Steady Stroke, by A.M. Arthur
Series: Off Beat, Number 2
Publisher: SMP Swerve
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
After a tragic accident, Lincoln West’s dreams of making it big as a guitarist fell apart. Unable to play music, he’s battling a hopeless downward spiral, and takes his friend’s offer to stay at their beach house for the summer. While at an open mike night at local bar Off Beat, he locks eyes with a busboy who doesn’t make Linc feel so broken anymore.
Emmett Westmore lives for the anonymity of busing tables in his aunt’s quirky bar where no one pities him for the fire that killed everyone he loved. He blames himself for the fire, and he doesn’t want anyone to see him—except for Linc. Emmett’s walls drop when he’s around the gorgeous blue-eyed guitarist, but he has a secret that could destroy his budding relationship with Linc.
Both Linc and Emmett are looking for a way to live again…will they let their fears control them or take a chance on something real?
Warnings for (highlight below to view)
Violence against a transgender character
I was really looking forward to Lincoln’s story after reading Body Rocks, the first book in the Off Beat series. Sad to say, despite some enjoyable moments, I was left pretty unmoved by Lincoln and Emmet’s story.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought Linc and Emmet made a cute couple. They were really sweet together and I loved how caring and supportive they were of each other. Their attraction felt very natural and didn’t seem to hinge on the fact that they were suffering from major trauma and crippling anxiety. And there were definitely other things about the book I enjoyed, such as the reappearance of the awesome Bounds family and a few intriguing side characters named Van and Melody.
I think overall, it was the story that let me down. Just like the first book, Steady Stroke was chockful of drama, but this time, none of it sat right with me. There was just so much going on, and all of it was just so negative. I can’t discuss a lot of it without giving the story away, but suffice it to say that at one point, I had to suspend my disbelief when a major coincidence was introduced into the story. Not only that, but because it directly affected the other MC in a horrible way, it then became the big dirty secret that the one character carried around for most of the book (to add to the other secrets he was burdened with).
Another big grenade lobbed in the book was something about Emmet’s identity, which in theory, I should have totally embraced. Without revealing too much about him, I basically share a similar background with Emmet’s character (to a certain degree). But instead of feeling excited or at least open to the representation, I mentally and emotionally recoiled from the idea as soon as it presented itself. When paired with his tragic background (which was directly related to his identity), the negativity was just too much for me personally. That being said, I suspect most readers wouldn’t have a problem with Emmet’s identity the way I did, and that’s totally okay.
The stuff I mentioned only covers about half the drama that happened in this book (some of it didn’t relate to the plot but I’m assuming is set-up for the next book). With all the bombshells being dropped left and right, I wondered how on earth things would work out for the MCs (who totally deserved some happiness, by the way). When everything finally came to a head, the resolution for the major conflict (aka the big dirty secret) was hardly satisfactory and I finished the book with a sense of disbelief. The ending felt very rushed and anticlimactic and not at all proportionate to all the stuff that happened.
In my mind, Lincoln and Emmet did not get the happy ending they deserved. What’s more, as much as I adored the side characters and hope to see them get their own story, I’m not sure I’ll stick around for it. I will probably switch gears and check out the author’s other NA series, All Saints, which so far has been practically drama-free compared to this series.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.