Lori Toland – Into the Fire (The Replacement Guitarist 3)

into the fireAuthor: Lori Toland
Reviewer: Diane
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN: 9780988708815

Rating: ★★★★½ 

When Blaze got his dream job, he never imagined within a year he would be fired. After a botched performance with Cassie, he’s kicked off the tour — and so is his boyfriend Jason — but Blaze is determined to live his dream again and he may have found the perfect band to do it with.

He will stop at nothing to be back on stage, though the costs of stardom may bring an end to his romance with Jason. Can Blaze have it all? Or will Blaze have to leave his first love behind to follow his destiny?
A year after getting his dream job, Blake Shinozuka is fired after a botched performance with Cassie – and so is his boyfriend Jason. Blaze didn’t imagine starting again would happen so soon, but an opportunity opens up that might be a better match. Jason is happy for Blaze to have the opportunity, but it also means they have to evaluate what is really important to them, both professionally and personally, and what is real.
The story is told from alternating points of view of both Blaze and Jason.

If you have been reading this series, you know Home for the Holidays ended with Cassie firing both Blaze as her guitarist and Jason as her manager. While Jason has known Cassie for years but does not recognize the person she has become, Blaze has only seen the one version of her and does not like her. Auditioning for her tour may have introduced him to the world and to Jason, but he has no affection or history for her beyond that. Jason’s view is not quite so simple since they were the start of their careers – his first artist, her first big break. Although with her latest outburst, he’s willing to walk away if she thinks it will make her happy.

What I liked about this book, and with this series as it has developed, is the vulnerability of the two characters. The more they are together, the closer they become, the more the fears related to that are multiplied – and they are both afraid of the same thing, getting hurt. As much as they share a bit of that with each other, they don’t really have an honest heart to heart about it. Why Jason is so afraid of, but expecting, to be abandoned, by anyone he cares about. Why Blaze is expecting Jason to realize he is out of Blaze’s league and leaves him behind for someone “from his world”.

That also makes their relationship that much more real, despite the entertainment world they are a part of, but that likely contributes to their fears as well. How many people in a relationship share that which they are most afraid of?

As much as this book is a journey for Blaze starting again and maybe taking something that is more fitting, rather than just a paycheck, it is also about making a relationship work – or how people can push it to the breaking point. And they push it not because it is not meant to last, but because they let the fear take over their rational sense and they figure it’s better to give up than be left later on.

It is quite the emotional roller coaster, there are some great close moments, some assumption led arguments, but it looks like thing will be okay until Blaze’s new band is booked to open for Cassie. Democracy amongst the band books them on the tour and while he does his best to avoid her, she is heading on a downward spiral, which pulls on Jason. The fact Jason still cares about what happens to Cassie, even if it is as friends, sets Blaze off, especially when he planned to do a radio interview to share who he is so they don’t have to hide so much. For Blaze, Jason’s choice represents where he stands with Jason, for Jason, Blaze’s inability to see past how Cassie treated him represents not being there for him.

And then you get the twist, which obviously I’m not going to tell you what it is, all I know is that I’m reading away and ended with “are you kidding me” and now have to wait until Summer 2014 for the 4th and apparently final installment in The Replacement Guitarist series. And as frustrating as it is as a reader, it is the sign of a well written, well paced story when the author leaves you with the “WTH” finish!!!
I would recommend this story for all romance and erotica fans who like stories about musicians, it is a great balance of plot and hot scenes and I hope to find out soon which month of “summer 2014” that Into the Light, will be released.

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