A MelanieM Review:Strike a Chord (Replay #4) by K.M. Neuhold

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

“You want to fake date me?”

Music is my life, my band is my heart and soul, and it’s all falling apart before my eyes.

A plan hatched from desperation as we both watch our careers burn down around us. Dating my best friend’s twin brother, Paris, who just so happens to be a gay icon at the moment seems like the perfect plan. And if we have a little fun along the way, where’s the harm in that? The band is spiraling, his football career is going up in flames, and the more the world falls down around us, the easier it is to get lost in each other.

But are stolen moments during our own busy schedules and hurried kisses hidden behind social media posts the basis for a real relationship, or is this just another thing that’s going to turn to dust in our hands?

**Strike a Chord is the fourth and final book in the Replay series. This series can be read in any order.

Tying up a series can always be a tricky business, especially if the series has rested its foundation on more than one couple.  In this case, its a band. K.M. Neuhold has stretched the arc over five books.  One a foundation story called Rock Bottom which shows the band Downward Spiral on the edge of imploding due to the personal problems of some of the band members after years of being together and incredible success. After that each band member gets their own story (which I have listed at the bottom of this review).  We see the band, their rise, each person’s demon’s and the SO, the relationship, the issues, and finally how it’s resolved for a HEA for that couple.  But the future of the band?  That’s left to this story and so is Benji, the last band member to get his HEA.

Strike a Chord (Replay #4) by K.M. Neuhold finally gets around to Benji, the “good” member of Downward Spiral, the one that can always be counted on not to bring the drama or any trouble, the stable one.  I am thrilled that Benji finally gets his time in the spotlight, his time to shine because he so deserves it.  Often the lowkey one in all the other stories, here Benji gets to take the stage and oh, my, how he takes command.

With his long flowing hair, elvish beauty, and lean body, Benji is gorgeous although in high school Paris initially thought mistook him for a pretty girl.  From the back at a locker in the hallway.    But that was the last time.  Then Benji turned around and Paris was lost.  And confused and totally in the closet until years later in the NFL.  Not so his twin brother Landon and Benji’s best friend also since high school.   Those two came out together, were inseparable until Benji and his band left for the road and success.

Strike a Chord begins with both men arriving almost at the same place in their careers and both dreading the future.  Benji believing his band will lose their contract and break up because of the deep personal issues of the others, including one back in the hospital and Paris ending his football career because of an injury and his age.  Neither knows exactly what is ahead of them or how to handle it.  Going home seems like the only answer for both.

The characterizations are quiet and fully realized.  I say quiet because while they lack the huge drama and specific medical or addiction issues of the others, the qualities of these men are no less compelling and real because they aren’t as angst driven as rest.  What starts off as a way to keep both men in the media while they figure out what happens next to themselves and their careers and lives becomes a believable and real relationship readers connect with.  It’s backed up by years of history between them so no case of instant love exists here. No, in fact the opposite exists, that both men have been in love with each other since high school and now, finally, get their chance at love and HEA.  After clearing up quite a few misconceptions and misunderstandings of course.

I enjoyed the Christmas family scenes (both families), the snow and the escape to the island paradise.  It was all so lovely and heartwarming. Just the delicious reconnection between them all over again?  Oh my word!   I read several passages over and over for the sweetness and the hotness combined.

The ending and the wrapup is everything I hoped for.  Sexy, all inclusive with all the band and their mates involved and happy ever after for all.  Every loose end tied up with a bow.  And awaiting some rice!  Yes, color me happy and recommending this book and this series.

If you love rock stars on a search for HEA, grab up this series.  Each member is very different and offers something for everyone as does their mate and storyline.  But I promise you each and every one gets their HEA and its a wonderful journey to take with them all the way to the end.  I loved every page of it.

Cover art is just not something I liked.  That’s not either mc.  Paris is a big brawny football player.  Benji?  Long flowing gold hair that is often up in a main bun, thin elvish gorgeous face and long, lean body.  Uh, no.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 216 pages
Published May 14th 2019
ASINB07RMZT7FN
Edition Language English
Series Replay #4

Replay Series with links to Goodreads:

Rock Bottom meet the band

Face the Music #1 Lincoln

Play it by Ear #2 Lando

Beat of Their Own Drum #3 Jude

Strike a Chord #4 Benji and the series finale

A MelanieM Review:Strike a Chord (Replay #4) by K.M. Neuhold

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

“You want to fake date me?”

Music is my life, my band is my heart and soul, and it’s all falling apart before my eyes.

