of last-straw event, as Sarah’s inner monologue lets us know he’s not been a gem of a husband up to this point. Ms. Singh makes it clear we are to have no sympathy for him and sets the readers up as definitively pro-Sarah immediately. As Sarah literally runs away, the narrative follows her. We go with her to the hotel where she finds refuge, the shopping-trips she makes over the subsequent days, and see how she re-builds her life without Abe, step-by-step. She’s clearly a resourceful woman, and Ms. Singh drops careful hints about why that is and what Sarah’s life was before Abe.
The first part of this book is told without Abe’s PoV at all, and in fact, it’s a full two years after the events of that night before we get inside his head. In the interim, which is skipped over in the book, Sarah has started her own business (which is thriving) and Abe has gotten clean from both drugs and alcohol. Now that he’s clear minded, he’s realized that Sarah was the best thing that ever happened to him and is determined to earn back her trust.
Which he does, slowly, sexily, and with the help of his family, both biological and musical. The couple’s reunion is physical at first, but as Sarah learns she can trust this new Abe, this sober Abe, she begins to trust him with her heart as well.
There are painful things in this book. There are stories of abandonment, stories of bullying, stories of addiction, and stories of pain. Miscarriages and stillbirths, foster families gone awry, and reminders at every turn that our world is one where people live in cycles of trauma. But within a breath of that pain, there are sincere moments of joy. Moments where people prove to be loving and healing. The balance is struck perfectly.
Our characters are a diverse bunch, racially and culturally, and that diversity is never presented as tokenism. I was delighted by the small comments that proved to me that Ms. Singh has allowed each of these characters to develop as real people, like the throw-away line that one of the women wore a sari for her grandmother, or the way that Sarah treats her physicality. She is a tall, plus-sized woman of color and Singh does not shy away from discussing that.
For fans of the series, this is a must-read. We spend a lot of this book at weddings and parties for other characters, and it feels like the appropriate culmination for this group of people. As a newcomer to this series, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the new characters or annoyed we were spending so much time with them. Instead it felt like it grounded the second-chance aspect even more. These people know Abe and Sarah and they are in this with them in profound ways and so the cacophony of voices around them feels right.
This is not to say this book is perfect. I have some quibbles with it, and I can guess some of the things other readers may find problematic. However, one of the biggest factors in my personal grading system is whether the book has just a touch of magic. I want a romance novel to weave a spell of comfort, escape, and hope over my soul. When one does, I tend to forgive those quibbles and breathe a deep sigh of joy once I turn the last page. This is one of those books.
If you’re a sucker for second-chance romances, Rock Wedding is simply a must.