A.B. Gayle's Reviews > Have A Little Faith In Me

Have A Little Faith In Me by Brad Vance
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it was amazing
bookshelves: glbt-romance, shelf-32, shelf-23

"Words of love, so soft and tender, won't win a girl's heart anymore.
If you love her, then you must send her
Somewhere where she's never been before."

John Phillips, The Mamas & the Papas

It's appropriate to start this review with lyrics, because this is a story about music and the words are kinda appropriate.

I've been a fan of Brad's writing for years. Each book has been different. From raunchy BDSM erotica to realistic gritty historicals to jock sports romance. There's been animals, disabilities, kidnappings, Greek islands, so when I heard he was writing about rockstars. I figured it was just Brad trying something different.

Now I love music, but I'm not a big fan of the sub genre, so I didn't rush out to buy it when it was first released. But I decided to give it a go when it finally escaped from the KU jail.

For a couple of chapters, I was afraid I was going to get yet another "Rockstar Romance" with its predictable bad boys. My fears were compounded when I started ticking off all the cliches: rock concert, pushy manager, hair, tatts, posturing, the vibes, the ego, the angst, the melodrama.

Then it changed.

And Brad Vance led me down a path "I've never been before."

Like Rocky, his gutsy Rockstar hero, "Have a Little Faith" breaks a lot of the unwritten MM romance rules. For starters, God and religion play a major role. The harsh reality of being gay is explored. He absolutely shatters the one which insists as many scenes as possible should involve the two MCs interacting as they explore their growing relationship. Then there are the ones about backstory that I often espouse: split it up, spread it out, have it revealed at relevant points and avoid the dreaded flashback!

It's almost funny reading reviews which complain about each of these rules being broken. Because, for me, the book works well precisely for that reason. And it works because Brad, as a talented author, knows those rules, questions them and then breaks them.

In this book, who the characters are and why they are like they are IS the story.

The fact that they get together at the end is made so much more believable because we've seen who they are. What went into their formation. Yet also why they are so right for each other. Why Rocky, the strong defiant survivor, a man who is prepared to take on the world would be interested in a closeted homophobic jock, no matter how hot he is. Why they need each other. What each can bring to the relationship. Why it will work. Why insta lust but avowed hatred can turn to love.

Rather than describe how this happens, I'll let the author take us into the mind of the Preacher's Son who was raised to believe sodomy was a sin before he even knew the meaning of the word.
But as he started to think for himself, he realized that the:
....whole system is all about sinning. You can have the sin, as long as you’re punished. The system needs you to sin, so that it can continually re-exert control over you through the punishment, so they can point to you and say to the others, ‘let that be a lesson!
And later
....you can’t be tempted to sin if you don’t watch TV, or go to the movies, or listen to the radio, because they were all about sex, sex, sex. The Reverend rarely talked about other kinds of temptation. He never admonished any of his significantly obese parishioners to resist the urge to overeat, never admonished his business-owning parishioners not to cheat on their taxes. No, it was sex that was the Reverend’s preoccupation.
And when the Christian lobby grew more political
If you didn’t use negative words in your speech, the enemy was defanged – they couldn’t run a pull quote displaying your ignorance and hatred if all the words were about love, and defense, and “building strong families.”
....You didn’t have to say that the gays wanted to destroy marriage, if you said you were “defending marriage, protecting marriage.” You didn’t have to say that gay people couldn’t marry because gay sex was a sin and sin put you outside God’s love; you just said that “marriage is about love, the love between a man and a woman,” and everyone knew what you meant. You didn’t have to say that gay people were unfit parents when instead you could say that “a child needs a mother and a father.
Note, these quotes are scattered through the book (just like backstory usually is) but I'm pulling them together as they so accurately reflect the thought patterns of a sector of society which continues to have a huge impact.

And it wasn't just about gay people. It was anyone who was different.
There were plenty of people around him who were racist. Miss June was always talking about the “damn niggers,” but she’d be immediately told by the other old ladies to keep her voice down –it wasn’t thinking it, but saying it, that was wrong. “They can’t help it if they were born that way” was about the kindest thing the other old birds had to say on the subject.
....Like the secret codes used to denounce the gays, cloaked in positivity, everyone (white) said that “it wasn’t segregation, just that everyone would just be happier and better off, keeping with their own people.”
But Rocky is sensitive enough to question and is brave enough to embrace the truth when he realizes he is one of "them".
Nobody’s immune to the culture around them. It soaks into you in ways you can’t even see, even as you declare yourself free of it.
And once he escapes those restrictions,
It was freeing to Rocky, to think this way. Everything in his life had been so regimented, the idea that these things could just be “random,” just…happen impromptu, startled him.
But the process took time. There were stages to go through. A rite of passage lined with thorns.
No more gods on posters, no more gods on screens, the ones who had taken the place of the invisible God he’d been raised to worship, the God in whom he’d lost his faith long ago. Now, finally, he had a flesh and blood god he could touch. And worship, with his own flesh.
He saw so many pictures of “hot” guys, shirtless, with great bodies and decent-enough features, but in most of those faces, there was just no heat there. They stood and posed and to Rocky, they were like empty vessels. So lacking in that extra something that they just sucked the air out of the scene.
Obviously, Rocky is not just another HAWT rock star! So how does a man like this end up with Dex?

I'll leave you to find out, because you really need to know who Dex is, to understand that.

After I finished, I went back to the blogs Brad wrote around that time.

Take character's backstory for example. This blog he wrote back in July 2014 sum up why he wrote the book this way: https://bradvanceauthor.com/2014/07/0...

There's lots of good stuff there, but this quote stood out.

But for me, if you just say (and you’ve heard this pet peeve before), “Here’s Rocky the Rock Star and he Really Rocks, here’s some sex,” then why should I care if he falls in love or not? If characters are nothing more than the same paper dolls with different outfits (rock star, soldier, barbarian, billionaire, vampire, collect ’em all)…who cares?

And I suppose, I think, I guess, that a lot of readers have their own ideas of “the rock star” or “the billionaire,” and are only looking for the paper doll, they don’t want an author to get between them and their idea of what a hot rock star is like. I don’t get that. I like, no, I want, need, to surrender to an author, I want that author to create a real person who I want to spend time with.

And "surrendering to an author, means being willing to trust them. Why? Because he respects the intelligence and sensitivity of his fans. He loves us and that's why he's interested in leading us into places we've never been before.

Perhaps by veering so far from the norm, it can't be classified as a true romance. But it makes an interesting read. Different from the norm. You end up caring deeply for both characters. They are influenced by and the products of their environment, but it doesn't change who they are underneath. The fighter and the protector.

So if you're brave enough to take that journey. Do.

And when you've finished, if, like me, you're interested in the creative process. Here's links to some other blog posts about the book which was originally envisioned as a series of sexy traditional rockstar genre shorts to make him heaps of money. This one may not have achieved the same reward, but it is a great depiction of men who have had to overcome the adversity surrounding their upbringing. A much more memorable and rewarding journey.


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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 18, 2016 – Shelved

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