Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Series Spotlight – Preload by Scarlett Cole

Part 2
Since I got rather wordy in my enthusiasm for this series, I thought it best to break it into two parts so as not to overwhelm anyone reading this whom might be interested in reading this wonderful series.
(Be interested, Be Very Interested)
Nikan Rebuilt

I wanted to start my reading year of 2018 with a bang.  I was reading a different book and while I was enjoying it well enough it didn’t have the wow factor I was looking for.  So when I got notice this book had downloaded, I put the other book aside and picked this one right away.  Based on how much I enjoyed the first two books in this series, I thought Nikan Rebuilt would be a winner.  And boy was it ever.

This is a second chance at love story.  Nikan and Jenny both grew up in the foster care system, both in group homes.  While their lives before they ended up in the system were horrendous, Nikan was fortunate to end up in a very good group home with very caring staff and fellow residents he bonded with to the point where they became more than best friends, they became brothers and formed the band Preload which has gone on to become an extremely famous heavy metal band.  We have already seen 3 of the band members get their story, now it’s Nikan’s turn.  He and Jenny meet in high school when Jenny is being bullied and Nikan saves her.  From that moment, they become a couple and though both very young, they were very much in love and thought they would last forever.

Fast forward a number of years, Nikan and the band are very successful and one night while on tour, Dikan makes a mistake that changes the course of his life and Jenny ends things and disappears.

Now it’s current time and eight years later.  Jenny has returned and is temporarily head of the group home that Nikan and the rest grew up in.  Because they all are still very much involved with the home and the boys living there, Nikan runs into Jenny again and his feelings for Jenny are just as deep and all encompassing as they ever were and Jenny is still greatly in love with Nikan but what he did devastated her and she is doubtful she can forgive him.  Nikan knows how badly he screwed up and how much he lost and he just wants a chance to show her who he is now.
That’s the outline of the story and now I have to start the raving and rave I will do.  This book is incredible.  Every woman should have a Nikan.  Yep he screwed up and badly.  But his explanation for what happened was believable and makes the reader much more sympathetic.  As the oldest, he’s always been the mother hen of the group and does what’s best for them rather than himself.  For example, he doesn’t really like doing heavy metal and would like to change it up but he knows another member of the group uses it as an outlet for his rage.  It’s Nikan who arranges for them all to live in the same house as it’s something that Jordan needs because of his issues.
But now Nikan has to look after his own problems and concentrate less on the other members, especially since getting Jenny to forgive him and give him another chance.  He’s at a turning point in his life and the author does such a great job in letting reader ‘feel’ his confusion and frustration and his longing for Jenny and his guilt for what he did that split them up.  He’s one of the best heroes I’ve read in a while – and I’ve read some really good ones.

I would say that Nikan makes the book but Jenny is such a wonderful heroine that she deserves as much credit for this being such a great read as he does.  She’s still very deeply in love but she’s clear with him that she doesn’t trust him, that he needs to earn it back if that’s even possible.  One thing that sets this book higher than many they talk things through.  The both realize that they have to be open and honest if there is any hope for them.  There’s no big misunderstandings, they are both mature and intelligent people.
I say this in each of the Preload reviews but something else that really sets these ones above for me is they take place in Toronto, a city I’ve visited many a time.  One scene takes place at Rogers Centre (though it will always be Skydome to me) and as a family we would go there 4 or 5 times a summer to catch the Jays.  Eaton’s centre is mentioned and as I’ve been there quite often I can close my eyes and see it.  And most of all Ms. Cole mentions Tim Horton’s a lot.  Now not many people outside of Canada know this probably but there is almost a symbiotic relationship between “Timmies” and most Canadians.  It’s the go to place for coffee – though I myself stop at Mickey D’s to pick up my morning coffee on the way to work.  But EVERYONE knows about Timmies.  The author married a Canadian and lived in Canada for a while so she really ‘gets’ things.

Something else that gets mentioned in this book that puts it way up high is her referencing the struggle that Indigenous  People went through for many years and are still struggling with to this day to what was done to them.  The Canadian government, in their unbelievable and unconscionable arrogance stole the children away from their parents and put them in ‘schools’ were they were stripped of their culture, their language, everything that made them an important nation.
A great deal of thanks goes to the late Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip for letting the average Canadian know about this great dark part of Canada’s history.

The inclusion of this storyline makes this a very emotional book.  Nikan father was First Nations and after ignoring his heritage for most of his life, this is something he starts considering.  I felt this really added something special to the book.  It wasn’t done in any kind of preachy tone at all, but more of an added feature to the story.

