Saturday, July 26, 2014

Play (Stage Dive #2) by Kylie Scott

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Kylie Scott returns with the highly anticipated follow-up to international bestseller Lick.

Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl. Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big  ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?

Kylie Scott made a fan out of me with Lick, the first in the Stage Dive series.  The chemistry that she brought to David and Ev’s relationship was ridiculously fantastic in its intensity. In Play, she does the same thing though a different kind of chemistry and a whole lot of hilarity.

Mal Erickson, hottie drummer extraordinaire is essentially the class clown. He’s the funny guy who can crack a joke in a millisecond, diffuse a tense moment and just reduce anyone into fits of giggles. He’s the guy who enjoys baiting people and riling them up. Hmmm… kind of reminds me of my hubby.  Anne comes into his life one night at a party after mutual friends convince her to join them in an effort to cheer her up. You see, earlier she came home to an empty apartment, her deadbeat roommate having moved out without so much as a warning or even repaying the money Anne had loaned her. At the party, Anne seeks out a quiet spot to have a conversation with her friend Reece, who is also her boss at the bookstore. He also happens to be the object of her unrequited love. She doesn’t realize that Mal is in the background listening in on her end of the phone conversation. So their initial meeting is a little awkward and Mal is of course, mischievous.

Later that night he announces they’re destined to be together and they’re moving in. He’s obviously drunk and Anne has no idea what to do with him. There’s no way he could possibly be serious. Oh just wait. The next day, there he is all moved in. In her apartment. This is for real! Apparently, he feels that they can each benefit from this arrangement. She wouldn’t have to worry about rent and for some reason that he refuses to divulge, he needs someone to be his pretend girlfriend. Anne ends up going with it. Who knows it could be fun plus she's curious about Mal.  

Okay, this whole setup is outlandish but I’m not reading this for a heavy dose of reality.  I knew I'd be in for a fun read and I was honest to goodness laughing my behind off! I mean the kind of laughing where your entire body is shaking. Mal is so comical. He’s like a goofy puppy dog wanting to be played with and adored. Lucky Anne gets to deal with this hyper, dramatic manchild and she deftly holds her own. Their conversations and quips are spot on. The timing just perfect. She handles whatever is thrown at her like a champ and she dishes back. So much about their whole setup seems implausible but they somehow get each other and they click.  

As with these things, there is obviously something going on with Mal below the surface. He just refuses to talk about it.  At some point, Mal can no longer keep up appearances. He eventually confides in Anne. When that happens, Anne's heart goes out to him. Using her screwed up family as an example to help Mal open up, she can perhaps sort herself out too. 

By the way, these two together are as hot as hell! Even when they’re baiting each other it’s sexy and fun. My favourite scene involves the crashing of a bed and that ludicrous banter leading up to it. I’m not telling you, you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

In between all the sexy stuff and funny jokes, what's troubling Mal also affects the rest of the band. When that all comes to light, it’s wonderful to see the entire band rally around each other. This is a family and they stick together no matter what. So it’s nice for Anne, who has always had to fix things herself, to see this, experience it and be embraced into this family. It’s also nice for her to finally be appreciated by someone who actually sees her instead of her being taken for granted.

Play is awesome. Lick was intense and complicated and Play does have some of that. While Mal may drive a lot of the action, it's Anne's impressive acceptance of his craziness and how unique their relationship is that makes the story special. And because Kylie Scott does such a bang up job of creating distinct personas for her characters, Play is exciting, heartwarming, adventurous and no lie, laugh-out-loud funny!

~ Bel

* The review for Lead (Stage Dive #3) will be posted on its release day, Tuesday, July 29

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