A plan hatched from desperation as we both watch our careers burn down around us. Dating my best friend’s twin brother, Paris, who just so happens to be a gay icon at the moment seems like the perfect plan. And if we have a little fun along the way, where’s the harm in that? The band is spiraling, his football career is going up in flames, and the more the world falls down around us, the easier it is to get lost in each other.

But are stolen moments during our own busy schedules and hurried kisses hidden behind social media posts the basis for a real relationship, or is this just another thing that’s going to turn to dust in our hands?

**Strike a Chord is the fourth and final book in the Replay series. This series can be read in any order.

Tying up a series can always be a tricky business, especially if the series has rested its foundation on more than one couple.  In this case, its a band. K.M. Neuhold has stretched the arc over five books.  One a foundation story called Rock Bottom which shows the band Downward Spiral on the edge of imploding due to the personal problems of some of the band members after years of being together and incredible success. After that each band member gets their own story (which I have listed at the bottom of this review).  We see the band, their rise, each person’s demon’s and the SO, the relationship, the issues, and finally how it’s resolved for a HEA for that couple.  But the future of the band?  That’s left to this story and so is Benji, the last band member to get his HEA.

Strike a Chord (Replay #4) by K.M. Neuhold finally gets around to Benji, the “good” member of Downward Spiral, the one that can always be counted on not to bring the drama or any trouble, the stable one.  I am thrilled that Benji finally gets his time in the spotlight, his time to shine because he so deserves it.  Often the lowkey one in all the other stories, here Benji gets to take the stage and oh, my, how he takes command.

With his long flowing hair, elvish beauty, and lean body, Benji is gorgeous although in high school Paris initially thought mistook him for a pretty girl.  From the back at a locker in the hallway.    But that was the last time.  Then Benji turned around and Paris was lost.  And confused and totally in the closet until years later in the NFL.  Not so his twin brother Landon and Benji’s best friend also since high school.   Those two came out together, were inseparable until Benji and his band left for the road and success.

Strike a Chord begins with both men arriving almost at the same place in their careers and both dreading the future.  Benji believing his band will lose their contract and break up because of the deep personal issues of the others, including one back in the hospital and Paris ending his football career because of an injury and his age.  Neither knows exactly what is ahead of them or how to handle it.  Going home seems like the only answer for both.

The characterizations are quiet and fully realized.  I say quiet because while they lack the huge drama and specific medical or addiction issues of the others, the qualities of these men are no less compelling and real because they aren’t as angst driven as rest.  What starts off as a way to keep both men in the media while they figure out what happens next to themselves and their careers and lives becomes a believable and real relationship readers connect with.  It’s backed up by years of history between them so no case of instant love exists here. No, in fact the opposite exists, that both men have been in love with each other since high school and now, finally, get their chance at love and HEA.  After clearing up quite a few misconceptions and misunderstandings of course.

I enjoyed the Christmas family scenes (both families), the snow and the escape to the island paradise.  It was all so lovely and heartwarming. Just the delicious reconnection between them all over again?  Oh my word!   I read several passages over and over for the sweetness and the hotness combined.

The ending and the wrapup is everything I hoped for.  Sexy, all inclusive with all the band and their mates involved and happy ever after for all.  Every loose end tied up with a bow.  And awaiting some rice!  Yes, color me happy and recommending this book and this series.

If you love rock stars on a search for HEA, grab up this series.  Each member is very different and offers something for everyone as does their mate and storyline.  But I promise you each and every one gets their HEA and its a wonderful journey to take with them all the way to the end.  I loved every page of it.

Cover art is just not something I liked.  That’s not either mc.  Paris is a big brawny football player.  Benji?  Long flowing gold hair that is often up in a main bun, thin elvish gorgeous face and long, lean body.  Uh, no.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 216 pages
Published May 14th 2019
ASINB07RMZT7FN
Edition Language English
Series Replay #4

Replay Series with links to Goodreads:

