Review: K.C. Burn – Banded Together

Author: K.C. Burn
Reviewer: Natalie
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Summary: Punk’s not dead, but it’s time to redefine life.

Devlin Waters thought he’d have music forever. But the tragic death of his best friend ended the twenty-year run of his punk band, Negative Impression. Unable to process the loss, Devlin distances himself from everyone and everything that reminds him of the band. But forty-one is too young to curl up and wait for the end. In a search for a second career, he finds himself at university with a bunch of kids young enough to be… his kids. His sexy archeology professor, however, makes Devlin think about life beyond his grief….

Dr. Jack Johnson does not appreciate Devlin’s lack of respect, his inability to be serious, or his chronic lateness. Worse, he hates that he’s attracted to a student. When he realizes Devlin is the rock star he crushed on in his youth, he drops his guard—against his better judgment.

Before they can move forward together, Jack must admit to Devlin that he’s not only an admirer, but he also sings in a cover band. How will Devlin react to his ultimate fanboy when his own music has died?

Review: I was very intrigued by the description of this life-after-the rock-star-career story. At my age, I also prefer reading about men in more mature phases of their lives. Devlin is searching for a new interest and escape from the isolation he’s created for himself, after the tragic loss of his best friend and band member. Attending his archaeology class, he finds the professor surprisingly attractive and enjoys discombobulating “Dr. Jack” during classes. He doesn’t know the real reasons Jack gets so flustered. I do know getting them to where they find common ground felt like a laborious process. For half the book, it was such slow going, Jack questioning his every interaction with Devlin, Devlin being stuck in place, feeling sorry for himself. There were dual POV’s but Devlin’s internal dialogue was circular, repeating thoughts without finding much incentive to change things.

Devlin has his mom to talk to, but he doesn’t listen to her advice, and Jack agonizes over everything with his friend Stephanie, so there were a couple of interesting side characters. A few exchanges occur between the couple early on, mostly by accident, before they move into friendship. That would create a solid basis for a relationship I guess but much of it occurred off-page. After 60%, they finally do the deed before the proverbial feces hit the fan. That made me like Devlin even less. The only way he finally came around was by virtue of someone else’s efforts. Jack and the mother did all the heavy lifting, as he lacked both initiative and empathy. I prefer a romance with more equal effort and understanding from both characters. I don’t care that Devlin was supposed to be grieving, he was a jerk.

Nevertheless, the narrative involved me enough to be annoyed with him and I really liked Jack’s character. I was entertained enough to read steadily, wanting to see Jack get his happy, even when I didn’t feel much emotional involvement. The epilogue was pretty lame, since it simply emphasized how Devlin still hadn’t put much effort into reconnecting with his past. It was at Christmas but not particularly evocative of the season. It was a likable story and had a lot of believability, it just may not be one I’ll reread.

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