Lori Toland – Encore (The Replacement Guitarist 4)

encoreAuthor: Lori Toland
Reviewer: Diane
Publisher: Lori Toland Books
Genre: M/M Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Blaze Shinozuka is a bonafide rockstar with his band, Razor’s Edge. After his romance with music manager Jason Stockton crashed and burned, Blaze is free to live and love. It’s been a wild and heady year that’s been blissfully drama free until the one man he’s been avoiding comes careening back in to wreak havoc on his heart once again.

Jason Stockton has become the superstar he never wanted to be. When his music reality show becomes an overnight success, he’s thrust into the limelight against his will. He’s coping with intrusions into his private life but then a chance encounter sends him right into the arms of the man he loved…and lost.

Their time apart has changed them, except the passion between them burns brighter than ever. With the media hounding them in the midst of multiple scandals, they find they can only depend on one person — each other. Will they learn to trust that their love is enough to see them through it all? Or will this be their final dance before calling it quits, this time for good?

This gay romance was formerly known as Into The Light and contains less loving than previous books in the series but more anger and snark. It also contains some female lovin’, beloved character death and a possibly repentant pop star.
Review: Possible spoilers for earlier books!
There will likely be spoilers in this review, but since it is book 4 in a series, that will hopefully not surprise anyone! Encore starts a year after Blaze and Jason had a very bad break up, Blaze is on the top of the world with his band while Jason has left the managing of Razor’s Edge to his assistant Jennifer. Jason has taken a spot on the reality show Second Chances, where former singing stars get their second chance and Jason’s reputation on the show would be on par with Simon Cowell from his American Idol days. They have managed to avoid seeing each other for the past year, however, the book opens with a charity show where at the last minute, Jason has been asked to fill in for the host who can no longer fill the spot.
The story is told from alternating points of view of both Blaze and Jason.

It took a while for me to start reading this series, as much as I am a huge fan of the author, and I’m not sure why since now, with book 4 having come out, I feel so invested in the characters that I go between not being sure I can read the chapter if it appears things will end badly to not being able to put the book down as I must know what happens next!

Into the Fire ended with such a cliffhanger with the break up, but I like the fact that Encore is set a year ahead of that, that the two characters did not just end up in the same room and have a quick make up a couple of weeks or month later. It is quite brilliant on the part of the author to have this book start a year later. Blaze has had some life experience that did not involve Jason, and it has taught him more about himself and what he likes and doesn’t like. He’s had flings, but no emotional connections with any of his affairs, although he has discovered he likes versatility, although no one has topped him since his break up with Jason. While Jason always appeared as the more mature and developed person in the previous books, while Blaze still has a temper, he is definitely more mature than when The Replacement Guitarist began.

What I also felt I learned about Jason in this book is that his strongest characteristic, which is likely his biggest weakness, is his desire to want to take care of and protect everyone around him and/or everyone he cares about. Cassie was one that he tried to protect from the media, Blaze, his family. He will happily take the lumps from the media rather than have them directed to anyone he cares for or feels responsible for. However, that is also what leads to a lot of his problems! Case in point, he is supposedly seeing an actress as this book begins, but the truth of that story, after he and Blaze have a bit of a reunion, hurts Blaze – again, as Jason tries to control how it plays out, without trusting in Blaze.

It was rather amazing that in this story, you really do see Jason crack and reach his breaking point, not only for how sickly he seems to be, even to Blaze and to the point he goes to stay with his Gran, but emotionally as well, his façade pretty much falls away as he loses one person so dear to him and he has to decide if he’s willing to lose the love of his life as well.

As with the previous book, the people are so real, you go through moments of loving and hating them all, wanting them to do things, then not wanting them to go down a certain road and while Blaze has felt all this time that he was the one who would lose, it does not seem that way at all through this book.

I love the secondary characters, the whole Zach and Jennifer connection I did not see coming, nor did I see who would be behind the photos that kept surfacing of Zach, and there are still some unresolved sides to Pete, and perhaps those stories can be explored outside of this series, but I can say this series has only gotten better and better, with lots of surprises along the way!

It is another emotional roller coaster, I’d recommend having the tissues handy for many scenes, but it is so worth the ride!
I would still recommend this story for all romance and erotica fans who like stories about musicians and celebrities; it is a great balance of plot and hot scenes. I hope we may get to revisit these characters in future short stories, or spin off stories of the secondary characters, as I loved them all!
If it was possible, this review would be a 5+!!!

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  1. Pingback: Hearts on Fire Reviews » Our Favorites! The Books We Loved in 2014

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