Rock Bottom meet the band

Face the Music #1 Lincoln

Play it by Ear #2 Lando

Beat of Their Own Drum #3 Jude

Strike a Chord #4 Benji and the series finale

A Lila Review: Beat of Their Own Drum (Replay #3) by KM Neuhold

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Jude
Every rock band needs their bad boy, right? That’s me. Hookers, drugs, DUIs— been there, done that. I’m in a Downward Spiral and proud of it (see what I did there?). When the band manager, Archer, hires Bennett to keep me from screwing up while the band is on hiatus, I may have finally met someone who won’t take my attitude lying down. With the three of us cooped up together for weeks on end, I have a feeling things might get interesting.Archer
Downward Spiral is my baby. Not only am I the band manager, I discovered them ten years ago when they were nothing but a bunch of high school kids playing in a hole in the wall bar on the weekends. But it’s obvious I haven’t done a great job because they’re falling apart. If the lead singer isn’t trying to kill himself, it’s the bass player telling me he can’t write any new songs. And no one gets under my skin more than Jude, who seems determined to snort and drink himself into an early grave. There’s only one man I can think of who might be able to get Jude back on the right track, Bennett Schmitt. Unfortunately, he’s also the man I let get away sixteen years ago and haven’t gotten over since.

Bennett
If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s taking control of a situation. In fact, control is kind of my thing. Which is probably why I’m the best in the business when it comes to getting out of control celebrities back on track. When my ex calls and tells me he’s desperate for my help, I can’t turn him down. Between the infuriatingly sexy drummer with no idea what kind of trouble he’s asking for, and my ex looking better than ever, there’s no way this isn’t about to get messy.

Beat of Their Own Drum is much more than I expected. I didn’t realize this book was part of a series until I requested it for review. Based on the blurb, it can be read as a standalone but I will recommend to read the books in order. They are parallel to each other and worth reading. Each guy in the band has a great story.

So far, this is the only MMM in the series, which I love. I do have some mixed feelings, though. Not about their relationship but about Jude’s treatment. At times it became inconsequential, reducing their relationship to sub & Dom instead of counselor and patient. That’s the main reason why this book is not a perfect five stars for me.

As for their love story, I really enjoyed how each men had a separate relationship with each other. Also, how they complemented their strengths as a triad. There’s love, fun, mischief, and heartache. All three men had trouble adjusting to their new reality but did their best for the other two.

I need to accept that Archer was my favorite. I love overachievers with a heart of gold. Plus, he needed a little saving of his own. Just add some Daddy kink and he becomes perfection.

This is definitely a great Rock n Roll, hurt comfort story. It’s sexy and heartbreaking. With lots of hot men and great friendships. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, from a new for me author.

The cover by Ink Design follows the series and goes well with the story and the characters.

Sale Link: Kindle Unlimited

Book Details:
ebook, 380 pages
ASIN: B07KC7G6WX
Published: November 12, 2018, by K.M. Neuhold
Edition Language: English

Series: Replay
Book #1: Face the Music
Book #2: Play It By Ear
Book #3: Beat of Their Own Drum

Love a LIttle Rock n Roll with your Romance? Check out Beat of Their Own Drum (Replay #3) by KM Neuhold (excerpt and giveaway)

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BEAT OF THEIR OWN DRUM

REPLAY SERIES, BOOK 3

K.M. NEUHOLD

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 11.08.18

Beat of their own drum cover

BLURB

Jude

Every rock band needs their bad boy. Hookers, drugs, DUIs— been there, done that. I’m in a Downward Spiral and proud of it (see what I did there?). When the band manager, Archer, hires Bennett to keep me from screwing up while the band is on hiatus, I may have finally met someone who won’t take my attitude lying down. With the three of us cooped up together for weeks on end, I have a feeling things might get interesting.

Archer

Downward Spiral is my baby. Not only am I the band manager, I discovered them ten years ago when they were nothing but a bunch of high school kids playing in a hole in the wall bar on the weekends. But it’s obvious I haven’t done a great job because they’re falling apart. If the lead singer isn’t trying to kill himself, it’s the bass player telling me he can’t write any new songs. And no one gets under my skin more than Jude, who seems determined to snort and drink himself into an early grave. There’s only one man I can think of who might be able to get Jude back on the right track, Bennett Schmitt. Unfortunately, he’s also the man I let get away sixteen years ago and haven’t gotten over since.

Bennett

If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s take control of a situation. In fact, control is kind of my thing. Which is probably why I’m the best in the business when it comes to getting out of control celebrities back on track. When my ex calls and tells me he’s desperate for my help, I can’t turn him down. Between the infuriatingly sexy drummer with no idea what kind of trouble he’s asking for, and my ex looking better than ever, there’s no way this isn’t about to get messy.

* This is an MMM romance with D/s play and mild daddy kink (NO age play)

mybook.to/Botodreplay

BotoD teaser 1

BotoD Graphic 1

EXCERPT

I’m at my desk, doing my daily news check to make sure there haven’t been any new stories picked up in the past few days, when a sharp knock comes at my door. I tense in my chair, memories filling my mind of Bennett in my office, in my bedroom, following me with his eyes, tempting me to give in to something that can only end in heartbreak.

