Pop Life by Ryan Loveless

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

PopLifeLGPop Life by Ryan Loveless
Release Date: April 13, 2016
Pages: 200 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
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2nd Edition

Andrew writes the songs everyone sings along with on the radio—tunes full of love, longing, and heartbreak. He has a knack for tapping into emotions, but when it comes to his own, the feelings aren’t so easy to manage. Sent to New York City to work on Irish singer Paeder Brogan’s first solo album, Andrew is caught in the middle of a boy band’s infighting and secret love affairs while battling the memories of his last trip to the Big Apple, which ended when English pop star Jamie Webster drunkenly kissed him.

Andrew’s heart leaps when he discovers he’s staying at the same hotel as Jamie, yet he doubts Jamie recalls him, even though Andrew wrote his biggest hit. Jamie remembers him, though, and he seems to think Andrew is the only person who can save him from his downward spiral. Even as his feelings for Jamie swell, Andrew faces the real threat that the maelstrom he’s walked into will pull him down alongside Jamie.

First Edition published by Silver Publishing, 2011.

four-stars 

This was my first Ryan Loveless and I am hooked on her writing.

Pop Life… this book was what I needed after coming off a funk where I thought my reading mojo was gone. It wasn’t gone, it was just waiting for a book to come alone and make me fall in love again.

Pop Life takes place in 1999 and I really enjoyed the past articles from fan magazines etc. that we got. They lent to the story with a sort of authenticity to keep bringing you back to the reality that these men, they all live in a world that really is held to a different standard because of celebrity status. Not that it’s right nor wrong, just different.

Told from the POV of one Andrew Bennett, we meet him as he is discussing the travel arrangements to New York with his writing partner Michael. Andrew and Michael are a successful song writing duo who are now at the beck and call of boy band, Icon’s member who is branching out and going solo. Paeder, the boy bander going solo has requested Andrew’s presence and Andrew just happens to be needed in New York for his cousins wedding, so off he goes.

When Andrew is picked up in New York by Russell and Keelin, the other boys in Icon they pass by numerous posters announcing a concert for Jamie Webster. From here we begin to get the small back story of Andrew and Jamie. How Andrew and Michael wrote a hit song for Jamie, how Andrew met Jamie backstage at the Grammy’s and how a drunken kiss changed everything for Andrew.

On the surface this book can seem pretty light but there are other issues lurking, some between the line,  that bring about angst teetering on depression. Andrew is dealing with the decline and end of his marriage and how he never put his wife, Kate first. He loved her from when they were very young and always wanted her but once they were married, his career took off and Kate, was often pushed to the background. She’d accused him more than once of loving his career and his partner Michael more than her and one night, she walked out.

Andrew is also dealing with his sexuality and how one kiss from Jamie can bring up memories of other boys from his past. Andrew never declares his sexuality through the book, nor do the others who are obviously bisexual with their actions and I really liked that. There was never an issue of having sex with a man or woman for Andrew, Paeder or Jamie, it’s just how they were. I think the fluid sexuality though the book was a major plus for me.

Anyway, back to the story.

So Andrew is in New York checking into his hotel and he is told he’s been assigned to private floor by someone. That someone shows up in the elevator with Andrew and surprise, surprise it’s Jamie. I adored these two from the get to. They were adorable with one another, how they flirted yet were so sincere and honest about where they stood. Jamie has a lot of issues he’s dealing with and Andrew is the one that he trusts, the one who makes him feel safe and well… the one, if only he’d let himself go completely.

I loved being in Andrews head and I loved the way he saw Jamie. Andrew is a good guy and although he wants Jamie, he tries to put up boundaries with him while trying to pull him in closer. The realtionship with Andrew and Jamie was not an easy one but I fell hard for it. I liked Jamie too. I liked the way he felt he knew Andrew through the songs he wrote for him and how they made him want to know Andrew better. I love music and I can tell you there are songs that move me, that as cheesy as it sounds touch my soul and I can’t imagine meeting the person or persons who wrote that. When songs are emotional, when they have that depth… yeah, that is something and I love the “gift” Jamie gives Andrew.

I don’t know if it was just the right time for me to read this but I couldn’t put it down. I have a soft spot for stories about addiction, regardless of the drug chosen and feel that the addicts and the ones who choose to love them, are a special breed. Does that makes sense? Oh well, to me it does.

There are a few side stories within this story that bring drama to the table. For me, I loved the wicked weave of lies and mistrust between Jeff, Jamie, Keelin, Russell, Diane and Paeder. I guessed one deal early on but the rest of it, I just let it play out on the page and hoped that someone in this group would get their crap together.

Goodness.

I’m rambling and the word count it getting higher so I’ll stop now.

Pop Life… *sigh* I really, really liked this story that was more than a romance between two men. It was a complex character study of celebrity in a way and a study of those who are committed to their jobs and to those they value. It’s a story of trusting the wrong people and keeping them around for convenience or habit and ultimately having both diminish your self-worth. It’s a story about failing, about forgiveness and the fortitude to put yourself out there and give it all another try.

About Ryan Loveless

Ryan Loveless is a farmer’s daughter. She has a BA in English from a private college in Illinois and a master’s degree in library and information science with an archival certificate from a university in New York. Raised in a conservative family, she was shocked and relieved when her coming out was largely uneventful. She has been writing since she could read and has always drifted toward M/M because she enjoys the relationship dynamics. It’s possible that her first story was about GI Joe. She wishes she still had that story.

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