Grade: 5 out of 5

Lennon Reborn

And now we come, sadly, to the final book of this amazing series about the heavy metal band Preload.  They started with The Purest Hook which was actually part of a different series and then carried on as their own series with Jordan Reclaimed.  I am SO going to miss these guys though I can go back and ‘see’ them again in rereads, but it won’t be quite the same.

Lennon McCartney – yep, he knows, is the youngest band member and the jerk of the group.  Throughout the series, he’s been the one to say stupid and crass things and he hasn’t fully engaged with the other four.  But despite this, the others still consider him their brother and ad the drummer, a very vital part of the group.  But every so often in previous books Ms. Cole would drop just the smallest of hints that that who we were seeing wasn’t the real Lennon so anticipation for his story has been building.  By now he’s the only one who hasn’t found a love interest and it’s not long into the story when we find out why.
Lennon had such a sad and traumatic childhood that he doesn’t understand the concept of love and as a result of being completely ignored by this young teenage mother, he is unable to really connect with anyone which explains why he isn’t as close to his ‘brothers’.  He also constantly expects them to reject him so he self-sabotages himself.  He’s always been more of a loner but with all his band members finding the love of their lives, he’s even more isolated and envy has crept in.

And his mind never gives him a rest.  It’s constantly racing, telling he’s no good, everyone will leave him and he’ll all alone.  It’s heartbreaking reading his inner dialogue thoughts.  The only thing that really gives him any real happiness is his drumming

This is where his head’s at when his whole life is turned upside down.  The band is involved in a bus crash and Lennon is hurt in a life altering way.  Dr. Georgia Starr is a legendary neurosurgeon who happens to see the crash and she jumps into action trying to save the victims.  When it’s Lennon’s turn, he pleads with her to just let him go.  But from the moment she touches him there is an almost electric current between them and Georgia know she will do whatever it takes to heal Lennon from his demons.
Georgia has her own battles to deal with.  She’s the only girl in her misogynistic family and despite her incredible talent as a doctor, her father and brothers are constantly judging and belittling her even though she’s the best neurosurgeon in the family.  Added to that is the fact her father and brother resent her since her beloved grandfather left the apartment building she lives in to her and no one else.  So both of these two people are struggling.

I don’t think I have enough words to say how much I enjoyed this book and indeed, this whole series.  The reader can feel the pain Lennon went through in his childhood and how it’s affected his whole life.  Even the good things are tainted with his self-doubt and low self-esteem.  Although it takes him a while to let Georgia know the particulars, she still sees he is in a great deal of pain tries to help him and reassure Lennon that she is there for him.
Lennon in turn, wants to show Georgia that there is more to life than just work.  While he is really impressed with her talents as a doctor, he wants to see her life more balanced.  They are really the exact person the other needs and both need the other.  They are simply wonderful.

This isn’t meant as a criticism, as much as a wish though.  The other books in the series take place in Toronto, a city I know, while not that well, still well enough to know many of the locations the author mentions.  Lennon Reborn however, takes place mainly in NYC.  This is the city Georgia works in and close to the accident.  Lennon has had to stay behind to recuperate and sent the rest of his ‘brothers’ home to Toronto and their families even though he does need them.  This is just another example of his tendency for self-sabotage.  But Georgia keeps him holding on. But it was real nice to almost have ties to the setting.
I also with there were a few more scenes between the band members, Dred, Jordan, Elliot, Nic and Lennon.  The bond between these five is one of the real gems of this series.  But again there aren’t as many as Lennon is off by himself for the majority of this book.

The third wish is some kind of feedback on their music.  As the members find love, their pain is directed into heavy metal and as they each find happiness, some of them want to change the tenor of their music.  It would have been nice to have an epilogue to the epilogue to see how Preload change of direction fared.  But other than those wishes, this book is simply a wonderful read about overcoming hardship and tragedy.
Jordan Reclaimed is my favourite book of all of them, but this one is a very close second and the whole Preload series gets huge kudos and recommendations from me.  As I said at the beginning, I’m really going to miss these guys.

Grade: 5 out of 5
Final Thoughts: I do believe that of all the series in all genres I’ve read over the years, Preload is the best I’ve ever read book for book.  There have been other series I’ve loved, but the love has varies over the course of them. One or two might have been A books and then a couple of others may have been B or B- books.  But Every. Single. Book in this series is an A or A+ read for me.
Every one is an emotional wringer in a totally wonderful way and I loved seeing each one of them overcome their broken childhoods with the help of the women they love.  I know this is a series I’ll be reading over and over again and it gets the highest recommendation that I can give.


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