Desert Isle Keeper
In this third entry in the author’s Rock Kiss series, Ms. Singh returns to the rock band Schoolboy Choir, featuring Noah St. John, a seriously troubled member of the band, and actress Kit Devigny. I recently gave a DIK to the second book in the series, Rock Hard. It’s a credit to Ms. Singh that I love this as well, since it has a completely different feel. This is an emotional, often draining read, featuring a truly dark hero who behaves despicably. While out of my normal comfort zone, I not only enjoyed, I’ve reread it.
The book opens on a heartbreaking sequence. Kit is ecstatic having just won a part in a movie. Better yet, she’s on her way to see Noah, her best friend, and she hopes soon to be her lover. But when she enters his hotel suite she finds him having sex with another woman. And when Noah looks up she knows from his expression that this was a deliberate set-up. In Kit’s mind, it’s a cruel, heart wrenching way to let her know he didn’t reciprocate her feelings.
Fast forward a couple years and Kit gets an incoherent early morning call from Noah. Kit’s scared enough by the conversation to go to him and finds Noah in a seedy motel room, used condoms on the floor. He’s clearly drunk with a syringe with an unknown drug next to him. Kit is still heartbroken but can’t leave him alone and takes him to her home to dry out. At this point I was shocked. I couldn’t imagine how this could lead to a HEA; I was wrong. From this nightmarish beginning comes the slow unfolding of a renewed friendship and eventual true love story.
Once sober, Noah pleads with Kit to be friends again. Kit’s still hurt and horrified by his treatment, but she’s also desperately in love with him and agrees to try.
As they work on their friendship, the depth and intensity of their earlier friendship is revealed. They share so much – hobbies, feelings, and memories. They talk about and support each other’s work. Noah knows her bad habits, buys her the junk food she likes, and cooks her the healthy food she needs when working on a project that requires her to diet.
During this period Noah continues to pick up women, leading Kit to date, to hope she can move on. But their efforts to develop a platonic friendship go awry when events force them to pretend to be lovers to protect Kit’s career, throwing them into almost constant, intimate contact with each other.
How could I possibly believe in Noah as a hero? Partially, because when the narrative shifts to Noah’s perspective it’s clear he loves Kit. He hates himself for what he did to her, but believes horrific events of his childhood have left him “messed up on a level nothing will ever fix” and he’ll never deserve her. Noah’s haunted by nightmares so overwhelming he avoids sleep with a variety of methods including picking up random women to have sex with and block out his memories. Does it excuse what he did to Kit? No, but he spends most of the rest of the book attempting to support her, help her, and to protect her from a stalker who reappears as their relationship plays out in public.
I wasn’t sure I would like an actress as a heroine, but Kit is a wonderful character. She feels deeply, but acts like an adult, making it clear what she will and won’t accept from Noah. Despite being a rock star and an actress, both Noah and Kit feel real. They’re fully developed characters with careers they love and friends they value. While many of their friends appear in earlier entries in the series, I believe this would work as a standalone.
This isn’t going to be for everyone, and I initially thought it wasn’t for me. After reading a few chapters I put it down; Noah wasn’t my vision of a hero. But I couldn’t put it out of my mind in the ensuing days. I found myself wondering how Ms. Singh could turn Noah into a hero. When I picked it back up I read the remainder straight through, and cried at the end, completely convinced of Noah and Kit’s HEA.
This is our second review of this book.