Publisher submission in exchange for an honest review.
Shadows Steal the Light
February 1, 2011
Colin Dunlow is caught in a web of alcoholism precipitated by his skyrocketing fame as lead singer of the world’s hottest hard rock group, Dumbarton. When he bumps into legal activist and sultry jazz singer, Jenna Lindstrom, he’s no idea what’s in store. How can he maintain his newfound sobriety whilst navigating a comeback and investigate who might want him dead? All of this and he has an AA sponsor who won’t allow him any serious relationship, not if he wants to live. What’s a rocker to do? Especially when the woman of his dreams hates rock and roll.
Things you don’t know about me that affected the way I read this book: I love music of all types, and I love musicians. Aside from reading, my primary hobby is going to see live music, and yes, I have been known to wait outside next to a tour bus or near the stage door to get a picture or an autograph or just to thank the performers for sharing their gifts. So clearly, when a romance focused on musicians showed up in the inbox, I jumped at the chance to review it.
Meet Colin. He’s a British rock god, who also happens to be a relatively new member of AA. Colin has been partying it up, Keith Richards style, when he hits bottom. He gets himself cleaned up, joins AA, bonds with Robert, his sponsor, and re-enters the world of rock & roll a semi-changed man. He’s ready to get back on tour, but of course he’s freaking out about getting back into the rock star lifestyle. Robert is there to guide him every step of the way, but he has one major stipulation: Colin cannot involve himself in a serious relationship with a woman until a year has passed.
Enter Jenna. She’s a sultry jazz singer from California, who hates all things having to do with rock music. Jenna is discovered by Kyle while performing with a local choir. Kyle convinces Jenna that she could be the next big thing, so she signs a contract and follows Kyle to London to record an album and perform at the Royal Albert Hall. The morning of the big RAH gig, Jenna is out walking and runs into (literally) Colin. He takes Jenna out for tea, learns of her hatred for his chosen profession and hides it from her. He arranges to meet her at the RAH that night.
It turns out that Kyle is also Colin’s manager. Colin asks Kyle to head Jenna off at the RAH so she doesn’t discover who he really is. But, of course, she finds out anyway. She’s furious with both of them, hates men, regrets her decision to start a singing career, etc. Both men try to apologize, but she’s not having any of it. Until Colin kisses her. And then it’s a match made in heaven – minus the fact that Kyle’s into her as well, and that Colin isn’t supposed to be involved with anyone for a year. Somehow, Jenna and Colin decide that since they can’t be lovers, they might as well be friends. (Cue the music in my head – Michael Bolton’s “How Can We be Lovers” if you were interested.)
Oh wait. I missed one tiny detail. Someone is trying to kill Colin.
Long story short, Jenna gets shot while she’s on a picnic with Colin. He takes her to the hospital and takes care of her. Then he realizes that the shooter was after him. So, in typical hot-headed male hero fashion, Colin decides that never seeing Jenna again is the best way to handle things. He leaves her in Kyle’s care, and disappears into his touring schedule, inadvertently setting up a love triangle.
Colin resolves to work with the police to find the person who shot Jenna. Of course, he can’t quite get Jenna out of his head, so he randomly pops in to see her. Jenna, in the meantime, is trying to figure out what she’s feeling. She’s physically attracted to both Colin and Kyle, but it’s Colin who she connects with on a deeper level. But with Colin’s long absences and Kyle’s proximity, it’s hard to make the choice.
There is a ton of drama in this story. There’s the musical nuances (which I absolutely loved), the love triangle (which was written exceptionally well, and I thought really captured the indecision that usually accompanies an attraction to two men), and the murder plot (which was a little slow to develop, but added a nice little twist). All of this has the underlying theme of Colin dealing with his demons and how that affects everything he does. It could probably even be argued that Colin’s struggles are the main focus of this story, and everything else is just secondary.
I really liked this one. And maybe it was because some of the plot points hit pretty close to home (no, I don’t think anyone has ever tried to kill me), but I thought that Christine London did a remarkable job with capturing the intricacies of emotional turmoil and struggle. Her characters were very real to me, and I imagine that if she weren’t fictional, Jenna and I would be great friends. There is also a very good chance that I would hang out in an alley behind a venue in order to track down Colin and beg for a picture.