Review: A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love by Arden Powell

When Kris Golding leaves his dusty Kansas hometown for a fresh start in New York, he thinks an apartment and a job are waiting for him. But when he finds neither, rather than admit defeat, he takes his chances busking—and meets Rayne Bakshi of international rock band The Chokecherries. Rayne needs a new guitarist, and gives Kris his first break since leaving home.

Rayne wears makeup and glitter and thinks nothing of kissing Kris in front of twenty thousand screaming fans for the attention. Instantly infatuated, Kris begins to question whether he might have a crush on Rayne—could he be bisexual? But since Kris originally claimed to be straight, Rayne’s wary of getting involved offstage.

As their tour gains momentum, Kris’s sexuality becomes the least of his troubles. Between his conservative brother hell-bent on “rescuing” him from his life of debauchery, a peacock that may or may not be the avatar of a cult god, and a publicity stunt that threatens to upend the band, Kris is definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Honestly, I'm kind of mad at myself for this one. Ordinarily, I have (and abide by) a rule of no rockstars in my reads but the lure of an androgynous character tested my resolve. That coupled with visions of Adam Lambert dancing in my head and before I knew it I'd clicked the request button.


Wait... well, that too but I meant...

I think the author did too because Rayne is IN CHARGE on stage and Kris plays lead guitar and becomes blonde with kind of that same haircut so... coincidence? Whatever. I dug it. Kris also dabbles in the androgyny once he joins the band and is even mistaken for a girl at a club. 

All of these things I liked. The beginning was going swimmingly.

Kris has lived a sheltered life in Kansas and lucks into joining The Chokecherries through a series of unfortunate events including him busking in NYC to make some money for a place to sleep. He's attracted to Rayne immediately but has never labeled or identified as bi before and I appreciated that he needed a minute to adjust. Angel was a great character too. She helps Kris reframe some things when he struggles.

But then the waters got muddied by his assertions towards the end that he's always been bi, he's just never said it aloud. Really? That wasn't the impression I labored under for over half the book. I'm a fan of angst but there wasn't much and that coupled with the above assertion derailed the whole narrative for me. If it's not a problem to be with Rayne and you've always been bi then why the push/pull for well over half the story?

It didn't help the cause that the narrative squirreled into Weirdtown at the end then threw the uppercut of a fade to black sex scene which left me wondering why was there a need to build the sexual tension to Hoover Dam levels if you're planning to flood the plain anyway? What's more, the UST never really morphed into a romance I could believe in and then... Weirdtown.

Regarding Weirdtown... in a nutshell, this story is EXACTLY what the blurb advertises. I could've saved myself the 300+ page read and just read the blurb, because that's the whole bizarre story. I would've preferred the protagonists to have an adult conversation rather than relying on this odd plot device to "bring them together" as it were. 

Lesson learned. No more rockstars for me. I would categorize this story as coming of age/self-discovery with romantic elements rather than a romance.

There were things I liked but on the whole this was a dud for me and not something I'd recommend, but my opinions are my own and YMMV.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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