20 September 2016

Steady Stroke by A.M. Arthur

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing Steady Stroke by A.M. Arthur, this is the second book I’ve read by this author and as I thoroughly enjoyed the first one I had high expectations. Steady Stroke is the second book in A.M. Arthur’s Off Beat series, but I read this without reading the first one and thought it worked perfectly as a stand-alone. Before I get properly into the review I should thank Swerve, via Netgalley, for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The book:

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 mic 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? 

My thoughts:

In Steady Stroke we are first introduced to Lincoln West, who is struggling to adjust to life after a car accident that left him unable to play music. He feels isolated from his former friends who are all still pursuing a career in music. Yet he is stuck in the same place as last year, but this time unable to play his beloved guitar. In the beginning of the book we are seeing the world from Linc’s perspective, his feelings of hopelessness, anger, and resentment. His struggle to move forward without constantly wishing for what he had.

A year ago, XYZ was on the verge of a breakthrough into an actual record deal. Lincoln was happy, healthy, and so proud of Dominic for beginning to work through some painful emotional baggage.

A glimmer of hope is found when he sees the new busboy at Off Beat. Emmet has social anxiety that started to manifest after a fire killed his family. Now living with his aunt Emmet is just trying to survive each day without drawing any attention to himself. As his friendship with Linc develops we see Emmet struggle with his sexuality. His struggle is partly tied up in his religion but also the fire that killed his family. I loved how A.M. Arthur portrays Emmet’s gradual acceptance of his sexuality and feelings for Linc. Without spoiling the story I thought Steady Stroke was wonderful in its approach to race, religion, and sexuality.

He didn't want to tell Lincoln why he hid who he was - not only his sexuality, but also his nationality. He didn't want to face those fears tonight or any other night.

Linc and Emmet teach each other to live again. Together they start making music and learn to move forward with life. I thought it was beautiful how they supported each other, slowly learning to read the others unspoken queues for when they needed help. I also thought the cast of secondary characters were interesting and believable. I would love to see Vincent and Melody in future books. What stopped Steady Stroke from being a five-star book for me was the plot twist.

“Honestly, I've felt awful since last night.”
"What happened last night?" 
"I talked to Adrian about you."

I wouldn’t say the plot twist is all that shocking, but I did find it very coincidental and unbelievable. By the time it was revealed I was already invested in Linc and Emmet’s relationship so I kept reading but I can see how other readers would be disappointed. I know A.M. Arthur uses this to build tension, but I thought this could have been achieved through different means.

The rant robbed him of the last of his energy, and Emmett sank to his knees in the wet carpet. He had no tears left to cry, only an oppressive weight on his chest that made it difficult to breathe.

Overall I really enjoyed Steady Stroke and I will definitely be reading more A.M Arthur books in the future. I would recommend this to people who enjoy contemporary M/M romances with a darker side. Although Steady Stroke isn’t a dark book, it does tackle some deeper issues that you don’t always find with characters this age.

My rating:

Happy reading and see you next time!