“Archer?”Jude’s voice is quiet, almost unsure, and like nothing I’ve ever heard from him before.

“Come in,”I call back, my heart beating faster as the door pushes open to reveal the young drummer looking slightly flush after his morning run with Bennett. He hesitates in the doorway for several seconds and I take the time to take him in. I know we’ve only been here nine days, but I can already see a difference in Jude—he seems more settled, less volatile, maybe even happier? I suspect that has more to do with whatever he and Bennett were up to last night than the cabin itself.

My stomach twists at the memory of last night, Bennett and I having a wonderful chat, just like we used to when we were in college. Then Jude came by to say he was going to bed and Bennett excused himself to follow a few minutes later. It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together, which is a good thing because I’m obviously not a genius, getting jealous over my ex and my client.

“What can I do for you?”I ask gently. It’s not Jude’s fault my feelings are all mixed up and I refuse to take it out on him.

“I don’t…um…”He looks a little lost like he’s not even sure what he’s doing in my office, let alone what brought him here.

“Why don’t you come in and have a seat,”I suggest, waving to the small couch in the corner of the room. He gives a jerky nod, stepping all the way inside and closing the door behind himself before making his way to my couch. “Things good with Bennett?”I check, worry rising up in my chest that maybe he’s here because something happened that made him uncomfortable.

“Hm? Oh…um…yeah.”

Not the most reassuring answer I’ve ever gotten.

“Look, I know it’s not my business and the last thing I want is to pry for details but are you happy with the arrangement you have with Bennett? Are you comfortable with the things he wants you to do?”

KM Neuhold Logo 2

I’m an author of m/m and new adult romance. I have a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well.

SOCIAL MEDIA

FACEBOOK

NEUHOLD’S NERDS (FAN GROUP)

TWITTER

WEBSITE

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New Release Blitz for Beat of Their Own Drum (Replay #3) by KM Neuhold (excerpt)

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BotoD RDB banner

BEAT OF THEIR OWN DRUM

REPLAY SERIES, BOOK 3

K.M. NEUHOLD

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 11.08.18

Beat of their own drum cover 

BLURB

Jude

Every rock band needs their bad boy. Hookers, drugs, DUIs— been there, done that. I’m in a Downward Spiral and proud of it (see what I did there?). When the band manager, Archer, hires Bennett to keep me from screwing up while the band is on hiatus, I may have finally met someone who won’t take my attitude lying down. With the three of us cooped up together for weeks on end, I have a feeling things might get interesting.

Archer

Downward Spiral is my baby. Not only am I the band manager, I discovered them ten years ago when they were nothing but a bunch of high school kids playing in a hole in the wall bar on the weekends. But it’s obvious I haven’t done a great job because they’re falling apart. If the lead singer isn’t trying to kill himself, it’s the bass player telling me he can’t write any new songs. And no one gets under my skin more than Jude, who seems determined to snort and drink himself into an early grave. There’s only one man I can think of who might be able to get Jude back on the right track, Bennett Schmitt. Unfortunately, he’s also the man I let get away sixteen years ago and haven’t gotten over since.

Bennett

If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s take control of a situation. In fact, control is kind of my thing. Which is probably why I’m the best in the business when it comes to getting out of control celebrities back on track. When my ex calls and tells me he’s desperate for my help, I can’t turn him down. Between the infuriatingly sexy drummer with no idea what kind of trouble he’s asking for, and my ex looking better than ever, there’s no way this isn’t about to get messy.

* This is an MMM romance with D/s play and mild daddy kink (NO age play)

mybook.to/Botodreplay

BotoD teaser 1

EXCERPT

“I didn’t realize I signed up for fucking boot camp,” I grumble, considering throwing my pillow at his head to get him to leave.

“I’ve helped a lot of people, celebrities included, recover from drug addiction and turn their lives around. The cornerstone of my treatment plan is sticking to a schedule.”

“A schedule?” I ask, allowing a mocking tone to drip from my voice. “Quick question for you sir.” It’s impossible to miss the way Bennett’s eyes flare, and I wonder what it means. “Is there any room in the schedule for jerking off, because I usually tug one out when I wake up and I prefer to take my time.” I kick my covers down, palming my hard cock through my boxers, holding Bennett’s gaze as I rub myself.

