I am a sucker for stories about talented, driven rock stars and here we meet guitar god, Diego Delgado, of the up-and-coming band, The Jetsetters. It’s a bit of a switch that this story is not from Diego’s perspective but that of his lover, Justin Holt. In fact, this is where the story begins to lose steam for me because I am ultimately much more interested in Diego.
The story is based in Chicago where Justin is attending college and working part-time in a coffee shop. It’s there that he meets the hot Diego. The two are instantly smitten, romance immediately ensues. Diego is a talented and devoted musician. He doesn’t care about fame and fortune, it’s all about the music for him. (I loved the frequent musical references, and that he reads Pablo Neruda. These kinds of details that add depth and color to the characters often get short shrift in M/M romance stories about artists.) Even though the story is from Justin’s POV I come away feeling like I know Diego better. Justin just doesn’t feel as fully realized and he often comes off as rudderless and easily manipulated.
‘The Jetsetters’ never really clicks for me much that I want it to. I find it hard to bond with the overly romantic treatment and difficult to connect with Justin and Diego as a couple. Their insta-love is unrealistic and their relationship seems sketched out. Just three days after their meeting, Diego leaves on an extended, five week band tour. When he finally returns, the author throws everything at the two guys to keep them from having a moment alone to develop that insta-connection. We’re swamped with scads of secondary characters: band members, managers, groupies, reporters, strangers in shops, in train stations, on the street (so many, I considered taking notes); all, a motley crew of troubled addicts, scheming climbers, cynical friends and depressed relatives, disillusioned, sad or beaten down in some way. For a fantasy romance, it is a dark, dark world.
At one point a reporter asks Halo, the alcoholic, lead singer in the band:
“Do you suffer from depression?”
She answers, “...depression suffers me. It will probably become my trademark...
Because no one else can suffer as beautifully as I can.”
This story feels fractured, almost as if the author had a laundry list of ingredients to throw into the stew: is it a love story or is it a band story; is it about sweet yearning or is it about the dark edgy side of the rock music world? I want more cohesiveness between the two, more sophisticated character development and smoother plot transitions. The writing often seems indulgent: there is a lot of wasted space given to constant descriptions of various character’s clothing and hairstyles. In fact, every time we meet and re-meet a character we get a run-down on their appearance. The character development is off: love happens very fast with these guys, before they really know each other. Much of the time they are apart or distracted. They don’t get the time we
need to see why
they are so attracted to each other.
Towards the end of our fractured fairytale there is the requisite misunderstanding and separation resulting in a quickly done reconciliation, so quick that it seems as if the author ran out of steam. 2 stars for the effort (which means it was OK but ultimately disappointing).