The first time I met Jax Blackwood things went a little sideways.
In my defense, I didn’t know he was Jax Blackwood—who expects a legendary rock star to be shopping for groceries? More importantly, a blizzard was coming and he was about to grab the last carton of mint-chocolate chip.
Still, I might have walked away, but then he smugly dared me to try and take the coveted ice cream. So I kissed him. And distracted that mint-chip right out of his hands.
Okay, it was a dirty move, but desperate times and all that. Besides, I never expected he’d be my new neighbor.
An annoying neighbor who takes great pleasure in reminding me that I owe him ice cream but would happily accept more kisses as payment. An irresistible neighbor who keeps me up while playing guitar naked–spectacularly naked–in his living room.
Clearly, avoidance is key. Except nothing about Jax is easy to ignore—not the way he makes me laugh, or that his particular brand of darkness matches mine, or how one look from him melts me faster than butter under a hot sun.
Neither of us believes in love or forever. Yet we’re quickly becoming each other’s addiction. But we could be more. We could be everything.
All we have to do is trust enough to fall.
There’s always a risk when a romance author takes on sensitive topics – ones that readers have strong opinions on and ones that don’t follow a similar pattern for any two people. Society seems more apt to judge and to criticize instead of trying to understand and to sympathize that every person’s experience is different and that no one knows what someone else’s life is like because despite perceptions and assumptions, the reality of things is never what they seem.
Jax’s backstory is not a pretty one, but it’s one that needs to be told and understood because without that knowledge, the dynamics of Kill John, its implosion, and its future would not make sense and it’s pivotal that clarity is obtained, especially due to Jax’s present journey and how his past has led him to now.
Ever since meeting Jax Blackwood in the previous books in the VIP series, I’ve sensed there’s more to him than meets the eye; there’s an uncontainable darkness inside of him – one that ravages his body with depression and anxiety – a combination of imbalance that is unrelenting in its work to overwhelm Jax as he attempts to calm the maelstrom inside of him and keep it at bay so that he can continue to do what needs to be done, even when he’s more than willing to give up…just like he did over two years ago.
As much as readers may disagree with Jax’s choices and the things he has experienced due to those decisions, the havoc inside of him is debilitating, and Kristen Callihan illustrates Jax’s true circumstances brilliantly and with so much depth that it’s easy to see what he’s truly up against and how little his fame and fortune means to him when he’s fighting the battle of his life all due to his horrific demons.
Stella Button Grey may be ‘average’ in all ways that society cares about, but her giving and caring nature is extraordinary, which means that her inner beauty shines brightly despite her insecurities and the fact that she has no-one to champion her like she champions everybody else.
Jax and Stella give each other what they’ve desperately needed, and their friendship evolves into something more naturally. Their bond is deep and it centers around the idea that they are enough…that their ‘issues’ don’t make them damaged…they make them human and they’re enough simply because of who they are – warts and all, and that lesson is important for not only the characters in the story but readers as well and while it’s one that may take time to understand and even more to practice, it’s invaluable to learn.
I’ve loved this series since Idol was released because they’re not typical rocker romances; they focus on issues that matter and ones that resonate with readers and the heroes and heroines are uniquely and realistically portrayed, which makes a connection to these characters easily obtained as well as lasting.
4.5 Poison Apples
I clear my throat. “While I was eating my ice cream—”
He snorts, but remains tense.
“I thought about how you looked familiar to me.”
“It was the guilt haunting you.”
“Or … And I’m just throwing this out there. You’re Jax Blackwood.”
He actually flinches. “Fuck. You recognized me.”
“It was bound to happen. John? Really?”
His chin tips in a pugnacious angle. “It’s my name. John is … me. Jax is who I am onstage.”
I picture him performing, all electric energy and raw passion and sheer talent. It’s a sight to behold. Hell, a couple of really hot fantasies have been induced by that sight.
While I’m lost in a teen fantasy, his eyes dart around like he’s expecting someone to pop out from behind a snow mound and take his picture. Then his gaze snags on me. My expression must be slightly punch drunk, because his entire body leans away from mine. Not exactly flattering to realize he’s afraid I’ll try to lick his face or something.
I snap my gaping mouth closed. “Oh, calm down. It’s not like I’m going to start squealing and try to grab your junk.”
His expression lightens a little. “I think if you grabbed my junk, I’d be the one squealing.”
“True. I have surprisingly strong hands.” When he stares at me in horror, I hold them up and wiggle my fingers. “Yoga. It’s highly effective.”
“My balls just flinched in terror.”
“Consider yourself warned.”
He snorts but then glances at our building. “You really live here?”
“Do you really think I hunted you down?”
John—because I can’t seem to think of him as Jax—runs his hand through his damp hair, which makes his biceps bunch and twitch. “Yeah … that does sound crazy.”
Crazy. This whole situation is. One day, I’m offered a four-month home in a dream condo, the next I’m standing on my stoop talking to a rock star. The biggest legend of my generation. I honestly don’t know how I’m not stammering right now.
“I can’t believe we’re neighbors,” I say without thinking.
His green eyes glint in the afternoon light, but he pauses and looks at me more closely. “You know, not to sound conceited here, but you’re kind of leering at me right now.”
My chin snaps up like I’ve been hit, even as my body flushes with embarrassment. Shit. I totally had been leering. No, not leering. But I had been staring at him in awe. Ugh. “Well, you do sound conceited. I was simply making polite eye contact.”
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.