Published July 29, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Format: e-book, purchased
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4 STARS
(From Goodreads) As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it's booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.
Lena's not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.
Jimmy, lead singer for the rock band Stage Dive, has been a mysterious enigma since we met him in Lick (Stage Dive #1). In that book, he was a hot mess (emphasis on HOT). It was obvious that substance abuse was an every day hobby for him. Because of it and a whole lot of hurt in his past, Jimmy was a veritable asshat who treated everyone around him horribly. At the end of book 1, Jimmy made the choice to go to rehab and get clean once and for all.
To help him with that journey, he hires Lena to be a live-in sobriety counselor/assistant/secretary. Lena is escaping her own family problems when the job falls in her lap. She is a super strong woman who takes crap from no one - not even smoking hot rock stars, which is why she was kind of perfect for the job of dealing with a rich, broody, recovering addict. And, for awhile, even though she and Jimmy were living in the same house, Lena was able to keep the lines between her job and her personal life clearly defined.
Then, someone close to Jimmy dies and he needs more than an assistant. He needs a real friend, and Lena is the closest person he has to one. That one event completely veered their relationship off course, at least for Lena. She starts feeling things for Jimmy, no matter how hard she tried not to. So, she tries to nip it in the bud and quit before things get out of hand. Jimmy, however, has grown used to her company and refuses to let her go, convincing Lena that he can make it so she doesn't like him like that anymore. His efforts, though, seem to push her in the opposite direction, and soon Lena has fallen in love with Jimmy.
I spent a lot of time while reading Lead yelling at my Kindle. Literally. Yelling. Jimmy and Lena were both completely infuriating, but for different reasons. I expected Jimmy to be a difficult jerk. I would've liked it better if he had consistently acted that way. However, Jimmy would have these moments that completely endeared me to him. He would do or say something to Lena that was so sweet, or he and Lena would snark back and forth and I would laugh and think they were perfect together.
And, then in the next moment, he would insult her or be completely insensitive. When Lena would express her feelings to him - especially how she felt for him - he would blow her off and make light of them. It made me feel so badly for Lena. It seemed to break her heart a little more every time that Jimmy crapped all over her wants and desires.
On Lena's side, she seemed to handle Jimmy well most of the time, but there were many times when I wished she would've just stood up for herself more. It seemed that Jimmy and the rest of the band used guilt to make her stick around, saying that Jimmy would fall off the wagon if Lena really quit. And of course because she loved him and wanted to see him succeed in his sobriety, she fell for it every time. Jimmy would invade her personal space, horn in on her personal life, and force her to do things she didn't really want to do, and Lena would sit back and take it every. single. time. Just once, I wanted her to really put her foot down and say NO. And stick to it!
Lead was a bit atypical from most new adult books I read, in that, at 60% through the book, Jimmy and Lena hadn't even kissed yet, much less anything more. There were times between them that the sexual tension was there, but most of the time, it was the possibility of more between them that drove me onward. I just knew there had to be a breaking point where Jimmy would finally give in and deem himself worthy of receiving and giving love, and I knew when that happened it would be good.
And, yes, it was good. When Jimmy and Lena finally - FINALLY - came together in every sense of the word, it was explosive and everything I had been waiting for. I loved it and everything that came after it. Of course things don't run smoothly between them after that. You can't fix someone like Jimmy that fast. But, Lena finally locates her backbone, and it turns out it was exactly what Jimmy really needed from her.
One of the best things about the Stage Dive series is that, since the four guys in this group are so close and spend so much time together, we always know what the couples from previous books are up to. There was a lot of David and Ev and Mal and Anne. We get a hint of things to come from Ben (and, I'm guessing, Lizzy, Anne's sister).
I loved getting to the heart of Jimmy, since he's the lead of the band. Lead was a great story and the ending was amazing. I can't wait to see what's in store for Ben next.
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