Desert Isle Keeper
How to Stay
Christina Mitchell’s Bad Girls of Cherry Lake series opens with a splash in How to Stay, the story of a tough rock-and-roller and a tough photographer whose past romance becomes a present entanglement.
The first time we meet rockstar Adelia Winters – famous under the pseudonym Lia Frost – she’s eagerly attending the burial of her crappy emotionally abusive jerk father while showing off a flair for music-related opinions (Metallica-si; Anti-Nowhere League-non). After justifiably cursing her father’s corpse out a bit, she’s horrified that her ’67 GTO’s transmission refuses to turn over meaning she’s stuck in Cherry Lake, a one-horse town she fled long ago, until she can get it repaired.
This brings Adelia back into contact with Conor Ross, her childhood best friend and one-time lover. She left Conor behind in Cherry Lake when she fled for the big city just after they made love for the first time, shattering his heart and leaving him wondering if he was just that repulsive. The once shy, chubby and sweet Conor is now a toned and much more cautious photographer at Razzle Dazzle Glamour and Costume Photography, a place where he’s met with sexual harassment and where he can’t grow his talents, but still makes decent money. His friends urge him to open his own studio, but he’s been dallying at creating his own business plan while living in a trailer park on the outskirts of town. Conor knows Lia’s back but wants to avoid her after the whole heart breakage deal.
While Lia, in Conor’s opinion, hasn’t changed a wit, Lia is taken aback by Conor’s new, more confident and cynical self. And they’re both powerfully attracted to each other still, in spite of all of their misgivings and wounds.
Lia has nothing more pressing to do. Having punched the head of her label (with just cause) and not regretting it means the tabloids are dogging her footsteps, which makes hanging out in her tiny hometown all the more enticing a concept. But Adelia’s ex and manager, EJ, continues to pressure her to make nice with the record executive who had verbally assaulted her. And her complicated history with Conor might just make things much more difficult than anticipated.
How to Stay combines a small-town romance that generally feels suitable hometownish with some very deep and heartbreaking character portraits. It’s likely that by the time you close this book you’re going to have a lot of feelings for Lia and her struggle toward happiness. You’ll also like the characters, and come to treasure Mitchell’s sharp wit.
Lia may be hard to like for some, as she’s abrasive and opinionated sometimes, but she’s just the sort of heroine I adore – tough, but not too tough to bend. Her music snobbery is generally appealing instead of being an obnoxious trait. Learning about her struggle with her father’s issues and her horrifying childhood and how she came out the other end a better person is both rewarding and heartbreaking.
Conor is gentler soul, softer and more easy to make vulnerable in ways that Lia never quite reaches. I liked him for his fortitude, and the fact that he needs to gather his courage about him to make a move.
They have boatloads of chemistry together, and you absolutely believe that these are two friends have known –and loved – one another forever.
The supporting characters – from the believably slimy EJ to Shannon and her daughter Jo to Cupcake, Conor’s funny, fierce dog – are delightful.
How to Stay is a sweet romance and a poignant character study that will keep the reader enthralled. It’s an excellent, engaging ride worth anyone’s time.
Note: This book contains detailed descriptions of sexual harassment and child neglect.
Buy it at: Amazon or shop at your local independent bookstore
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
|Review Date:||April 18, 2020|
|Book Type:||Contemporary Romance|
|Review Tags:||AoC | dogs | photographer | PoC | rock star|
Hi, Nan De Plume here. I’m posting on this page because the “reply” buttons on other AAR forums have been completely unresponsive to me. I cannot comment on the Ask at all (there is no post comment box.) When I click on the reply buttons, absolutely nothing happens. I have tried this with three browsers on two different computers- same result. Is anybody else having this problem? Also, I gave somebody a happy face on a comment, and it reset the counter to zero instead of showing one positive and one negative emoji. Any thoughts on this? Thanks!
Ugh! Would you believe the reply buttons suddenly work for me on the Ask after I posted this comment? Maybe because posting here signed me in? Anyway, thanks AAR for being patient with me while I’m figuring out this new system.
I’ve been able to see all your posts?
Thanks. That’s good to know. Things seem to be working again now. I think the problem is probably on my end. Internet can be spotty for some reason.
Are the happy and frowny faces working okay for you? I tried to give someone a happy face earlier and it just took away the frowny face instead of showing one happy and one frowny.
I’ll look into that.
How old are the leads now?
They’re roughly in their late 20s/early 30s. It’s been awhile since Lia’s been home.