His eyes darken, reminding me of the sky right before a storm. A little thrill of fear goes through me, making my erection jump in my hand.

“How about I tell you when you’re allowed to jerk off? Does that work for you?” His voice is even lower and rougher than it was before, and again, my cock jerks with excitement. I bristle at the suggestion, even as part of me shouts yes.

“How about if you go fuck yourself?” I snap back.

Without warning, Bennett’s large hand wraps around my ankle, yanking me down to the edge of the bed and startling a yelp of surprise from me. He leans down, into my personal space, until our faces are only inches apart. I fight to keep my expression a mask of bored defiance.

“You’re used to getting your way, which is why you’re such a petulant little brat,” Bennett observes in a conversational tone. “But I’m going to tell you a little secret. I don’t give a flying fuck what you want right now. You’re going to get your skinny ass out of bed and put some goddamn clothes on like I told you to.”

KM Neuhold Logo 2

I’m an author of m/m and new adult romance. I have a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well.

SOCIAL MEDIA

FACEBOOK

NEUHOLD’S NERDS (FAN GROUP)

TWITTER

WEBSITE

NEWSLETTER

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A Lucy Review: Play it by Ear (Replay #2) by K.M. Neuhold

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

This is the second book in the Replay series which tells the stories of the members of Downward Spiral, an epically professionally successful band where the members are falling apart.  Or at least, the band is on the verge of falling apart because of some of the members.  This one tells the story of Lando, who in the first book was a rock, a support of the other band members.  At the end of book one, Face the Music, there was a very clever set up for the books to come and I was very happy that Lando was next. 

Lando was supposed to be one of two of the song writers for the band but in reality he has been doing it all.  From trying to keep Lincoln from hurting himself and keep Jude from self destructing to being responsible for all the song writing and it has taken a toll on him.  “I feel wrung out physically and emotionally.  I’m a battery with only ten present life left and no charger in sight.”

When their manager, Archer, suggests everyone take a vacation after the tour has to be canceled, Lando packs up and heads to Florida.  Nine years ago he had a weekend in Florida with someone he fell in love with.  He gave his phone number and they promised to keep in touch but it never happened. So for the past nine years the songs he’s written have been about Dawson, his muse and his long lost should have been.  “I”ve written a dozen songs about him. I’ve stayed up nights thinking about him. I’ve gotten drunk and cried over him. I hardly know him, but in nine years, I haven’t been able to shake him.” He is thinking maybe he will see Dawson there, even if he isn’t totally hopeful.  “Maybe there’s something wrong with me. Surely it can’t be normal after nine years to still want him so much.”  But he has his grandfather’s story of knowing immediately upon meeting her who he would marry to make him think love at first weekend is possible.

Except, lo and behold, Dawson is also taking vacation at the same time and he does run into Lando. This meeting was a little coincidental but I was okay with.  The problem? Dawson had an accident nine years ago and lost not only his hearing but also his memories.  While Dawson has had a serious crush on Lando as the bass player for Downward Spiral, he doesn’t remember spending the weekend with Lando, the man.  Dawson is a writer who’s words have deserted him and he’s now working as a bartender, sort of just existing.  He was this fearless man before and things have changed.  He has the support of his wonderful sister, Parker, but that is sort of it.

The book is told in first person point of view, alternating Lando and Dawson.  In addition, it has flashbacks from nine years ago and today, cleverly titled Track, Side A or B.  While I used to dislike first person, it has definitely grown on me because now I like getting into the mind of each character.  Here in particular it’s helpful because Dawson is deaf and he does have memory gaps, so understanding where he is coming from was beneficial.  It is a little heartbreaking when you realize that he puts everything into his calendar because he is terrified of forgetting.  “Most days, the fear of forgetting something is worse than the actual forgetting.”  He puts in what he did that day just to make sure he remembers.

When they run into each other at a bar in Florida Lando is overjoyed and then shocked when he find that Dawson, the man he’s dreamed of for years, doesn’t remember him at all.  “He doesn’t recognize me. I’ve been obsessing over im for nine years, and he doesn’t even remember me. Could I be any more pathetic?”  It was a hard moment.  “I’ve spent all these years falling in love with the memory of a man who doesn’t exist anymore.”

But then he’s happy to get to know this new Dawson, who is a big fan even if he can’t remember what the songs sound like.  And while he thinks Cherry Lane (the song Lincoln wrote about Jace) is “….okay, but the rest of the album is much ….more.  They’re poetic and captivating. They’re original and beautiful.”  So he loves the songs that Lando wrote, and happen to be the songs Lando wrote about him.

