Book Title: Reluctant Rockstar
Author and Publisher: Frances Fox
Cover Artist: Frances Fox
Release Date: August 1, 2023
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance, MM Rockstar Romance
Tropes: hurt-comfort, found family, oblivious MC
Themes: gardening-as-therapy, finding yourself, rock band, mild D/s
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 24 000 words/ 95 pages
It is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.
A tired rock star and a judgemental gardener…what could possibly go wrong?
The Purple Lizards are a rock world phenomenon, but lead singer Martin’s tired of his rock-and-roll persona. He’d rather be at home with his garden. When he gets home from tour he finds his gardener has had a heart attack and Simon, his grandson, is helping him out. Simon’s different to Fred. He talks, for a start. Martin and Fred have a perfectly functional friendship based on long silences and discussions about heritage vegetables. Simon talks about personal things as well. It makes Martin prickly.
Simon’s at a bit of a loss. He stepped up to help his grandfather whilst he was in hospital despite his misgivings about the absent Martin. But Fred clearly likes him, which is unusual. Fred prefers plants to people. That he actively likes a rock star who used to smash up hotel rooms is really strange. Simon’s reserving judgement. Apparently the band have a break in their tour coming up. He’ll see whether he can work for the man once he’s spent some time with him.
A tired rock star and a judgemental gardener…what could possibly go wrong?
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It was a huge relief to finally be home, Martin thought, as he made his way back up to the house. He’d dumped his bags in the hall and gone straight out to find Fred for a dose of reality and to get some dirt on his fingers. Instead he’d found Simon and scared himself stupid for a moment, thinking something had happened to his old friend. He understood the impulse not to bother him whilst he was on tour…but it wasn’t as if a heart attack was a minor issue.
He stepped over his bags and went to put the kettle on and peer into the fridge. Simon had told him that Moira had furnished him with a shopping list and instructions in her absence. He seemed a really nice kid. Although…he wasn’t a kid, he must be as old as or older than Pete Heggarty, in his late twenties. Only ten or twelve years younger than Martin. And just as knowledgeable about plants and vegetables as Fred.
Kind, as well. He’d seen he’d given Martin a shock and done his best to cushion it after the fact. He’d been calm and competent and given Martin the space he’d needed to get himself together again. Martin appreciated that. He seemed to spend all his time this tour being the person who sorted things out and looked after other people. It had been nice to have someone else do that for him, however briefly.
Part of the shock had been finding out about Fred. But part of it had been a weird sort of paralysis as he took in the man standing before him. A bit taller than Martin with mousy-blonde hair, Simon had the most piercing, indigo-coloured eyes Martin had ever seen.
He wasn’t a believer in being struck dumb by desire…it was a ridiculous concept. But for a moment there…he’d almost believed it could happen. Simon’s eyes… And he was fit in the way someone who did manual work was fit. No gym-rat body, just all over tone from what Martin had seen through his T-shirt and jeans.
Martin didn’t bother fancying people. When he wanted sex, he went out to one of a few discreet clubs he was a member of and got what he needed from someone he trusted to give it to him with no strings attached. Outside of that…he switched it off. His wiring wasn’t exactly straightforward, he knew. Outside the bedroom, he was a perfectly normal bloke. But inside, once the door closed, the temptation to give up control to his partner was always there. Given his choice of career…casual encounters were risky. It wasn’t that he never had them. But increasingly it felt like there was a disconnect between his sex life and who he was the rest of the time.
The last time he’d dated seriously had been more than a decade ago and although it hadn’t been a disaster, it had petered out into nothing with them both wanting different things in and out of bed. A couple of casual encounters where he’d felt too vulnerable and as if he was giving too much of himself away and he’d started seriously compartmentalising.
And so there he was in the greenhouse, startled into silence by his new employee’s indigo eyes and a conversation about heritage aubergines. He laughed at himself as he got out the makings of a ham sandwich. He should go and see Fred after he had something to eat. Simon had said he was champing at the bit with frustration, wanting to come back to work. Far too soon, the doctors—and Moira, who was the one who really counted—had said. But perhaps one of them could drive him up and he could sit down and supervise—code for boss about—Simon and Martin as they got to grips with whatever needed to be done.
Martin didn’t think Simon needed much supervision, to be honest. He didn’t either these days. He liked working with Fred. They’d fallen into a kind of silent harmony over the years. Martin told him a bit about the weird shit that happened on tour—he’d been looking forward to sharing the saga of Ken’s attempted blackmail and how it had backfired on him so badly. And telling him about how he’d found out Pete Heggarty slept with his violin.
He didn’t know whether he’d want to chat with Simon like that…but having another person around who was interested in the garden and the project itself was intriguing.
He hadn’t felt intrigued with anything for quite a while.
5 out of 5 (exceptional)
Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Usually I write a little blurby bit, but I'm not going to here, I'm gonna jump straight in!
Cos, this book right?? It's so freaking good!
It's not ever so smexy, but it has passion and emotion. It's not explicit but it has steam! There isn't much drama, save for the idiot ex-manager and Martin making his decision. It's not very long, some 95 pages, but I'll come back to that bit shortly.
And all that is why I loved this book! Finding yourself after such a long time is what this is all about and Martin, once he makes the decision he does, he and Simon are a couple, after such a short space of time, and Martin leaving to finish what he needs to do gives them time to miss each other, even though they are in constant contact.
Back to the length of this book. I would probably have said, as I've done before, that this book is too short. However, I don't think this particular book would work as a longer piece, I really don't. It's the perfect page length for this story, for Simon and Martin to fall in love.
It's full of emotion and love, and gave me the biggest warm and fuzzies feeling I've had in a long time!
First I can see of this author, I want more if they are all this cute!
5 full and shiny stars
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book; the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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