Review: Listen to Me by Kristen Proby (Fusion #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

"Thank you."

My eyes whip to his. "For what?"

"For asking."

He squeezes my foot once, then lets go and I crawl across the coach to him. I still don't want to be held, but I lay my head in his lap and sign when he runs his fingers through my hair.

"Thank you," I whisper.

"For what?"

"Being here. Even though I didn't know I wanted you here."

His hand pauses for a moment, then resumes brushing gently through my hair.

"You don't ever have to thank me for being here."

"And you don't ever have to thank me for asking."

I've read quite a few of Kristen Proby's books in the past--her With Me in Seattle series, save for the last two books, and her Love Under the Big Sky series--and she's never failed to provide give us characters that aren't merely likable but are the kind that you can't help but become emotionally invested in, hoping that each of their stories end with happily-ever-afters. If I remember right--and please feel free to correct me if I'm mistakenly stating this--each of her past series are about families: the Montgomerys and their circle of friends in With Me in Seattle, the King twins and the Donovan brother-and-sister duo in Love Under the Big Sky, and the Boudreaux siblings in their eponymous series. The Fusion series is her first that involves five best friends--who are their own family--that live and co-own a successful restaurant in Portland called Seduction and find love and their own happy endings along the way. If the first book, Listen to Me, is a sign of things to come, then Fusion could easily become the author's best series to date.

Jake Knox turned his back on his band, Hard Knox, five years ago, and in turn, turned his life around since then. He's still writing songs, albeit for other artists, and is a renowned producer with a studio he owns and runs with one of his best friends and former band mate. But the musician and artist in him still craves to perform and when his other best friend encourages him to audition for the position of a weekend act at Seduction, an up and coming restaurant. He doesn't want to be Jake Knox; he's just Jake Keller. When he comes face to face with Addison Wade, the same woman who caught his attention during his impromptu open mic appearance at another establishment, the connection between them that was instantaneous is even more palpable. He's drawn to her like a moth to a flame, but he can sense she's wary and he doesn't want to push. He simply wants to be with her. But events in Jake's past have made him believe he brings nothing but devastation to those closest to him. Will Addison be the latest victim of his misplaced fears?

Addison Wade has had one bad experience with a bad boy rocker after another and she refuses to fall for another one. There seems to be something wrong with what she calls her "man finder" because it seems to be zeroing in on the guy at an open mic event, a guy who looks and sounds exactly like rock star Jake Knox. From the moment their gazes lock, Addie finds it difficult to look away, but she wants to move on from guys like him. They're nothing but trouble, until trouble walks into her restaurant and applies for the position of weekend musical act. He's Jake Knox so there was no doubting he'd get the job, but the doesn't mean he'll be anything more than another employee. Or so Addie was hoping for. He's Jake, and whether he uses Knox or Keller, there's no denying she wants him. He soon proves he isn't like the others and no matter how hard she tries, Addie knows that what she feels for Jake pales in comparison to those who came before him. Will she listen to the music her heart makes when she's with him or will she run again?

Listen to Me was a major book hangover waiting to happen. This had that combination of heart and heat that Kristen Proby is renowned for, but she also brings this balanced feeling of angst and humor that I like to see in my romance novels. Whether they're having intimate conversations or nonsensical exchanges, Jake and Addie are the kind of couple that easily bring a smile to my face and an "aww" to my lips. They're absolutely comfortable with each other, and in turn, that makes the reader feel at home with them. There's this familiarity that comes quickly, so much so that I wanted to give them a hug to comfort them when they were facing their toughest challenge as a couple while wanting to give them a hard shake so they would come to their senses and quit with the self-flagellation and punishing one for the hurt someone else has caused. But what do you expect from two people who are as filled with passion as these two? Whether it be with their careers, their friends, or with each other, Jake and Addie are passionate but can be playful.

The book was solely focused on Jake and Addie's love story most of the time, but it did a fantastic job in introducing readers to the other potential players in the series--Addie's four best friends, Cami, Mia, Kat, and Riley. What looks to be a secret crush on a best friend's brother was touched upon via Mia's older brother Landon and Cami, and with a bit of checking via Goodreads, their story is up next (and that cliffhanger ending has me wanting to know what happened to Landon). I am curious, though, about Brian, Cami's ex-husband, and wonder if he might be paired up with Riley (I'm getting this from one teeny, tiny reaction of Riley's I took note of in this first book). Jake's own circle of best friends--Christina and Kevin and Max and Tiffany--were equally as interesting and I liked how Christina and Max were Jake's much needed voices of reason. With an impressive cast of characters and a love story that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves a well-written romance, Listen to Me is a five-plus-starred 2016 favorite.

Release Date: 12 April 2016

Date Read: 10 April 2016

Learn more about Kristen Proby.

Pre-order Listen to Me on Amazon | B&N | Kobo.


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