Lando does convince Dawson to spend some time with him and they work on getting to know each other again, this time with text messages and notepads instead of conversation with some bittersweet moments when Lando knows things about Dawson that Dawson can’t remember.  Lando is so sweet, trying to learn ASL so he can communicate better.  He is not the spoiled selfish rock star that you would expect.  He is kind and gentle.  This book is definitely softer than book one, because Lando is softer than Lincoln and it comes across.

They have obstacles to overcome, including paparazzi, a lost phone, trying to reconcile the past with the now and trying to get past the writer’s block they both seem to have.  Lando hasn’t been able to write any songs, Dawson hasn’t been able to write any stories.   Lando’s advice was so apt: “instead of trying to write a book that will change the world, let yourself try to write a book that will change one single person’s world.”   We get to see Dawson try to find that fearless man he used to be and you just know how difficult that is.  “Can I be brave again? Is that still in me?”

Dawson has some great insights into Lando. “I wonder if he ever does things because they’re what he wants the most, instead of what makes everyone around him happiest.”  That sums up Lando well and he deserves to be happy himself.  There are a few times that Dawson doesn’t react well to things Lando reveals but you have to give him that – for Lando it’s been nine years of longing whereas for Dawson it’s really the first time he’s with this man.

Archer, the manager, is so amazing and takes care of so much I was really looking forward to his book.  Unfortunately, from the teasers in this book I have a feeling his is going to take a turn towards a theme I don’t care for so I may have to skip it.  I will be bummed if so.

I liked the first book and I loved this one.  There was just something about it that grabbed my heart and held on.  I wanted so much for these guys.  Even more, I was so happy that there was no magical fix of Dawson’s loss of hearing because in the real world it doesn’t work like that.  Lando was in love with the man, unconditionally.  Just what we all should have.

The cover art by Inked Design depicts Lando with the city in the background and the beach in the foreground.  I found it very fitting and both books in the series have covers that show the band member almost exactly as I pictured them.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 290 pages
Published July 2nd 2018 (first published June 29th 2018)
Original Title Play it by Ear
Series Replay (add it to your Goodreads list here)

Rock Bottom

Play it by Ear

Face the Music

Release Blitz for Play it by Ear (Replay #2) by KM Neuhold (excerpt)

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 Play it by Ear RDB Banner

PLAY IT BY EAR

REPLAY SERIES, BOOK 2

K.M. NEUHOLD

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 07.02.18

Play it by Ear Cover 

BLURB

Lando

My muse is gone, and I haven’t written a word of music in over a year. Every time I close my eyes, all I can see is Dawson. Nine years ago, just before Downward Spiral’s first major tour, I met my soulmate and then I walked away. Now that I’ve finally tracked him down again, things have changed. I’ll have to make him fall for me all over again. But is it possible I put our single weekend together on a pedestal or could Dawson really be The One?

Dawson

A traumatic brain injury nine years ago left me deaf and with spotty memory of the first twenty years of my life. When one of the biggest rock stars in the world shows up and seems to know me, I’m not sure what to believe. Is it possible he’s telling the truth when he says he’s been in love with me for nine years, even if I can’t remember ever meeting him?

***Play it by Ear is the second book in the Replay series. Each book in the series will focus on a different band member getting a second chance at love. Each book can be read as a stand-alone.

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EXCERPT

The blank pages taunt me cruelly. No matter how many times I put the tip of my pencil to the paper, it remains blank. Have you ever felt like your entire life depended on your ability to do something that you suddenly couldn’t do? Not that I’m going to die if I can’t write. But if I can’t do this, the band will be dead, and I might as well die along with it.

“Just write,” I command myself, putting the tip of the pencil to the paper once more. “It can’t be that difficult. You’ve written three dozen songs, if not more. Just put one word in front of the other until you have enough words to fill three minutes or so.”

I drill the tip of the pencil into the paper, but still no words come.

“Goddammit,” I roar, snapping the pencil in my fist and throwing the pieces to the ground. “Dammit, dammit, dammit.”

A familiar resentment simmers in my chest. If Lincoln wasn’t such a mess, I wouldn’t be in this position. When we signed our first contract with Epic Records a decade ago, Lincoln and I agreed we’d share the responsibility of writing music. How many songs has Lincoln written? Two. Two fucking songs in ten years while I sit here with an ulcer over needing to get a whole album written in the next few weeks.

“Fuck you, Lincoln, and fuck me, too,” I mutter, heaving myself off the couch and heading to my kitchen to grab another beer.

