VIP – BOOK 3
By Kristen Callihan
Release Day – Oct 23, 2018
5 Mint Thief CROWNS
Words evade me for this review. Is it a romance? It is. Is it filled with steam and chemistry? Yes. Slow burn, but yes. I truly feel, though, that the romance is so woven into the examination of mental health that it becomes a story that the romance almost becomes secondary to it all.
To avoid spoilers, let’s just say that Jax struggles with mental health. The way Kristen Callihan depicts his struggles reads authentically . She shows not only the ups and downs but also the shame and guilt that comes with it. She exemplifies the fear and the anxiety and everything that goes into it. His counterpart, Stella, has her own insecurities about being alone, and their loneliness calls to one another. Now is this story all about mental health and insecurities? No. There are many moments of joy, of happiness, and of fun. Callihan gives us moments with the band where we get to see family and camaraderie. We get the slow burn build up between Jax and Stella with wonderful banter. We get to see real love bloom through acceptance and understanding. Jax and Stella are real, a true look of what love is like or should be like, finding perfection in the imperfect.
Fall is everything I could have wanted from this book. Jax got the story he deserved. The way Callihan wrote made my heart break and my brain gain a better understanding of an illness I have no experience with. It is didactic and romantic. The way she twists these two components together makes it worthy of all the CROWNS.
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
The first time I met Jax Blackwood things went a little sideways.
In my defense, I didn’t know he was Jax Blackwood—who expects a legendary rock star to be shopping for groceries? More importantly, a blizzard was coming and he was about to grab the last carton of mint-chocolate chip.
Still, I might have walked away, but then he smugly dared me to try and take the coveted ice cream. So I kissed him. And distracted that mint-chip right out of his hands.
Okay, it was a dirty move, but desperate times and all that. Besides, I never expected he’d be my new neighbor.
An annoying neighbor who takes great pleasure in reminding me that I owe him ice cream but would happily accept more kisses as payment. An irresistible neighbor who keeps me up while playing guitar naked–spectacularly naked–in his living room.
Clearly, avoidance is key. Except nothing about Jax is easy to ignore—not the way he makes me laugh, or that his particular brand of darkness matches mine, or how one look from him melts me faster than butter under a hot sun.
Neither of us believes in love or forever. Yet we’re quickly becoming each other’s addiction. But we could be more. We could be everything.
All we have to do is trust enough to fall.
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I clear my throat. “While I was eating my ice cream—”
He snorts, but remains tense.
“I thought about how you looked familiar to me.”
“It was the guilt haunting you.”
“Or … And I’m just throwing this out there. You’re Jax Blackwood.”
He actually flinches. “Fuck. You recognized me.”
“It was bound to happen. John? Really?”
His chin tips in a pugnacious angle. “It’s my name. John is … me. Jax is who I am onstage.”
I picture him performing, all electric energy and raw passion and sheer talent. It’s a sight to behold. Hell, a couple of really hot fantasies have been induced by that sight.
While I’m lost in a teen fantasy, his eyes dart around like he’s expecting someone to pop out from behind a snow mound and take his picture. Then his gaze snags on me. My expression must be slightly punch drunk, because his entire body leans away from mine. Not exactly flattering to realize he’s afraid I’ll try to lick his face or something.
I snap my gaping mouth closed. “Oh, calm down. It’s not like I’m going to start squealing and try to grab your junk.”
His expression lightens a little. “I think if you grabbed my junk, I’d be the one squealing.”
“True. I have surprisingly strong hands.” When he stares at me in horror, I hold them up and wiggle my fingers. “Yoga. It’s highly effective.”
“My balls just flinched in terror.”
“Consider yourself warned.”
He snorts but then glances at our building. “You really live here?”
“Do you really think I hunted you down?”
John—because I can’t seem to think of him as Jax—runs his hand through his damp hair, which makes his biceps bunch and twitch. “Yeah … that does sound crazy.”
Crazy. This whole situation is. One day, I’m offered a four-month home in a dream condo, the next I’m standing on my stoop talking to a rock star. The biggest legend of my generation. I honestly don’t know how I’m not stammering right now.
“I can’t believe we’re neighbors,” I say without thinking.
His green eyes glint in the afternoon light, but he pauses and looks at me more closely. “You know, not to sound conceited here, but you’re kind of leering at me right now.”
My chin snaps up like I’ve been hit, even as my body flushes with embarrassment. Shit. I totally had been leering. No, not leering. But I had been staring at him in awe. Ugh. “Well, you do sound conceited. I was simply making polite eye contact.”
About the Author:
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.