1. Pre-book purchase, reading the blurb:Country singer Willie Meadows is a fake. He’s never ridden a horse, and his “Western” gear comes from a boutique shop in LA. No wonder Wilson Edwards, the real man in those fake boots, is suffering creative block.
Sooo just like every other current pop singer with a Western Drawl "country singer" then? :PDetermined to connect with the music, Wilson buys a ranch in Wyoming to learn the country way of life, even if he has no intention of running the business. Then Steve Peterson shows up desperate, destitute, and hungry, having just escaped a gay deprogramming hospital run by his father’s cult.
Aaaand hooked. This is either going to be really good or really bad. We will have to see.
2. Just starting. I like Willie and hate Howard (his manager, not his co-MC). This looks really promising. In general I find this author's works hit-or-miss, but I'm hoping this is a hit.
3. Almost 1/2 through the book. So far so good, but Steve is remarkably unbrainwashed for living in a cult for most of his life.
4. More than halfway done. Wilson really needs to call his lawyers and do some Katie-Holmes-fleeing-Tom-Cruise shit for Steve. You know, three lawfirms in three states, a disposable phone, security, etc. Maybe that's later.
5. Niiiice. Calling a woman we have known for two pages a slut. And portraying her as such. Have I mentioned how much I hate that? Because I hate it. I really hate it. Authors, for the love of whatever you find holy, pleeeease do not use gendered insults. God forbid a woman has a sex-drive, or expresses interest in a guy who is apparently single. Yep. She's Slutty McSluttersdottor*, apparently. Book was heading for a four, and right now I'm tempted to give it a three solely because I hate
using words like slut, bitch, cunt, etc.
*I wish I knew how to do umlauts. McSluttersdottor really needs umlauts
6. oookay, so the people Steve was running from were really looking for him so he could go back and... lead a revolt against his father. Apparently. If everyone in this cult hates Steve's dad why don't they just kick him out? For cults like that to work you have to have a majority of True Believers, at least until everyone is isolated in Guyana and ready for the Flavoraid. And even then you need a plurality of True Believers and/or lots of guns to force everyone to do what you want. Apparently the cult is still in the US and according Dumb and Dumber most everyone is ready to rebel. All they need is a leader. So why don't they just kick his ass out if he has very few True Believers?
Also, I find it really hard to believe that only Steve's dad and his inner circle were homophobic and everyone else in the cult were perfectly okay with Steve's sexuality. I suspect this author might not know how to write a character who is one of the good guys and yet is also homophobic. As a result only bad guys can be homophobic, never the good guys. Homophobia should be considered a character flaw that is part of the character's over all personality, rather than a sole defining trait. Just as my racist great-grandmother loved her family and was a science fiction fan (one of the old guard, from the 40s!) and had many positive traits, so can a homophobic character be decent in other areas of their life. They do not have to be Evil McEvilson constantly 24/7 in everything they do, right down to drowning puppies and eating kittens. Homophobia can be a subtle as liking the nice same sex couple down the street while thinking they shouldn't be able to get married.
7. Ohhh Slutty McSluttersdottor is back. Why is she back? Why are we manufacturing boring drama after just diffusing the only drama that I had actually been interested in? Three stars is looking more and more likely, but I have to work tomorrow and I still have more than a third to go. So I'm going to leave the review right here and finish it later.
8. FIRE HOWARD He is trying to run Wilson's life, which is not what a manager does. He has been doing this the entire book. He needs to be fired.
9. "It's better to control the message than to let someone else do it." THANK YOU HAMMER. My god, someone in this novel finally has a lick of sense. If you're a celebrity you don't let a situation like that go. You get ahead of it and deal with a couple months of shit before you can live your life. Look at Melissa Etheridge, she came out, did a big round of interviews, and now she's a lot happier. She did take a hit in sales, but it wasn't career-destroying. She's still a big country music star.
10. It... would have been really nice to read the climax of the story as it happened, not after the fact. It would have been really dramatic and interesting to read about Steve getting kidnapped as it happened.
"As you know, Bob, I was pulled off my horse and drugged. isn't actually all that exciting. Actually seeing it happen is
Okay, round up. In general I like this book. It's certainly not bad. I like the characters, although Wilson needed to grow a spine and Steve seemed to get over what had to be a very traumatic childhood quite easily. It missed out on being ranked a Four for a couple reasons.
A. As you probably noticed I really do not like women being treated badly. A "slut" is a woman who likes to have sex. A man like that is called a stud, but God-forbid a woman behaves the exact same way. Cheryl is made out to be some sort of comedic figure, hitting on a man she has no chance with. She adds nothing to the plot other than to be the Other Woman, and there are basically no redeeming characteristics about her. I don't care how minor a character she is, portrayals like that are awful and need to stop.
B. The conflict with the cult kinda... fizzled. It was interesting and scary when Steve genuinely thought he was in danger from the guys looking for him, but it turned out that they were just worried about him and wanted him to help them drive out his father. That makes his fears seem ridiculous instead. The information about the phone call was deliberately withheld from us readers, probably to make it seem more ominous every time it was referenced, but all it did was take more tension out of the story. It would have been nice to wonder and worry about where Steve's father is, but we don't get that either. Why weren't we told? I don't know.
C. Howard. He needed to be fired the moment he tried to control Wilson. It's pretty clear that Wilson and Howard could either be friends or employer/employee, but not both. At times it seems like he is deliberately ignoring what Wilson has told him point blank to do. That is not how a manager works, not with a big star like Wilson, anyway
D. There was all this buildup and drama about what coming out would do to Wilson's career... and then nothing really happens? That was kind of a let down.
Bottom line, this book started out fairly strong but by the mid-point it had lost a lot of it's steam.