“There is no better place to heal a broken heart than on the back of a horse.” ― Missy Lyons
Title: Off Stage: In the Wings
Author: Jaime Samms
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 326 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Lenny Stevens was the lead guitarist of the up-and-coming grunge band Firefly until he crossed the line with the band’s lead singer. Now he’s faced with the impossible task of rebuilding his life without the music that had kept him together. Struggling with his fear and rage, he creates the same damaging patterns in his relationship with his lover, Vance Ashcroft.
Vance knows that Lenny is the submissive meant for him. He is convinced he can save Lenny from his demons and puts faith in his ability. But when Len’s temper leads to him physically hurting Vance and destroying property, both men realize Len’s issues are too big for them to work through alone.
Seeking the help of the people who know Len best, Vance invites his former bandmates to the ranch for Len’s belated birthday party. Together, they try to create a safe haven for Len to come apart and, hopefully, rearrange himself into a man who can live with his past and create a future worth having.
Review: Off Stage: In The Wings is the second book in a series about the rock band Firefly. I didn’t read the first book, Off Stage: Right. For the first few pages of this book, I thought that might put me at a disadvantage, but that turned out not to be the case. I would have preferred to read them in order and would recommend that you do it that way, but enough background was given so I didn’t feel like I was coming in at the middle of the story. It just seemed like the back story was really good and I wish I had read it.
Lenny Stevens used to be the lead guitarist for the grunge band Firefly. He was involved in a torturous violent relationship with a lover, which he thought was a D/s relationship. It was, in fact, just plain violent. The anger that relationship ignited in Lenny spilled over into the band and ruined his relationship with the lead singer, his lifelong best friend.
Lenny is now involved with Vance Ashcroft, a very successful country singer. Vance is also a Dom. Lenny thinks he is ready for a D/s relationship with Vance, but he has too much rage and violence to be considered safe, sane and consensual, which are the watchwords of any D/s relationship, for lovers or just players. Vance knows Lenny has a long way to go to be ready for the relationship that they both want. He loves Lenny enough to be patient with him.
At least he thinks he does, until Lenny destroys a guitar that meant everything to him and lashes out and physically hurts Vance one too many times. Vance tries everything he can think of to help Lenny get past his rage. He realizes that he can’t do it alone and engages the help of Lenny’s band mates and friends, as well as Lenny’s and his own manager, a fellow Dom.
Things go downhill fast when they come together to celebrate Lenny’s birthday. It is the first time the band has all been together in a long time, and the one person Lenny wants to see the most, the lead singer whom he hurt, doesn’t feel ready to see him so he doesn’t come. That’s when the train runs off the rails.
Jaime Samms does a great job of taking the reader inside the mind of the abused and damaged Lenny and making us feel his pain. Not to the point where it is painful for us, but so we understand what is driving his behavior. He truly has no control over himself. The rage just takes over and he’s left standing there, dazed, looking at the pieces surrounding him afterward.
Ms. Samms also superbly shows how hard it is for Vance to stay by Lenny’s side during all this. The question of whether love really is enough is brought to mind. And is it domestic violence if the guy doing the hitting is really terribly damaged and doesn’t intend to hurt his lover? I say yes, definitely. There is never an excuse for hitting a lover or partner, male or female. But the internal struggle Vance takes us on is insightful. If he gives up on Lenny, he’ll be reinforcing all the negative feelings Lenny has about himself, and he’ll be one more in a series of losses in Lenny’s life. This could be the loss that pushes him over the edge.
As a backdrop to all this you have two musicians from very different genres who have put their respective careers on hold. Those of you who are creative types know that your creativity is a part of who you are. If it is left to die, part of you goes away with it. Vance and Lenny both have to decide how much of a role their music will play in their lives going forward. This is, of course, complicated by intermingling relationships of friends, shared mangers and ex-lovers…
Off Stage: In The Wings was a good book. It left enough open-ended that a third in the series is a possibility. I might even say a probability. If there is a third, I will be right there ordering it.
You can buy Off Stage: In the Wings here: