Author: Kennedy Ryan
Series: Flow #1
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: 3/2/2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Multi-Cultural Romance
Page Count: 752
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out.
I’ve been doing it for years.
I may not have a musical gift of my own,
but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary.
And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary.
Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key.
All that’s left is friendship and work.
He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true.
I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart.
It’s wild, reckless, disobedient.
And it remembers all the things I want to forget.
4.5 stars- Unabashed honesty and unwavering love
This was a different take on the traditional “rockstar/musician” romance. The hero is an up and coming rapper and the heroine a long-time friend who recently began managing the hero. The full length novel takes off about 8 years after Flow, the prequel, ends. While I didn’t love Flow and wasn’t enamored with the couple, the writing did stand out. I could tell there was a significant story just waiting to be told, and Grip brought that story to life in more ways than I expected.
The book is an alternating, first-person narrative following Bristol and Marlon, known as Grip. The characters are from vastly different walks of life, tied together by Bristol’s estranged brother. Both points-of-view were distinct and had an authenticity not found in many first person alternating narratives. The depth of both characters was fantastic. Neither was who they appeared to be on the surface and the author never stopped revealing more layers to their personalities. While I had trouble connecting with Bristol in the prequel, the insights I gained in Grip made me more sympathetic to her and her defenses. The romance between the main characters was profound and withstood an unrelenting barrage of internal and external pressures. Grip and Bristol proved their dedication to one another even before they agreed to be together romantically and never stopped showing just how committed they were. The emotions were palpable and there was never any question as to how deep their feelings ran.
What struck me most about this book was the unabashed raw honesty from Grip and Bristol. Miss Kennedy doesn’t shy away from real-life topics relevant to the relationship and current social issues. These moments were woven so fluidly into the storyline that it was seamless, yet it forced the reader to sit up, take notice, and reflect. I appreciated how the author never alienates one character to elevate the other. She offers the whole view with a full kaleidoscope of angles. It made for a powerful story that shows how much people can learn from one another as well as the transcending power of love.
Although Grip was an incredible story written with a finesse different from many other contemporary m/f romances, I got hung up on the circles of angst. It felt never-ending at times and I grew tired of witnessing the main characters trudge through so many difficulties. Some of the conflicts and situations were so poignant and connected to me on another level, while others felt overboard and left me restless to get to the end. I liked the ultimate resolutions of the conflicts and was overjoyed to see this couple get some much deserved happiness, but I was emotionally taxed by the end of the book.
Often you can tell when an author is extraordinarily passionate about the story they’re telling. The entire time I read Grip, even when I grew frustrated with the characters’ self-sabotage, I felt the passion Miss Ryan had for these two, their story, and their love. It radiated from the pages and transformed this from a good read to an amazing story. I’ll definitely be looking for more from this author in the future. Her willingness to tell the whole story and address social issues through her characters while delivering a solid romance is laudable.