How’s this for the wild Friday night in a rock star’s life? Drinking beer and berating myself in my deathly quiet penthouse.

I wander over to the window that takes up the entire east wall. City lights twinkle like stars all around, but when I tilt my head to see the actual stars, there’s nothing but hazy light polluting the sky.

I lift the bottle of beer to my lips and gulp down half of it in one go. None of this was how it was supposed to be. When we started this band, we were nothing more than best friends sharing a love of music. When we were signed by Epic, we were all so sure this was going to change our lives. We weren’t wrong. A decade later we have seven albums, three of which went platinum, we’re a household name, our songs—my songs—are on every radio station. We’re living the dream. So why does it feel so empty?

I rest my palm against the frigid glass of the window and wonder for the millionth time what the point of all this is.

The shrill sound of my phone ringing makes me jump. I reach into my pocket and see Archer’s name on the screen. There’s only one reason our band manager would be calling me after midnight on a random Friday.

“Is he okay?” I ask as soon as I answer. My voice sounds flat to my own ears, and I wonder if Archer notices it. I feel wrung out physically and emotionally. I’m a battery with only ten percent life left and no charger in sight.

“He’s in the hospital,” Archer replies, sounding just as exhausted as I am.

“How bad is it?”

“Not sure yet. They’re pumping his stomach. It looks like he drank a liter of whiskey. I found him asleep on his balcony, damn near frozen.”

“On his balcony?” I put my hand back on the freezing glass and shiver. “It’s like twelve degrees outside.”

“Yeah,” Archer agrees.

“What do you need me to do?”

“Nothing tonight. I just wanted to let you know, and I was hoping I could swing by to talk after he’s out of the hospital. Maybe tomorrow evening?”

“Yeah, any time,” I agree. “Do you want me to call Benji and Jude?”

“It’s okay; I need something to do to distract myself while I wait. Thanks though.”

“No problem. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I hang up and gulp down the rest of my beer. Sometimes it feels like these aren’t the lives we were meant to live. We all got off track somewhere. I can pinpoint exactly where my life split into a before and after. I’ve written a dozen songs about him. I’ve stayed up nights thinking about him. I’ve gotten drunk and cried over him. I hardly know him, but in nine years, I haven’t been able to shake him. What I wouldn’t give to go back and do something differently. Maybe I’d never leave him. Maybe I’d beg him to come with me. I don’t know what I’d do, but it wouldn’t be this.

I toss the empty bottle in the recycling and amble to my bedroom, stripping out of my clothes as I go. Maybe I’ll dream some damn lyrics and save my own ass. More likely I’ll dream of him.

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I’m an author of m/m and new adult romance. I have a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well.

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A Lucy Review: Face the Music (Replay #1) by K.M. Neuhold

Standard

Rating: 4  stars out of 5

Trigger warnings:  Suicide attempt, self-harm.

I have to start out by saying I’m probably in the minority about my rating on this one but I will explain why.  Lincoln and Jace have been friends since they were kids, spending summers together at their family’s cabins by the lake.  They were best friends who, at age 15, realized they could be something more.  And so they were best friends and boyfriends, eagerly awaiting the time they could be together all the time and not just in the summer.  As they approached time to go to college, they made promises to each other and planned their future.  The problem is, Lincoln didn’t keep those promises,  instead ghosting Jace after a night spent together and never contacting him again.  No note, no communication until Lincoln’s band makes it big with a song, Cherry Hill, written by Lincoln about his love affair with Jace, putting it out for the world.  Brutal.

Ten years have passed and Lincoln and his band, Downward Spiral, are immensely successful and popular.  They are also falling apart, at each other’s throats and Lincoln especially is doing just that – downward spiraling.  Lincoln doesn’t care about anything, struggling to get through the day.  He’s had a suicide attempt fairly recently and when the band manager finds him passed out on the balcony in freezing weather, it’s time to do something.  The band takes a hiatus and Lincoln goes to the only place he’s felt really happy, that cabin by the lake.  “What was I thinking, coming here to torture myself with memories of the love I threw away?”

Providentially, Jace, an epidemiologist, has also decided to spend some vacation time at his parents’ cabin by the lake.  The two run into each other at the grocery story for the first time in ten painful years and it made sense to me that Jace was angry.  Ten years you’ve suffered because the love of your life just disappeared, never to contact you again, making money off the song of your pain, until an accidental meeting.  The blurb talks about Jace hating him but I just felt like Jace gave into Linc a little too easily.  He had the advice from his awesome brother, Joel, and his best friend, Wyatt, to use this time to get closure on Linc but he almost immediately starts hanging out with Linc and then sleeping with him.  He doesn’t give his trust easily but them even hanging out and sleeping together just seemed too quick for someone who’s life was nearly destroyed by the pain of his love leaving.

