Scratch Track (Escaping Indigo Book 3) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 203 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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From the first page to the last this book sets itself apart from other rockstar romances as it’s not your typical tale of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. Yes, it’s a steamy tale but there’s no groupies or heavy partying going on to affect the band’s connection. There’s actually a familial vibe amongst the members of Escaping Indigo and Rest In Peach as they spend time making beautiful music together while in the studio. It’s a time consuming process that gives ample time to the reunion of roadie Quinn and Rest In Peach’s drummer Nicky. Their one night together could’ve amounted to more but a tragic event befell Quinn, an event that he’s still punishing himself for and that’s keeping him from living life to the fullest. In this third installment in the series these two men work through the pain of the past in a journey of self-forgiveness and trust.
Quinn’s always been the caretaker, from the band to his family, the one everyone could count on to see to their needs and keep them safe. It’s a role he took seriously until the day his brother overdosed. That moment left him reeling, feeling lost and ashamed for all that he didn’t do and it’s something he still can’t forgive himself for. His grief has caused him to wallow in self-punishment as he doesn’t feel worthy of love and happiness after failing his brother. His feelings are the crux of the division between him and Nicky and keeps them struggling every step of the way. A lot of time is spent in Quinn’s head but there were still times I felt that there was still much I didn’t know about him. He’s always been quiet and contemplative and he’s still that here, spending a lot of time rehashing his grief. It ultimately made for emotional storytelling but much frustration too.
Nicky’s the more carefree of the two, the one to initiate their reunion. He got Quinn talking and made him start dealing with the past head-on through many heartfelt talks and by opening up a bit more about himself. One secret he shared was a definite surprise and changed their dynamic a bit. It deepened their connection, made it more of a commitment between the two of them. In some ways I felt like I knew Nicky more than Quinn and yet I still felt like there was more missing. He was hurt by Quinn leaving without a word and it’s clear he’s still holding back a bit. For every step forward they took I felt there were many more steps missing in their journey of forgiveness but I applaud Nicky for each olive branch he extended to Quinn.
This was a steamy story as Quinn and Nicky were a crackling couple teeming with sexual tension. From longing glances to deep talks these two spend a lot of time together, spend a lot of time dealing with their pasts while hoping for a future, and it made for some intense reading. Their issues were weighty and Quinn’s grief was an especially heavy burden that didn’t allow for many lighthearted moments. It did all lead to a satisfying ending though, an ending that felt more like a HFN than a HEA, but no less rewarding for all that came before.
wowed by her demonstration of how to live on!
Also impressive is that the book works as a standalone. I hadn’t read the first two in this Escaping Indigo series, but still enjoyed the rich cast of characters, who function like a chorus to the main couple’s drama.
Quinn, a road manager, joins his band, Escaping Indigo, as they produce an album, though he’s neither working, nor necessary. He’s escaping his younger brother’s suicide, its associated guilt, as Lang conveys, “and figuring out how my life worked with this giant home where Eric had been.”
Lang pens Quinn “as the guy who listened, and who fixed where I could … took care of them. That was how I liked it. That was how I worked best.” Now, his brother’s death has left Quinn questioning. “I hadn’t ever known what Eric needed. I hadn’t seen any need in him at all. So obviously that (caretaking) talent was a lie.”
Has Quinn isolated himself? Or has Eric’s death revealed Quinn was never the band member’s true friend? “There was something about the way they tuned in to each other, focused on each other, became almost like one mind when they were writing and working on songs, that made me feel…lost. On the outside. Like I was a puzzle piece that didn’t quite fit. It made me lonely in an abstract way,” Quinn muses to himself.
Immediately before the trauma, Quinn enjoyed a promising flirtation and tryst with Nicky, drummer for another band, Rest in Peach. (Great band name for a novel about grief, no?) They’d promised to maintain contact - until Quinn’s abrupt, unexplained withdrawal.
When Peach records at the same location as Indio, it’s awkward for both men. Nevertheless, Quinn is still drawn towards Nicky, who he reminisces was “easy to be with…He made things simple. He made you want to stand beside him and soak up some sun. So I did.”
It’s not simple. Not knowing about the death, when Quinn ignored Nicky’s overtures, Nicky was hurt. It’s equally painful to discover Quinn didn’t think enough of Nicky to share the pain. But Quinn is better at giving than receiving. Can two distrustful men get back together?
While listening to an old record, thinking back to when he’d first heard it, Quinn realizes it “made me feel for a few minutes like I was in both places, both times.” Much like death differentiates a survivor’s life into before and after, so can love, “as if two side of my life-the side before I’d met Nicky, before I’d slept with him again, and the side after, with everything that meant and everything that came with it – were crashed together.”
This is Lang’s brilliance. Writers often repeat complex concepts throughout a book. But she sorts and shifts through themes of love, responsibility, powerlessness and death, using different contexts, perspectives, and the prisms of different personalities, until reality shines through.
The result is much like a musical fugue. By adding and subtracting flourishes to a basic premise she creates new music, as we watch characters confront their pain and confusion in order to change. Can Quinn, who feels like a fraud, become someone who can support the man he’s coming to love? Can Nicky, burned once, trust again? Should he?
Lang is clearly a musician. I love her descriptions of the role music plays in helping people process their emotions non-verbally. A scene in which Nicky shows Quinn how to play a drum becomes a blueprint for how to move on. Music aficionados will be impressed.
I think I highlighted more phrases in “Scratch Track” than any book I’ve ever read. Eli Lang’s novel deserves 4.5 stars