Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I will say the wrong words from time to time. And I will cock things up. That’s a given, unfortunately. but there will never, ever be a time when I do not love you or want you in my life.”
Sophie Darling thought she had struck gold when she is upgraded to first class on a trip to England. And when the most beautiful man she’s ever seen sits next to her she practically vibrates with lust, convinced this is her reward for all her good deeds in life.
Then he opens his mouth.
Gabriel Scott is on his way to England to meet up with the rock band he manages. Used to getting what he wants when he wants, he is visibly upset when he is forced to share a cabin with another person. When his complaints fall on deaf ears, he decides to make the best of it, offhandedly noticing his seat mate is gorgeous.
Then she opens her mouth.
What starts out as a battle of the wits with Sophie determined to ruffle her straight laced companion soon morphs into a friendship of sorts as Sophie and Gabriel begin to engage in harmless flirting and energetic discussions to pass the time. When Gabriel discovers Sophie is interviewing for a social media position for the band, his disappoint is keen. Gabriel doesn’t date fans or employees but the attraction between them can not be denied. Once they arrive in England, Gabriel finds he can’t stay away from Sophie and doesn’t really want to. But he’s been hurting for so long and is used to managing it on his own. Now he needs to decide if he’s willing to let go of some of his famous control and fall into the unknown of love with the one person who cannot be managed.
Managed in the 2nd installment in Kristen Callihan’s sexy, humorous, bittersweet contemporary romance VIP series. Based on the members of a famous rock band, Kill John, this heavily character driven story revolves around the band’s icy, standoffish manager and the carefree, uninhibited woman who’s made it her mission to melt all the ice and bring forward the passionate man underneath. Book one, Idol, gave us the lead singer’s story and we learned that the band went through a dark period when one of their members OD’d and was placed in rehab. Though things are much better now, the ramifications from that event reverberated through the band, affecting them all. Especially their manager-Gabriel Scott. As each installment revolves around one couple, they can be technically read as standalones however there are events and characters in book one that cascade over into this book.
I adore Kristen Callihan’s romances from her humorous and sexy NA sport series to her gritty and dark paranormal series. Callihan has a gift for digging deep beneath the artifice and tripe, taking readers an unexpected and exciting adventure jam packed with love, lust, fear, loss, and acceptance. Though predictable in terms of the HEA-it is romance after all-it’s the journey there that holds our attention with the humor, spontaneity, chemistry driven love scenes, and overall dynamics. The essential meet cute at 35,000 feet in the air is a unique introduction in that this couple is essentially forced to make nice for hours and it sets up this opposite attraction romance deliciously. I found it really gives readers an intimate and quite comical look into the personalities of Sophie and Gabriel.
“I don’t like you,” I mutter…
“Lie,” he points out. “You’ve told me repeatedly now that you find me blindingly attractive.”
“That doesn’t mean I like you. Besides, your brand of pretty is a weapon. You reel victims in with it, just like a vampire does. I wouldn’t be surprised if you sparkle in the sun.”
“I cannot believe I’m arguing with a woman who references Twilight.”
“The fact that you know I’m referencing Twilight betrays you as a secret Edward-loving fanboy.”
His snort is loud and scathing. “Team Jacob all the way.”
I can’t help it, my eyes fly open, and I lift a corner of my mask to glare at him. “That’s it. We can never be friends.”
I absolutely adore Sophie. She is an absolute delight with her outward sunny personality and buried complex nature. A breathe of fresh air who breezes through life seemingly unconcerned and deftly takes what life hands her like a pro. Pretty, funny, intelligent, and very snarky, Sophie isn’t in need of saving from anything. She isn’t suffering from a dark tragedy or a broken heart. She has has pretty good life with a loving family. A former freelance photographer, (paparazzi), she does has a connection Kill John that ties into the previous events. She makes her peace with the band and attempts to navigate her way through her new job and her feelings for Gabriel.
“Gabriel Scott might not know how to manage me, but I sure as shit am clueless when it comes to him too.”
Gabriel Scott is a grumpy, cold, standoffish man whose entire life revolves around the band. Having attended school with the band members, they share a special bond that transcends the usual manager/artist(s) relationship. Intelligent, sexy, gorgeous, and very commanding, Gabriel chooses to manage his lingering anger over his childhood through some questionable means. His fear of commitment casts a long shadow. He hasn’t the time to invest in them and he has been used to many times by those who want to get close to the band. Meeting Sophie is an eye opener that scares him to death. She both exhilarates and confuses him. He is stymied how this one person managed to get under his skin so deep. Something very few have ever managed to accomplish.
“I don’t know whether to run or grab hold of her and never let go.”
The slow burn romance of Sophie and Gabriel’s relationship from friends to lovers gives readers a chance to understand what makes these people tick. Intense chemistry explodes between them from the first time they meet, melting into a sexual tension that drives this couple as they feint and parry, unsure of what exactly is building between them and if they will survive it.
“I have never experienced intimacy. I did not know how good it felt to simply be with someone and let everything else melt away. The world can fuck off when I’m with Sophie Darling. There is only us. I don’t have to be anyone else but Gabriel.”
Through laughter and tears, Callihan shows this couple that should they choose to drop their shields, they have a phenomenal chance at happiness together. Gabriel’s inherent protective nature and Sophie’s ability to see the real Gabriel despite what he chooses to show the world only further proves they are meant for one another.
“Most people believe I’m incapable of feeling anything.”
Outrage punches through my chest like a burning fist. In that moment, I know I’d go to war for this man. Even if he hated every second of it. No one should have to face the world without someone at their back. Especially not someone as dedicated as Gabriel.”
We see old and new faces; each one an important part of the storyline. Killian and Libby are here along with the rest of the band. And we get to meet some new faces who offer clues to possible future couples. A somewhat predictable plot device pops up towards the end and is used to push Gabriel and Sophie into confronting the last of their doubts and overcoming them.
“Destroyed. My polished armor. My stubborn resistance. My hardened heart. She’s smashed through the first two and laid total claim on the third. And I don’t feel like running.”