Title: In The Band
Author: Jean Haus
Pages: 301 (e-book)
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review
When family problems push Riley Middleton into giving up a percussion scholarship in another state and attending college from home, her friends push her to try out for a local rock band. Of course, Riley makes the band. She rules at the drums.
Riley soon finds out rock bands have a different dynamic than marching bands, especially when each of her male band mates has a major ego and is a major player. Two of them relentlessly flirt with her. The other—a dark, sexy rock god she can’t help being attracted to— is a total jerk and pushes her to quit. She becomes determined to ignore his rudeness and his hotness. Even if she was interested in jerks, a hook up would probably get her booted out of the ego-ridden band, and playing keeps her sane. Behind the drums, the world and its troubles evaporate.
If she wants to stay in the band, Riley needs to ignore the growing sparks between her and her band enemy. But as she gets to know the man behind the stage persona, ignoring him proves to be more difficult than flowing through a time sig shift.
*New Adult/Mature YA for language and sexual situations.
Jean Haus has created one beautiful story that included everything that the NA genre should be about! There were characters that were real and awesome but also struggling with hardships that life can bring on. There was family drama that caused my heart to hurt. There was also college and the stress that school can bring on. And yes, there was also romance, romance that left me with a giant smile on my face. Through this wild rollercoaster ride a.k.a. Riley’s life, I discovered a story that I will be pushing on all of my contemp-loving friends from now on.
Riley is a character I LOVED! Not only did I appreciate her absolute adoration for music, but I was also insanely jealous of her talent. This girl is one heck of a drummer. She reminds me of Jess from The Summer Set. I’ve seen that band in concert half a dozen times, and Jess’s drumming skills blow me away, and make her an even more kick-butt girl in my opinion. Riley harbors this skill as well and that is only scratching the surface on what I loved about her. Throughout the whole duration of the story, Riley struggles. She struggles with her mom and dad’s divorce, she struggles with her mom’s depression, she struggles with the countless amounts of sacrifices she makes for her family, she struggles with relationships between her best friends, she struggles to find her place in her new band, and she struggles through school and a budding relationship with a hot rocker (who I shall discuss further and swoon about immensely fairly shortly). Basically my point is, is that Riley has it so hard but not once did I find her situation unbelievable (sucky yes, but always realistic) nor did I find her to be a complainer. Quite the opposite, Riley was a fighter with a tough-but-sweet attitude, and that my friends is why I loved her so much. She had her moments, don’t get me wrong, but I found that I quite loved her good and bad parts equally by the end of this story.
Earlier when I mentioned that this book included everything that the NA genre SHOULD include, I 100% meant it. There has been a lot of controversy that the NA genre is just sexed-up YA books. Not this book, people. There are sexy times, yes (I’ll get to the swoony parts in a bit) but it was the other stuff that Riley dealt with, all while entering college and adult-hood, and her reactions to those instances that make this a truly great NA story. Riley finds herself not only taking care of her younger sister, but she also manages to juggle school and a gig as the new drummer for an up-and-coming band, Luminescent Juliet. I felt for her struggles. I know that feeling of being pulled in a million different directions, wanting to help as many people and take care of as many things as possible, all the while attempting to do something solely for you; yeah, it can get tough. While I may never have had to deal with a parent going through depression nor the constant demands of band practice and gigs (although I do wish I had the skills to join a band just so I could experience it!), Jean wrote them all in a way that made it relatable. Even if you haven’t gone through exactly what Riley was dealing with, you could still feel for her and want to root for her throughout the book.
Now this band and the swoony parts that I keep mentioning, well people, *sighs*, it was every music-addicted, book-obsessed girl’s dream! I love that music played not only such a big role in our main character’s life but in the book as a whole! I loved that Jean wrote the interactions of the band mates because for most of us, we only see what happens on stage, not what goes on behind the scenes. I love that Jean included real songs, awesome songs at that, throughout the story that related to the scenes going on around it. But most of all, I loved that Jean included some hot band mates for our girl Riley to interact with.
Now, before you start thinking, “Katelyn, seriously. You are 20 years old. Your boy crazy days should be long-gone by now,” let me talk about our dear (and hot as heck) Romeo. And then maybe you can understand where I am coming from.
Romeo was one heck of a love interest. When we first meet Romeo, he is performing with his band. We shall call this the “Oh My Gosh. It’s a hot band-guy!” stage. Riley has a brief interaction with him after this performance but that is the extent of it. When we next meet Romeo, he is a jerk, a hot jerk, but still a total ass-hat. Riley tries out for the band, does awesome at her tryouts, and Romeo is completely rude to her. Don’t even get me started on how much he nagged on her once she actually joined the band. We shall call this “I sort of really dislike you but I like to “pretend” look at you” stage. Then, as the story progresses, we get to see more and more of the guy beneath this jerky, tough exterior. Romeo turns out to be a really great guy. Not only is he hot and can play a number of instruments, but he is smart, responsible, takes care of those he really cares about, and not to mention he is incredibly business savvy especially when it comes to his band (what can I say, I like smart, responsible, hot, and musically talented men). Like Riley, Romeo comes with a past that breaks my heart, but it sort explains why he is the way he is towards Riley at the beginning, and also makes me love him loads more. We shall call this the “Romeo, you are perfection rolled into a nice-looking package and I shall love you for forever” stage.
Romeo and Riley’s relationship certainly has its struggles at the beginning, what with neither of them really liking each other. But I think that the journey they went on throughout In The Band was realistic. It had its ups and down, it had its struggles and swoon-worthy moments, but it was also real. I think that both characters taught each other something, and they each grew from their relationship which is yet another reason why I think this makes In The Band an excellent NA story.
So if you couldn’t tell from all of the gushing, I loved the heck out of this story. It was real and incredibly perfect for anyone that loves kick-butt main characters, an excellent mix of tough moments and swoon-worthy moments, and hot guys in bands, in their books!
Check back later in the week for a special interview with the one and only Jean Haus as well as a book playlist!