Review: Back-Up by A.M. Madden

Back-Up  - A.M. Madden
“CCDS is the acronym I use for your smile. Crotch Clenching Dimple Showing smile.”

How can I not start a review with this quote? I should’ve known the first time Leila labels Jack’s smile CCDS this book wasn’t for me. Especially not when the word her crotch constantly clenches whenever she’s around Jack? And I mean it. Every. Single. Time. That, and/or tingles spread through her body. This should’ve been the first and only clues necessary to make that clear.

Actually, the first clue came before that. It came within the first two chapters. The first told from Leila’s – our heroine – POV, and then the second from Jack’s – our hero – POV. The first two chapters are solely there to introduce characters, and there are lots of them. Each person begins to describe their friends, family, and a couple of irrelevant people. Did you read that right? Two people, two chapters, about twenty people introduced introduced with telling, no showing. That is clue number one.

Let’s straight this out a bit first though. The story is the one of Leila, an aspiring artist with a dream to become a star. She goes on an addition for Jack’s Lair, a band which wants to change their sound for their upcoming tour, so they’re looking for a girl. The blurb for this novel indicates exactly this and that Leila and Jack will fell attraction immediately towards one another, and an intimate moment causes them to begin on an erotic love affair. And here’s the last paragraph of the blurb:

An intimate moment causes their willpower to collapse, and their erotic love affair to begin. Finding love was a bonus that neither Jack nor Leila anticipated. As they begin their tour together professionally and personally, life couldn’t be any better for the couple. Until a mistake from Jack’s past threatens their new relationship, and their perfect future together.

I want to sort a two things out before continuing. First, they go on tour first in the last 10% of the book. At least I interpreted the blurb such as that the band and Leila goes on tour during the book. No such thing. They spend months and months in the studio (which actually is mentioned earlier in the blurb, but this last paragraph makes it seem as they do it in this novel as well), and little time on tour. Second, said mistake, too, shows up in the last 10%, barely mentioned or hinted at before the 90% mark. I am completely serious about this, and since these are the only dispute in the whole novel, well, you can imagine the rest.

So, if the two things hinted at in the blurb shows up after 90% in, what is Back-Upreally about? It’s about Leila and Jack ignoring the pull between them. It’s about a few thrown in plot twists that are unnecessary to the plot. It’s about Leila going on short – and poorly explored – meetings about the band business. Considering that Leila already is in a band when she auditions for Jack’s Lair, I imagined there’d be more legal talk. I definitely expected more details on the transition, the upcoming tour and her rights. Yes, there is a bit talk of this, but personally I’d appreciated a deeper take on the music business. For a story revolving around a band, there’s awfully little talk of the music industry, what they do in the studio, and the legal actions.

Of course, we also have the erotic love affair. Another way to put it is insta love. They feel instant attraction. Sure, this is a real thing. But since they spend very little – at least shown– time together, I feel this is what the love is based on. I for one could not understand the pull at all. The time they spend together isn’t enough for me to believe in this love, which they later profess and is rather strong. I don’t feel what they feel, despite being told from both characters’ POV.

Maybe the problem is the POVs. Leila and Jack sound exactly the same. Apart from them sounding the same, Leila was at times a rather unlikable character. She believes she knows best at everything. Then we have boys falling at her feet as well. She’s beautiful. She’s special. But how? I read through the whole book and still can’t come up with what made her stand out against every other heroine out there. It doesn’t mean she is the worst, she’s just one among many others. Another thing, which I will spoil if spelling it out, is her reaction to a certain that event regarding her family. She handles this very easily, and there is no greater amount time spent on explore it.

My main problem, after all, is the misleading blurb and lacking plot and pacing. The characters aren’t interesting enough – despite there being a ton of them – to keep up an interest when there’s close to no plot. And what little plot there is have been dragged out on way too many pages. The characters walk around ignoring feelings – and not the angst filled type – while doing nothing special. The last 10% would’ve interested me had they come around the 50% mark. 

Now things are left on a cliffhanger. I’ll admit I might pick the next book up to see what will happen, but I know I won’t be rushing to do so. This is, after all, the author’s debut and I’ll probably pick up another of hers, just not this particular series. If you’re just looking for an easy read, this is the one for you. It’s easy to keep up with what little is happening, and nothing too heavy. But, as explained, I expected more details and further character development.