The story is told in alternating first person point of view, so we get the insights of both Lincoln and Jace.  This was so helpful in really connecting with the characters and as a reader I appreciated getting the thought processes they had going on.  This is an emotional story with some heavy baggage on Lincoln’s side particularly and some incredibly difficult feelings for them to work through. When they play video games, loser has to tell a truth, it was the start, really. 

“I wrote more songs about you, but I never showed them to a label because I didn’t want to share them with the world.”

“You didn’t have a problem with that first one.  I mean, Jesus, Linc, you talk about the first time we…” Jace shakes his head and clenches his jaw.

“I know, and I wished I hadn’t as soon as we started recording. But they wouldn’t let me back out. I felt like I gave away a piece of us when I let the world have that song, and that’s one of my biggest regrets.” 

Definitely, since not only did Linc ghost Jace but had to hear one of the most popular songs of the time (and one that is still played). Linc is very apologetic throughout, waiting for Jace to be ready to listen to him explain and mean the apology.  To show that a second chance will bring a much different result.  I did hate that through it Jace kept feeling bad.  As he said, “I didn’t break this, you don’t.  You don’t get to make me feel bad about not wanting to pick up where we left off.”  But still, he kept feeling bad.

They do fall into bed together, “…a little fun… for old time’s sake”and Linc has such happy memories of their times at the cabin.  Jace, however, “Funny, I can only remember the morning I woke up all alone in that bed, all of your things packed and gone.  You didn’t even have the courtesy to leave me a note.” Linc acts surprised, or maybe hurt that’s what Jace remembers.  I wanted to shake him and say, what did you think!  “The sad thing is those are all my happy memories, too.  But you ruined it, Linc.  You took every good thing inside me, and you stomped all over it, then tossed it away like it never meant anything to you.”  I can’t even imagine the depth of pain he has been feeling for ten years.  Linc has felt it as well, but at least he knows the reason.

The thing that was done extraordinarily well here was Linc’s depression.  The darkness that encompasses him was real and his reactions were also real.  His way of coping with the pain of his life and the darkness is to self harm, a mechanism he’s been using since his teen years.  His father was a verbally abusive nightmare and cutting was a way for Linc to control that pain.  “Do you have any idea how happy I was to have a son when you were born?  And then you turned out to be the world’s biggest disappointment.  You’re weak.  Boys don’t cry, you f**king queer” is just the tip of the iceberg.   The cutting scenes are realistic and we get Lincoln’s feelings, or maybe lack of feeling is the better way to put it, during those times.  I especially appreciated that there was no magic cure here.  Having Jace by him made Linc happy and hopeful but when the depression set in, it still set in.  Because serious depression isn’t that simple and this was so realistic.  I couldn’t help worry for Jace as Lincoln deals with what he thinks is rejection by cutting more.  That’s a lot to put on someone. I was glad when Jace declared his deal-breaker.

The whole thing is a second chance work in progress and it is not an easy one.  There are Side B chapters (flashbacks to when they were teenagers) to give some background of the intensity of their relationship and while I am not usually a fan of flashbacks, they definitely worked here.  They were so cute and so sweet as teens, it just made the whole separation more painful. When Linc remembers things he planned and promised at that time, as the perfect Christmas that never happened, I kept thinking, please let the reason for leaving be a good one, something we can forgive him for.  For me, the reason didn’t work and that kept this from being five stars. I dislike that kind of thing and Jace deserved at least a conversation.  But it wasn’t annoying enough to take away from the powerful aspect of this book.

The author has set up the next books in the series with the other band members, Benji, Lando and Jude, in a way that wasn’t clunky or obvious, just a really nice teaser as to things coming next.  Even Linc doesn’t know what has happened yet!  This vacation was good for everyone, it seems.  This is a great start to a new series.  Not light and fluffy (although I am hoping at least one of their stories will be) but definitely worth the read.

Cover art by Inked Design fit the feel of the book.  The cover boy is a decent representation of Lincoln, tattooed and a little brooding, with the city and the lake as a backdrop. 

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 294 pages
Published May 20th 2018
ASINB07D1QLJWR
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesReplay #1