This was the first book I’ve read by Stina Lindenblatt, and I’ve read very few rock star romances, so I had no idea what to expect. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this story, overall. It has a little of everything: first love, second chance love, suspense, angst, darkness and light. All in all, it was a satisfying read – gently sexy, emotionally charged, with an air of tragedy but a spirit of hope. The two main characters were well-developed; their scenes together are passionate when they should be, and funny where it counts. I look forward to getting to know more about the secondary characters as the series continues.
Nolan Kincaid, a.k.a. up-and-coming rock star Tyler Erickson, abruptly left his home town, Northbridge, MN, at age 19, after a heartbreaking family tragedy. He changed his name and moved to L.A., determined to reinvent himself, launch his career as a rock guitarist-vocalist, and escape anything and anyone that reminded him of his loss … including his childhood best friend and confidante, Hailey. Leaving her behind, then completely cutting her out of his life, was his one and only regret.
Five years later, he’s on his way to achieving his rock star dream. His band, Pushing Limits, is finishing a year-long tour and preparing to record a new album. They have a lucrative recording contract, a faithful fan following, their own devoted groupies, and all the other trappings of celebrity success, including the sleazy paparazzi and the endless tabloid rumor mill.
So far, Nolan has kept his former life a secret. Even his closest friend and band partner, Jared, has no idea of his true identity, or the tragic night that made him flee his home. No one knows the pain he suffers, day in and day out, because of his own guilt and fear. He can’t remember the details of the fateful night that changed his destiny – and he doesn’t want to. So he willingly, even eagerly, plays the part of the bad-boy rock star, adopting the Hollywood persona that’s expected of him, including a rumored romance with a stunning, successful actress — while shielding his true self from the world.
Fortunately or unfortunately for Nolan (you’ll see when you read the story), on the last night of the tour, his life turns upside down again. Another close childhood friend, Brandon, calls to tell him that Hailey is hospitalized, comatose, the victim of a savage attack. Her attacker is still at large. Despite his misgivings about returning home and facing Hailey again, Nolan can’t stay away. He takes the next plane home – forcing himself back to the last place on earth he wants to be.
Nolan has been in love with Hailey for a long time – long before he left Northbridge. He never had the chance – or the nerve – to tell her. Likewise, Hailey fell in love with Nolan and, at one point, dreamed of a life with him – but her dreams died after the tragedy, when he rejected her and embraced celebrity. Like Nolan, she’s made a new life for herself – working days in a gym, pursuing a career as a physical therapist, filling her nights with one-night stands, deeply wounded by Nolan’s rejection and determined not to let herself be hurt again.
Their journey begins when she emerges from her coma to find Nolan at her bedside. She can’t remember the details of her attack, or any of the events that led up to it. She’s lost an entire week of her life, leaving her full of questions only she can answer. Was it truly random, or not? If not, why was she targeted? Without Hailey’s memory to give them something to go on, the police investigation is at a standstill, leaving Hailey potentially in grave danger. Nolan is determined to keep her safe until her memory returns and her attacker is captured, whatever it takes. She’s shocked and confused by his abrupt return, but grateful, even if she’s more than a little reluctant to let him past her well-honed defenses.
Hailey knows Nolan as no one else does. She sees through his rock star persona and the trappings of his celebrity lifestyle, to the broken young man underneath, desperate to let go of his sorrow and guilt, constantly struggling with the crippling fear of exposing his past to the world. Both have hearts and souls that need mending; but the deck seems stacked against them — for most of the story, anyway. Although you hope they find the happy-ever-after they need and deserve, there are enough twists and turns in the story to make you wonder how it will all work out by the end.
Of course, their attraction is stronger than ever. The passion between them is undeniable, but they’re unwilling to put a label on it. Nevertheless, their relationship is deeply rooted, full of shared memories, even if their future is anything but certain. So, despite the risk of being hurt again, Hailey and Nolan take a chance and give in to the feelings they’ve denied themselves for so long. And, as you might expect, the experience is everything they’ve ever dreamed of, and more.
Everyone knows it won’t be easy — not with an attacker on the loose, the paparazzi hanging around, twitchy band members and record producers facing a deadline, and the emotional baggage they aren’t dealing with. The longer they stay together, and the more intimate they become, the greater the risk the media will discover and expose Nolan’s secrets; and Hailey will be dragged into the spotlight, into a cruel world she’s completely unprepared for, at the worst possible time for everyone. Then there’s the real elephant in the room: once they acknowledge their need for each other, the harder it will be when it’s time to let go again. There are choices and consequences ahead – that no one wants to deal with – so they don’t. You will have to experience those first-hand to appreciate the true meaning of This One Moment..
There were only a couple of things that I felt detracted from the potential impact of the story. The pace was a little slow, and a little too steady for my taste. I confess I am an adrenaline junkie, and felt there were a few action scenes that could have been taken further to intensify the suspense. The flashbacks were well written. They built suspense, and contributed valuable context to Nolan’s struggle with his past, while also helping us understand what happened to Hailey. But four plot twists late in the story didn’t feel plausible to me, and the ending was just a little too ‘neat’ for my taste. It felt like it rushed to tie up all the loose ends. As a result, the resolution of all the story’s conflicts seemed entirely too easy.
Finally, there was one other thing that frustrated me: the failure of the primary characters to communicate – repeatedly. I’ve read several books recently where the main characters think and feel a lot – but never, ever talk to each other about what they think, or express how they truly feel, until all hell breaks loose. This is fairly common in romance novels, but it is getting redundant for me. I have a new respect for characters that are strong enough to say what they think and feel; don’t feel compelled ‘protect’ each other from the truth; and don’t make life-changing decisions separately, based on faulty assumptions. The conflict is every bit as powerful and when you see those character traits in a story, it’s refreshing.
Despite those few drawbacks, which are highly subjective, this is a story worth reading, and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the next book in the Pushing Limits series. I look forward to seeing what else the author has in store for the band, and I hope to see Nolan and Hailey again as well.