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In the swinging Sixties, life gets rockin’ for Jeff McInnery when a new band plays at the local pub. Caught up in lead singer Danny Speed’s cool, Jeff sneaks a kiss. But being found out as homosexual could stop Danny’s hot career fast, and even land him in jail. With harsh words, Danny leaves to head for fame and fortune while Jeff starts university. On campus, Jeff meets Archie Ballatine, a history student living as openly as possible. It’s an exciting new world of sex and friendship for Jeff, but then the band comes back to town.
When I first read the blurb for this Novella I was really happy. You see, ever since I was little I have had this weird fixation on the 60’s. The book promises not only a 60’s setting, but is also set in Britain, it features a Rock Star, and boys who love boys – All of these are things I love.
The blurb says that this is the story about a guy who meets a rock star, then the rock star leaves, and the guy meets someone else, but then the band comes back to town and he finds the rock star again. It was clear that there was some doubt involved, but I was under the impression that this was a love story between said guy and said rock star, but that wasn’t quite what I got.
Long story short: Jeff works in a pub where he meets Danny, who is the lead singer and guitarist of his band. There is some flirting but then Danny gets scared when Jeff makes a move. Things go wrong and Danny reacts badly (ingrained homophobia that is quite expected). A couple of weeks later Jeff leaves for University where he meets Archie.
Archie and Jeff are good friends, and fuck buddies, who in turn have sex with other men. Their relationship is by no means, exclusive. There is an underlying sweetness to what they have. I liked Archie from the moment I met him. I liked how Jeff saw him, too. But then, the band comes to town, and here’s where things start to get a bit more complicated.
I don’t do well with books that feature two love interests. In an effort to protect both Danny and Archie, Jeff keeps each man secret from the other. I understand why he did that, but I didn’t like it. I couldn’t understand Jeff. I was told that his motive for giving into Danny is that he wanted to help him, but, did he? Was that the only reason he kept seeing the Rock Star? At times it felt like he expected more.
Danny and Archie are opposites in so many ways. Where Danny is fearful, repressed, and self-conscious, Archie is brave, open, and just lives. He lives and feels and does, and stands for what he wants all the time. Jeff knows this, he’s always known.
I didn’t always like Danny, but I don’t think I was meant to. I also didn’t always like Jeff, but here I think that maybe I was meant to like him, yet, I didn’t. I really liked Archie, and I wish I’d seen more of him.
In my opinion, Danny took much on page time, and, seeing how it ended, I felt like he stole the opportunity I had to get to know Archie better. Deep down I know that Danny was there for a reason; he had a particular job, and he nailed it, but it still was difficult to read, to be honest.
In the end we get a beautiful epilogue that takes place in present time. It was really sweet to read, and I enjoyed it a lot. I actually found myself wishing I’d read more of that. Homosexuality could have been illegal back in the day, but I know gay couples who have found the way to stay committed to each other in spite of that, and in spite of not having the same rights as everyone else. This epilogue reflects that, and it was nice to read it.
There was this quote, though, and I didn’t know what to make of it (I still don’t):
“Whatever the law, or the church, or anyone else says, you and I are the same as anyone else. We simply choose to love in a different way”
I rarely quote in my reviews, but I felt like this one was important. The word choose threw me off a bit. I don’t know if maybe I’m reading too much into it, or if it was the poor wording that made me think that there is something that is not right with that particular line. I hope that what the author meant to say that you choose to live being who you are even if that is different than what it’s been established as a norm. Otherwise… it’s just… Err… Nope.
Having said all that, I didn’t particularly love the book, but I think this comes from my very personal issues with love triangles. In some cases they work for me, but it’s so difficult to make it happen. The book portrays a somewhat accurate picture of the sixties and homosexuality, but I still wish it had been worked in more depth.
Title: When the Band Came to Town
Author: H. Lewis-Foster
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 8, 2015
Purchase Links: Dreamspinner