Emotional Rock star friendship and rock star friends to lovers
SYNOPSIS – NIGHT SHIFTS BLACK
His name is Luke. But nobody knows that. He was an iconic musician before he gave up music. But nobody knows that either. They also don’t know he’s twenty-seven, that he used to have an infectious laugh, and that he’s way too young to be widowed. They certainly don’t know the rest of his tragic story. All they know is that he comes into their café at the same time every morning and stares at the same chair at the same table. They know he’s strange. They know he interrupts their breakfast with a cold blast of air as he hovers in the doorway, mustering the courage to confront a piece of furniture.
No one asks why. No one cares. He’s fine with that. He’s done with life. This isn’t even his story anymore. It’s actually Callie’s, the young writer who sat in his chair one day.
THE NIGHT SHIFTS BLACK SERIES is available below
Night Shifts Black Book One
Tracing Holland Book Two
Viper Book Three
Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
Night Shifts Black 4 Stars
‘He’s Luke Craven. A force. A god. He’s not real. Just a fantasy outside the grasp of our own realities. A face. A body. A cover. A story. A goad for aspiring models.’
First off, be sure to have Tracing Holland (NSB #2) on hand because, believe us, when you finish Night Shifts Black, you’re going to want to dive straight into book two to see how the story eventually concludes! We know we couldn’t have functioned until we devoured both!
We crave good rock star romances, in particular the ones that give us that ‘rock star feel’ , the ones that make us believe we’ve been allowed a backstage pass to peak behind the scenes of the rock star lifestyle. On that note, as far as the rock star feel of this story went, Alyson Santos absolutely delivered. This author’s clear knowledge and passion for the industry shone through making us feel as though we were part of the musical process of the band, Night Shifts Black.
We have to say, Night Shifts Black was different to what we had expected. We anticipated a gritty rock star romance but that wasn’t the case. What we read was a sad yet hopeful story of depression, self-loathing, guilt, about believing in yourself and demonstrates beautifully how one person, through a kind word, a show of compassion, a mere listening ear, can make such a difference. How one moment can impact our lives so dramatically….maybe even save a life.
“It all starts with believing in yourself. No, that’s a lie. It starts with accepting yourself.”
In retrospect, we found the ‘rock star romance‘ element in Night Shifts Black to be non-existent. Don’t get us wrong, there was a love aspect, however it didn’t come via Luke and Callie, instead their relationship was based on a beautiful, lasting and honest friendship.
“…don’t fall for him. Please.”
“Are you worried about me or him?”
“Both. He can’t be worshipped right now. He needs an anchor not a dreamer.”
We had initially expected love to eventuate between these two, however on reflection and at the time of reading we realised that Alyson Santos never lead us to believe there were romantic feelings between Callie and Luke so we weren’t blindsided in that regard as we always knew their relationship was born from compassion and a mutual respect. With Callie’s heart being stolen elsewhere…but it’s all good! We won’t spill anymore…but it’s okay…you’ll see!
“Promise me one thing though, Callie. No matter what happens with the two of us, we will always be there for him. I can’t lose him, too. I can’t.”
I squeeze his hand. “Neither can I.”
As we delved into Luke’s past, and as we slowly, very slowly, peeled away the layers and learnt Luke’s story, we realised Callie had demons of her own. Luke cut such a sad and lonely figure throughout Night Shifts Black and it was with heavy hearts we read, desperately wanting him to find the ability to forgive and believe in himself. In return we needed for Callie to learn her worth as a person which she discovered through her tenacious yet tentative quest, to see beneath the man, the rock star, never standing in judgement no matter what he divulged, and giving him the will to carry on with her selfless kind heart. Luke and Callie’s was a love story all of its own kind, in that we felt a genuine love, borne of deep friendship, and it was a relationship that was exquisitely written.
“What do you say to a monster you love who’s finally figured out what he is?”
This is our first read from Alyson Santos and she floored us with her enormous talent. Her writing was enriching, intelligent and unique as she unequivocally captured all the emotions associated with her subject matter. As soon as we finished Night Shifts Black, we had to devour Tracing Holland.
SYNOPSIS – TRACING HOLLAND
Second chances are hard enough when you deserve them. Then there are the ones you don’t.
Callie asked if I was ready. And that’s the question, isn’t it? Ready for what? The spotlight? The music? Or ready for life. Ready to face the reality that what I was is going to attack the very fabric of who I am now. No one knows I’m a different person. Well, no one except the two most important people in my life, which is why there’s a remote chance I might actually pull off the comeback I never saw coming.
Then again, that was before Holland Drake crashed into my life. I didn’t ask for her. Heaven knows she didn’t ask for me. But sometimes it’s not about what makes sense; it’s about accepting that not everything will. It’s learning you have a choice when it feels like you don’t. It’s believing even the worst past can still have a future.
And sometimes it’s none of that. Sometimes it’s survival. A blind fight through the pain as you cling to any shred of hope you can find. And it’s those moments, those desperate pleas into the darkness for a flicker of light, when you have no choice but to confront the blessing that often feels like a curse:
You’re still alive. You’re still significant.
You’re once again Luke Craven, frontman for Night Shifts Black.
Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
Tracing Holland – 4.5 Stars
******Warning: Possible Spoilers below for Night Shifts Black *******
“I’m going to be in love with you, Luke Craven,” she breathes into the peace. I smile. “I’m going to be in love with you, too, Holland Drake.”
Tracing Holland picks up a couple of months after the ending of Night Shifts Black as we’re left wondering what was to become of Luke, Callie, Casey and Night Shifts Black’s future as a band. Could Luke make a comeback? Could he be healed? Well, it was all answered…and more in the second book.
Tracing Holland sees Luke’s recovery, we witness him facing his demons head on and it’s heart wrenching at times what he has to endure on his road to healing.
Never far from his side are his best friends Callie and Casey, for whom Luke acknowledges he wouldn’t be where he is if it had not been for their intervention. These two kindred souls singlehandedly saved Luke’s life, but it’s a long road back and it’s fraught with triggers, demons and mixed emotions.
“You’re not broken, Luke. Just lost.”
We discover a more mature Luke in this second book. He still cuts a lonely troubled figure but he begins to open himself up to Holland Drake, the front woman for the band, Tracing Holland who are supporting Night Shifts Black on their return.
Holland was such a beautiful character. Honest, loving and a perfect sounding board for the unsettled Luke. Their shared love and passion for music initially sparked their friendship, their understanding and belief in each other ignited deeper feelings to progress.
“It’s ok, Luke. It’s ok to feel something good, it’s ok to let go.”
It wasn’t an easy road for Luke. His story was emotional, difficult yet at the same time inspirational and beautiful.
We absolutely recommend grabbing these books – and to ensure you experience the whole journey, make sure you read Night Shifts Black then Tracing Holland as you need to feel Luke’s journey from its troubled beginnings to its beautiful end.
“I don’t need a man to complete me, to give me value. I want one, but I don’t need one. Sure, maybe one day I’ll find someone who will fit into the box I created for my life, but it’s a measured choice, nothing more, nothing less….and then you come along.”
What NSB may have lacked in romance, Tracing Holland more than makes up for, by delivering a heartfelt, slow burning love story that touched our hearts.