I went into this after reading the blurb thinking “ooooh, angsty brooding rockstar! GIMMIE” and I will say there is most definitely angsty brooding rockstar, but that just scratches the surfaces of what Down Beat truly is. Yes, you still get an epic romance. Yes, you still get steamy deliciousness. But I want to say the most important thing you get out of Rey and Tabby’s story is the raw, true, powerfully emotional look at living with mental illness.
As people slowly, and I mean really friggin’ slowly, start to accept mental illness as something that shouldn’t be swept under the rug I still feel like there aren’t many truly relatable characters out there especially in romance that some one dealing with a mental illness can read and think “I get that. I’ve been there. I’m not alone. This character has my voice.” Max Henry gives us that in Rey. More importantly she gives Rey to people who don’t know what it’s like to feel that way and that is something I’m truly grateful for. I don’t have the exact same diagnosis as this character, but frankly it doesn’t matter. With the stigma still surrounding all mental illness I’ve spent the vast majority of my life since I was a young teenager with my diagnosis used as a joke. I personally have OCD and a separate anxiety disorder. Two terms that are now so casually used as a laughing way to describe everyday habits that no one really understands what living with the weight of it is. So while I personally don’t feel the same struggle as Rey, I fully feel his feelings of being misunderstood and a burden.
Rey and Tabby’s story is so emotionally charged. Epic highs and epic lows giving you a deeper understanding of not just Rey’s struggles but the struggles of loving him and learning together how to get through life. These two have a true, bone deep, love that moved me to tears more than once. Most of the time I find myself reading romance for the “fairytale” aspect of it. I’m an alpha loving instalove junkie, the sweeter the better. But Down Beat will go forever on my all time favorites list because even though this book gave me all I love about romance it was REAL. There is no making this pretty or softening the truth in this book, just real,powerful ,flawed, yet endlessly beautiful love.
started without us.” The dark-haired cocky bastard from before makes a show of
moving my road case so he can sit in the seat adjacent to mine.
guy who offered to help me carry it heads for the counter, and is immediately assailed
by some desperate woman with a napkin.
really something, huh?” I muse as I lift my coffee to take a sip.
think so.” His gaze bores into mine despite the fact the horn bag with the
napkin is lining him up in her sights. “What kind of music do you play?”
what appears to be a staring contest while he formulates his answer; piercing
eyes fix firmly on me as I hold my coffee to my chest. His black hair is spiked
haphazardly, yet a few loose tendrils across his face give him the mysterious
edge that I imagine his groupies love. The T-shirt he wears is torn,
fashionably so, and just enough that I can get a glimpse as the ink he hides
coffee with a smirk.
forward, the studded cuff on his left wrist making a soft clink as it hits the
the horn bag breathes in one rushed syllable as she arrives at my table. “I
can’t believe you’re in here.”
asshole drags his gaze from me and smiles at her, laying on the charm. “Good
place to get a coffee, right?”
she gushes, oblivious to the intense standoff she interrupted.
and sip my latte, sizing up the woman. She seems to be in her late twenties,
early thirties at most. What surprises me is that she’s dressed like a soccer
mom. Not exactly what I’d expect a fan of a man kitted out in denim, leather,
and enough chains to rival a prison warden to look like.
me any room?” He takes the napkin from her, brushing his fingers over hers.
damn near comes on the spot. Slick move,
there’s a space up here.” And in one swift move, Soccer Mom transforms to
Desperate Housewife with the tilt of her hips. The blouse that mere seconds ago
demurely hid her assets now hangs like a slack sail in the Dead Sea, giving the
cocky asshole to my left the perfect view of her ample tits.
I ever turn into one of those.
He takes the pen she offers and then scratches a quick message for her like he
probably has a million times before.
with her smile a little wider, and her panties more than likely a darn sight
me.” I pull my phone out, amused to find him frowning at me in my periphery.
you doing?” He leans closer to see my screen, wafting what has to be pure
pheromones under my nostrils. How the
fuck do they make men’s cologne so addictive?
googling your name, since you won’t introduce yourself properly.”
the rich sound traveling throughout the shop as his bandmate, Kris, returns
with a table number.
you have like a private coffee shop, or something?” I sass. “Don’t celebrities
like you get places shut down so they can drink in peace?” The result comes up
on my screen, along with an assortment of very hot performance shots. Damn, this man can rock studs.
kidding right?” Kris mumbles to the cocky asshole.
think so.” He smiles at me, leaning back casually in his seat. “I can’t believe
you don’t know my name.” The jerk spreads his legs wide, a denim-clad knee
perilously close to my thigh.
know every stranger you meet’s name?” I lift an eyebrow at him. “Rey?”
not a stranger.” Fucker still smiles. “I haven’t had to introduce myself for
the past four and half years.”
first made Billboard,” Kris adds quietly.
He’s not in-your-face like this jackass to my left. He’s quiet, humble even. He actually makes me want to hold a
conversation with him.
other hand…. “You’re a little full of yourself, aren’t you?”
behind his linked hands, elbows on the table.
wiggles a pierced eyebrow.
to be shitting me,” I mumble, looking away.
answered my question, Tabitha,” Rey
taunts. “Or can I call you Tabby, since you’re like a wild cat, all claws and
smile at his comment… almost.
I look back at the guy, pissed at myself for recognizing that he is in fact
pretty damn good-looking. Bastard. “And
I play classical. A little bit of crossover.”
Rey looks like he’s fit to burst. “People still listen to that?”
I give him a hard stare, and then shift focus to Kris. “In all honesty, I am
surprised you two don’t have security or some kind of protection if you’re that
inked finger and points to a burly guy outside the shop. If I didn’t know
better, I’d think the man was Joe Public. He’s big, sure, but he’s dressed in
sweats and a T-shirt. No earpiece, no Secret Service-style shades. He just
his name’s Pete,” Kris mumbles. “He turned up late. Hence why you got in.”
our normal crew,” Rey fills in. “Hired while we’re in town.”
Frustrated by how quickly the conversation has turned comfortable, I redirect
back to the issue at hand. “Can I ask why you’re at my table?”
coffee.” Rey shrugs.
got off on the wrong foot.” He wrinkles his nose. It’s cute. No it’s not. Focus, Tab.
blame me for that.” I take a nonchalant sip of my coffee… and promptly choke on
a bubble of foam that gets stuck on the roof of my mouth near my throat. Slick.
blame us, either,” Rey retorts.
back or anything. Just unable to breathe for a beat there, but you just take it
organized the whole thing,” he finishes, unfazed by the tears teetering on the
rims of my eyes.
Kris. I am now. Thanks.” I wipe the moisture away before I end up looking
bat-shit crazy with mascara down my face.
glare at Rey.
accent. You’re not American.”
muppet a slow clap.
nostrils flare when a few customers look across at our table. “Are you
palm to stop him. “Don’t say it.”
dare assume I’m Australian. There’s more than one country down there, you
at me, blank. Fuck my life.
him out here.” I down the last of my coffee.
Zealand,” he murmurs to Rey.
face stays blank as a clean slate.
heard of it, right?” I ask.
I have,” he scoffs.
didn’t know where it was.”
and damn it all if that doesn’t make me do so too. Stay strong. I can’t fawn over this guy like every other female on
the planet, not when my objective is to make his life hell. Not that I know how I’m going to do that
was never my thing,” he explains as Kendall brings their drinks over.
Rey’s down first, and then throws me a sneaky look behind his back before
setting Kris’s before him.
me her don’t test me eye, and then
announce, pushing my empty cup to the middle of the table. “This has been
swell, guys, but I really must press on.”
halfway to my feet before a strong hand to my thigh shunts me back in the
chair. Holy hell, that was intense.
stirs his coffee, eyes on the amber swirl. “I’m not finished with you yet.”
with her family in beautiful and sunny Queensland, Australia.
although she may not write as often as she would like, Max wouldn’t change a
brain-storming through a session with the weights. If not, she’s probably out
drooling over one of many classic cars on show that she wishes she owned.