Reviewed by Tracey
Favorite Quote: “It was just our kisses, our steady heartbeats, and the snow falling outside the windows all around us.”
Blurb: Grady Dawson’s future looks bright. He’s at the top of his country music career, has a close-knit group of friends who have become his Nashville family, and has found solid ground in his personal life as he plans his intimate, private wedding with Nico, his stylist turned lover turned love of his life. It seems Grady has finally left his difficult childhood and tumultuous youth behind. That is, until his past shows up on his doorstep, news of his upcoming nuptials is leaked to the media, and his record company starts issuing demands that challenge his integrity as an artist and as a person. The foundation Grady built his new life on begins to crumble and fast. Can he have his future if he’s haunted by his past? Can he continue making music if it means comprising his convictions? Must he make the ultimate choice between a private life with Nico and the public demands of his career?
This is the final book of the Spotlight series by Lilah Suzanne, and I really do wish I had known and had had the time to go back and read the first two books. Some book blurbs do mention if the books are a stand alone novel or not. This is in no way a stand alone book, and I would encourage anyone interested to please read the first two books before you read this one. Without reading the first two, this book just falls flat. This story picks up during the wedding planning for Grady and Nico, the two main characters, whose met and fell in love during the first two books. I picked up clearly on Grady’s character and background, it was layered and revealed slowly throughout the book. I did feel I came to know him better than any other character in the book. The physical descriptions of both men were scarce, and I didn’t even realize Grady had blonde hair till about 70% into the book. I’m the type of reader who likes to visualize the people I’m reading about. There was a little more mention about Nico’s looks, but not much. I know he had dark hair and long legs.
Grady has a close group of friends who surround him, and though I was interested in who the friends were, and how they came together as his surrogate family, not much backstory was given to that. There was a woman named Clem, who I found out at the end of the book was a singer, but I knew nothing about her throughout the book…and, she sounded interesting. I would have liked just a little info about her.
This story begins with Grady’s record company wanting him to change the lyrics to his new single, because it’s a gay love song.
“Some people. Not me, I would never, you know that. They think the single is too controversial. Too political.”
It’s a love song, and the record company doesn’t want to produce a love song written from a man to another man. The record company’s machinations and the wedding planning are the major stories in book. Grady doesn’t want to change his lyrics, but he also doesn’t want to tell Nico about the situation. After the meeting, he runs to his friends to talk, not to Nico.
“Grady came right to their house after the meeting with Duke. It’s a good place to go when he needs a kind and understanding ear or two.”
This decision baffled me, because why wouldn’t it be your fiance that you’re talking to about having difficulties with your music? Why wouldn’t you talk to your partner? Maybe if I had read the other two books, I would have liked Nico better, but in this book, he just comes across as a demanding, unfeeling jerk. It’s always Grady trying to pacify Nico. There also isn’t an alternating POV, we only see Grady’s thoughts and feelings. Maybe if we had seen Nico’s POV, he wouldn’t have seemed so shallow and precious.
I’m not a big fan of the story narrative being driven by lack of communication between the main characters, and there is a lot of that going on here. Lack of communication and just an unwillingness to listen to each other. Neither man seems to have any faith in the relationship, and there is never any deep dialogue between them when they actually discuss the issues which bother them. There are some overheard conversations and misconstrued situations which are also used as plot devices, and these could have been remedied with a few words. These situations make the story drag and fall flat.
Nico does, at the end, do something sweet for Grady. That was nice, but it was just a little too late for me to change my opinion of him, and I would have loved to have seen Grady grow a little backbone. After this book, I’m really not interested in reading the first two, so I probably should have started with book #1, and maybe I would have understood where both of the men’s personalities were coming from.