Desert Isle Keeper
Stay Until We Break
I’m happy to report that Stay Until We Break exceeded the hopes I had for it. I really enjoyed the whole 90’s rock environment that Mercy Brown created for Loud Is How I Love You but admittedly, I struggled to like Emmylou. I had no such problem with Cole and Sonia.
For the second installment in Brown’s Hub City series, we are back with indie rock band Stars on the Floor (nicknamed Soft), this time as they take off on tour around the East Coast. Bassist Cole McCormack is hiding a secret from his band mates – this will be his last hoorah performing with the band. He’s planning to quit the band at the end of the tour to start work as a plumber. As much as he loves performing, he needs to raise money for his sister’s college tuition and help support his struggling mother.
Band manager Sonia Grant has no clue that Cole is planning to split. All she is focused on is making a name for Soft. She has been working round the clock to get their single on the radio, book gigs, and try to snag a record deal. She would be crushed if she knew that Cole was planning to leave just when the band is taking off.
One of the biggest qualms I had about Loud Is How I Love You was that Emmylou and Travis hooked up at the start of the book, and as a result the rest of their conflict became hopping in to bed together, getting cold feet, fighting, and then rinse and repeat. Sonia and Cole are saved from this as Sonia’s initial hesitancy delays the romance somewhat and lets the reader suffer in anticipation awhile longer. Sonia seems certain that Cole will break her heart, since he has a reputation for being a bit of a playboy. You can’t blame her for feeling that way, given that she’s a room away when he comes pretty close to engaging in a three-way. I love that kind of angst and anxiety between romantic leads. I want the longing glances, hints of jealousy, and a little suffering while they struggle to get on the same romantic page. Stay Until We Break delivers that.
Sonia and Cole also get to have a bit more fun than we saw in the previous book. The band is on tour, so there are plenty of hijinks involving weird sleeping arrangements, fireworks, fights, a run in with the police, and a game of strip pool. Seeing all of the characters interacting with their musical world as well as with the varied personalities they meet on their tour, helped me to get to know them in a way I didn’t in the first book.
Since Brown is a musician herself and has experience of a similar setting to that of the story, there is richness to the world building. You can tell she knows her stuff when it comes to instruments, gigs, and the general ins and outs of being in a rock band, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on your level of interest in that kind of detail. I enjoy a lot of what Brown brings to the table in terms of setting, but the story occasionally gets bogged down talking about specifics that are lost on me. That’s really the only place that the book lost me a little, because I was taken out of the story from time to time by the lingo used. The writing style, being first person present tense and very conversational, helps to assuage this to an extent, because you feel like you’re really in the characters’ heads in the moment; however I could see it being a drawback for some readers.
If you are looking for a youthful, fun romance with an indie rock backdrop, you’ll enjoy Sonia and Cole’s story. As much as I would recommend Loud is How I Love You, I actually think readers will love Stay Until We Break even more.