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Our Review

‘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 goal 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 peek 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 from 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

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.

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