A woman travels back in time to prevent a self-destructive rock star from committing suicide in Nutt’s (Stake and Dust, 2015, etc.) romance.
Emerson Violet “Evie” Reid is the president of the fan club for the band Civilized Heathens—a club that’s still going strong 10 years after its lead singer, heartthrob Bellamy Lovel, checked out of drug rehab and killed himself in a hotel room. (In his story, appearance, and persona, Lovel resembles the late singer/lyricist Michael Hutchence of the Australian band INXS.) Shortly before Lovel’s death, Evie, a nurse, had a chance to become his personal assistant, but she refused the offer. Now she wonders whether she could have saved him. It turns out that Evie’s friend Kelsey Parish knows a magical spell that could make another chance possible, so Evie travels back in time to her original decision point. After she agrees to work for Lovel, she has just three weeks to convince him that life is worth living—but she can’t reveal what she knows about the future. As thrilling as it is to see her idol alive again, Evie’s job won’t be easy; he’s moody, calls her “Book Marm,” and makes remarks such as “You must have some nice tits under that oversized blouse.” Evie resists his attempts at seduction, which only serves to intrigue him, and as he responds to her care, he begins to bare his soul. But is she in time to rescue him from self-destruction? Nutt brings out some very creaky tropes here, including the glamorous, desirable hero whose bad-boy behavior disguises his vulnerabilities; and the girl-next-door type whose nurturance, good listening skills, and patience get through to him when leggy supermodels can’t. It’s all patent wish-fulfillment fantasy, and the prose style doesn’t avoid cliché either, using terms such as “sweet urgency” and “slice of heaven” during passionate moments. That said, Nutt shows skill in making her characters’ emotions feel plausible, romantic, and erotic—and they will strike home for readers who relate to the novel’s fangirl scenario.
Time travel and late-1990s rock add a twist to a standard good-woman/bad-boy romance.