REVIEW: I Want You to Want Me by Erika Kelly
Dear Ms. Kelly:
This is the second book I’ve read in this series and I’m starting to see a pattern. It’s a good pattern though–competent and capable heroines. Violet Davis is a reputation fixer. When the story opens we see Violet toasting the new engagement of her former boyfriend, a forty something partier who she transformed into a “polished and sober CEO of a billion-dollar company.” She wasn’t really the billionaire’s girlfriend, she only played that part as she got him sober and cleaned up his image.
Now Emmie Valencia, her old friend, has called to beg for help. Emmie manages a band “Blue Fire” (formerly known as Snatch). The band is comprised of Emmie’s boyfriend (their story was in You Really Got Me), Emmie’s brother, and three others. The three others are out of control. (As a side note this makes me sad because of the guys had a serious girlfriend in You Really Got Me and it’s as if she doesn’t even exist in this book.) Emmie needs Violet to come in and clean the group up.
The group doesn’t want to be cleaned up. They don’t want to believe their drummer is hardcore abusing drugs. They don’t want to believe that the success that they’ve worked so hard to achieve means that they can’t enjoy the fruits–which to these guys is endless chicks and blow.
Derek Valencia is a man with a mission. His father, an iconic jazz musician, thinks that Derek is a worthless gadfly. Now that Derek’s band is killing it on the music festival circuit and starting to gain recognition, Derek’s dad shows up and starts slinging arrows about how Derek is playing at being a musician.
Both Derek and Violet have strong storylines here. Derek is constantly pushing the band forward, seeking out the media and trying to make his band a thing. On the opposite side you have Violet who flits from one job to another. She doesn’t have roots or family having grown up in foster care. She envies Emmie’s solid place within the band–not only is she dating the lead singer, but her brother is one of the songwriters and the guitarists. To cope, Violet tells herself she doesn’t want what Emmie has even though the reader knows that’s not true.
Violet is also trying to purchase a piece of land from the estate of a dead friend. The land is on the tip of Long Island and it serves as her retreat.
The chemistry between Derek and Violet is believable and because both are likable, we root for them to be together. Derek is really into Violet and pushes her to be part of his life, even against her firm resistance.
The last fifteen percent of the book almost unravels the good parts that occurred in the first 85%. In the last 15% the two engage in very hurtful, selfish actions. And while protagonists should be allowed to be hurtful and selfish because that’s realistic, that they are portrayed in this fashion so late in the book places their HEA in doubt. That’s not the way to end the book.
Derek wants Violet to do something in support of him that is easily accomplished. She willfully refuses. When Violet isn’t supportive (and this happens throughout the book), Derek turns to other women. He doesn’t sleep with them, but he thinks about it. And that his default whenever he has problems with Violet is to turn to another woman for comfort is troubling. (Okay, it’s more than troubling. It’s awful. Derek, man, you really let me down at the end of the book).
Despite the last part of the story, it did end satisfactorily enough and I’m totally on board with the next Kelly book, whether it be rock stars or not. The heroines in both books are really appealing. They are confident and competent and their emotional insecurities are completely relatable. They don’t spend hours lamenting about being ugly ducklings nor are they beset with page after page of insecurities (am I good enough for this her0). They are doers and I really loved that both about Emmie and Violet. B-