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Our Review

“Nothing tells you what a girl really wants to say like the song she’s begging you to listen to.”
“Don’t forget what this journey is about: the music, Presley. Always the music.”

Cherry Beats is the rock star romance we have been searching for to satisfy our need for the real world of rock music, the raw emotions, the feeling of being in a packed stadium audience reverently banging our heads and belting out much-loved rock songs…out of tune of course. Cherry Beats is everything and Vicki James nailed it. The rock scene isn’t pretty, it isn’t all fun and fluffy. Its highs can be equally matched with its low’s. It can be as dark as it can be bathed in a spotlight of adoration. It’s filled with as much angst and self-doubt as it is filled with overwhelming joy and self-satisfaction.

“You asked me if I’m mad, and I said no. That was a lie. I’m fucking furious, but not at you alone. I’m mad at this world we live in – the one where everyone is suddenly so damn right about every little thing, their views and opinions rigid and unmoving. I’m mad that it’s easier to throw stones than to pick them up and put them somewhere safe where they won’t hurt anyone. I’m mad at the way the world loves to build people up only to enjoy every second of tearing them back down again. I’m mad how people you love the most are more often than not the ones who end up hurting you more than any stranger ever could. I’m mad that it’s easier for people to believe the bad than the good.”

In our opinion, the balance to get a rock star romance spot on is like walking a tightrope, this Author danced all over that tightrope and made it her bitch. She gave us everything and more. In Cherry Beats, Vicki James wrote one of our favourite rock star romances, one which will go on the list of never forget. The writing was outstanding and we must have highlighted half the book, as our hearts were pulled back and forth by truths, analogies, heartbreak, love, self-searching and the utter despair and exhilaration of achieving childhood dreams. And of course -the music- always the music.

‘There’s a reason he started drumming. There’s a reason he needed to hit things to survive. There’s a reason music was the thing to save his life.’

 ‘Goddamn drummer boy with his poetic words, hands of destruction, and the honest heart I somehow held the key to.’

In a flawlessly written gritty and epic love story of music, angst, drugs and lonely beating hearts, Presley West’s soul shines a light of pure brightness in a world that can be otherwise wickedly dark and addictive. He stole our hearts little by little through the beat of his drum, the weight of his impactful words and the vividness of his dreams and desires. By the last word he completely owned our hearts, leaving a deep everlasting impression.

‘He was far too beautiful to be sitting in the middle of my mediocre world. He wasn’t meant to be here. This wasn’t the way things were meant to go.’

Tessa Lisbon was written with such heart and honesty. She was so real we could be her, she could be someone we know. She lived for music, the real music and we loved her for it. The words and the truth behind them, the ultimate therapy that music gives us.

“You’re the only one who’s ever felt real.”

Tessa fell in love with a drummer boy at school. A unique boy, a soulful boy and she never forgot him. She never could and she never would. Tessa is a realist who loves with her entire being. She has her insecurities, her fears and her hang-ups just like Presley does. The deep marks or scars, be they on the outside or inside, from childhood and the people in it, preventing that true happiness and serenity which only a soul mate can help to uncover and heal.

“Dreams are scary to chase, Cherry. That’s what makes it so much more satisfying when you finally catch them.”

When words make you fall in love all over again with music giants from your youth, you know your heart is completely committed and immersed into a world you can only ever experience when an Author lets you into theirs. We lived and breathed everything -Tessa and Presley-; as Bon ‘fucking’ Jovi and the Bryan ‘fucking’ Adams played along in the background to the written words on paper. It was magical, it was exhilarating, it was devastating, and it was powerful. It was love. The playlist used in Cherry Beats is like the Holy Grail and it made this story a truly magnificent experience!

“I didn’t just listen to the music. I listened to the words. The actual words. He tells stories with his songs, and even the fast ones just break me wide open sometimes. It was then that I realised music could give me everything I’d ever needed. Every time I felt something I didn’t understand, I’d go through track after track of his and search for what I was feeling. On the rare occasion, I couldn’t find it, I’d move on to Bon fucking Jovi…And if that didn’t cut it, I’d go through every song from the eighties, nineties, and noughties, I could find.”


Bon Jovi.
Bryan Adams.
Presley West.
My favourite men of music.
Only one of them within reach.

The night before Presley West was due to leave our small town of Hollings Hill, all of my high school fantasies came to life. He finally wanted me. Eight years I’d spent pining, and now I, bar-tending Tessa Lisbon, was going to make damn sure I made that night count before the music industry stole him.

Never screw your idols. That’s what they say, right? Well, I did, and I did it well. So well, I somehow managed to screw my own heart in the process.

He gave me one night to convince him to stay. In the end, I begged him to go.


But that’s the thing about rock stars: they do what they want, when they want, and forever didn’t end up being as long as I expected.

Presley was back, and with his face, voice, and music now everywhere I turned, I officially had nowhere left to run.

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