I'm thrilled to be a stop on the blog tour for Bring Me Back by Karen Booth. I loved this book so much! I have a guest post from Karen and I'm psyched about it! It's fabulous! Karen is graciously offering a digital version of any of her back list to one lucky commenter! Yea! To enter, just leave me a comment telling me about your teenage rock star crush!
And there's also my review. ;) Enjoy!
Music critic Claire Abby is a single mom dreading her daughter’s departure for college and worried that turning forty will leave her career running on fumes. She’s floored when she lands a Rolling Stone cover story on 80s British rock legend Christopher Penman. She spent her teenage years fantasizing he was her boyfriend.
In person, Christopher is everything Claire feared he’d be—charming, witty and unwilling to address the rumors he’s dodged for a decade. Still, she contains her adolescent fantasies and manages to earn his trust, unearthing the truth and the devastating secret behind it. His blockbuster story is her first priority when she returns home, a nearly impossible task when Christopher starts calling and flirting. She knows she should maintain a professional distance. She knows she should focus on the story. She knows it would be best to simply walk away. But how can she say “no” to the man she could never forget?
Guest Post by Karen Booth
Rock Star Love
Soon after I finished writing my latest novel, Bring Me Back, I traveled to New York to the Writer’s Digest Conference and attended an event called Pitch Slam. It’s basically a cattle roundup of writers. I believe there were over 750 of us. We were herded into a tiny ballroom occupied by fewer than 50 literary agents. The set-up from there was simple. We had 90 seconds to pitch our book to an agent, and they have 90 seconds to respond with feedback. A bell rings (a cowbell, no less) and you get in another line for another agent. It was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done.
I did okay on my first two tries, but the third agent caught me off guard. I explained the premise of my book—Claire Abby, a music journalist and single mom, meets and falls in love with Christopher Penman, the British rock star she was obsessed with in high school, twenty years later.
The agent nodded, seemed to think for a moment, and then replied, “Have you ever had a relationship with a rock star?”
My response? “I dabbled.”
I admit I was pretty proud of myself. I’m the girl who can never think of a witty comeback on the fly. It’s always two days later when it finally hits me. And it was true. I had dabbled, even though it was an astoundingly pathetic attempt.
The agent’s response? “Most rock star stories don’t seem believable to me, so I’m going to pass.”
I followed the call of the cowbell to my next stop, grumbling under my breath. What I really wanted to do was stand in her line again and sit down and explain to her right then and there that my story was believable, that I’d put a lot of work into making it believable. And why? Because it could happen.
Sure, most of us who have pined for rock stars are not going to end up with one, but that’s math. It’s no different than being genetically blessed with height befitting a super model or winning the lottery. It won’t happen to most of us, but it will happen to some of us, and that’s where the fantasy lives.
First off, you have to remember that rock stars are just people, they put on the leather pants one leg at a time and have just as many hang-ups and insecurities as the rest of us. They merely happen to live spectacularly while wrestling their demons. If they’re smart, they make an entire career out of turning those demons into songs, but at the end of the day, they’re just like the rest of us.
Our society loves to put celebrities on a pedestal, and while I wholeheartedly agree that talented people should be rewarded for their hard work, it creates this really peculiar barrier. It must be terribly lonely and isolating to be famous, knowing that most people want to be around you because you’re famous, not because you’re you. I think that’s the reason why many rock stars end up with other famous people, a partner who understands the trap of fame. Surprise, surprise. Many of those relationships ultimately fail. You can’t build a relationship on circumstances. It must be built on love.
That’s why I think it’s perfectly reasonable for a story about a rock star falling for a regular person to feel real. In Bring Me Back, Christopher has been through a messy divorce from a woman who wanted nothing more than to benefit from his fame. He’s had years of the so-called perks of celebrity—every last artificial bit. He’s tired of it. He wants something real, with a woman who will love him for who he is, not what he is. He wants to be able to do “normal” everyday things, because that’s what he’s been missing out on. You know the saying about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence? It works both ways.
Christopher’s fame and failed marriage have kept him from having a family, something he deeply regrets. He envies Claire for the close relationship she has with her daughter. He wants to be part of that, to feel love as it was intended, pure and completely outside the spotlight. That’s what we all want, isn’t it? Even a rock star.
I'm going to share something with y'all...I was ecstatic to be reading a book where the MCs are my age! :) And, I also had this weird coincidental display of physical mannerisms with Claire - one where I'd do something like pull on my bottom lip or flip my hair behind my shoulder...right before reading that she just did the same thing!
Anyway, this was rather refreshing to read following my last few reads. That's not to say it didn't have its angsty moments. But I delighted in this tale of a woman who's approaching 40 and gets to live out her teenage fantasy of meeting her ultimate teenaged crush.
Now, I didn't chair any fan clubs for bands when I was a teenage but I certainly crushed on some rock stars - Simon Le Bon or Bono anyone?!? Claire Abby's dreamboat was one Christopher Penman; the guitarist for the band Banks Forest. She had very elaborate fantasies of this man including sex in the clouds requiring no birth control.
Nineteen years later, she's a music critic and she's just been offered the chance of a lifetime. Christopher Penman has had a rough go over the past several years. He's endured a nasty divorce and a failed attempt at a solo career. He's now getting his life together and is set to release another solo record. In an attempt for good publicity, he's agreed to an exclusive interview. He never dreamed the sparks would fly - in a good way for once - between himself and his interviewer.
A beautiful romance blossoms between Claire and Chris - one that is allowed to bloom slowly. There are bumps along the way, such as the need to keep their relationship under wraps until the article is published. However, they make their way over every obstacle - eventually - and Claire's dream comes true. The best part, though, is that it's not all dreamy. It's not a glam story about a rock star's life...it's real life and it's very poignant.
One element that makes this story so enjoyable is the cast of supporting characters. Claire's daughter, Sam, is a pistol! And as a mother of a teenage daughter and a soon-to-be teenage daughter - well, although there are some eye-popping moments, I do hope to have and maintain an open relationship with my daughters like the one between Claire and Sam. Claire's dad is such a grumpy old man who's always sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. But he always means well. Even Chris' bandmate Graham was a hoot!
Overall, I adored this book. The title would seem to imply something along the lines of Chris career being revived. However, I feel it's more about real love bringing Chris and Claire to life. And it's a lovely reveal. :)
Don't miss the other stops on the tour!