Los Angeles-based stylist Nico Takahashi loves his job—or at least, he used to. Feeling fed up and exhausted from the cutthroat, gossip-fueled business of Hollywood, Nico daydreams about packing it all in and leaving for good. So when Grady Dawson—sexy country music star and rumored playboy—asks Nico to style him, Nico is reluctant. But after styling a career-changing photo-shoot, Nico follows Grady to Nashville where he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Grady’s charms. Can Nico make peace with show business and all its trappings, or will Grady’s public persona get in the way of their private attraction to each other?
I’ll admit I’m a huge country music fan so right away I was in love with the idea of a love story involving a gay country music star. I always like stories that center around the music industry and getting to see glimpses of life on the road…the bus, roadies, groupies, etc. Broken Records by Lilah Suzanne did not disappoint. Grady Dawson is a huge star and written in such a way you just can’t help but love him. He’s a true rags to riches story who is a country boy deep down with sweet emotions and unfortunately so popular the paparazzi he can’t really live the life he wants. Plus, his supposed sexual exploits are all over the tabloids. Nico Takahashi is a Hollywood stylist who finds his newest client Grady irresistible. The two are hot from the get go and Nico really falls for the real Grady, but the public lifestyle is not what Nico is looking for.
I really loved Nico and Grady as a couple. They were super-hot and sexy together but it was really romantic story. I loved Grady most because he puts his heart out for Nico knowing how easy it is for people to take advantage of him. Nico’s business partner and friend, Gwen, adds humor to the story. The two make a fun pair as they each try to figure out their love lives.
Overall an easy and romantic read with a HFN. Just getting to the end was a bumpy road and look forward to hopefully reading more about Nico and Grady in the future.
Four and a half
Grady was kind enough to share a letter he wrote to himself from five years ago. After getting the most important questions out of the way first, Future Grady has some pretty great advice for himself. Read and enjoy!
Dear Grady 5 years ago,
First of all, yes you still have all of your hair. I knew that would be your first question. Second, I’m not gonna tell you how or when but you’re getting ready to be successful beyond all of your wildest dreams. You’re also getting ready to make a lot mistakes because of that success, but I’m not telling you about that either. You have to walk through it to become me, and as hard as it was (will be?) we had to do it. The thing I do want to tell you is that you’re going to meet that person you’ve been waiting for. The one you dream about. The one you think you’ll never find because right now you still can’t believe that anyone will find you worthy of loving or sticking around for. You are worthy. But you’ll learn that the hard way soon enough. For now, on those nights that you find yourself alone in the dark, wondering if that’s where you’ll always be, you should know this: He’s so beautiful. He kisses you like the only thing that exists in the whole world is your mouth on his mouth, and it is. He stays.
Keep your chin up kid,
Grady presses his lips flat, looks up at the ceiling again to gather himself, sniffs and nods, then tugs Nico’s foot closer by his ankle. “Do you think… If we’d met at a bar. Or through a friend of a friend. Or the gym.” Grady’s thumb strokes the tender skin of Nico’s calf beneath the hem of his pants. “If we had just been two regular guys? We really could have been something.”
There’s a question in his voice, a hesitancy that maybe Nico would have rejected him eventually anyway. Nico scoots across the cramped bunk, crowds against Grady, shoulder to shoulder. “Well, we never would have met at the gym because I would have taken one look at you and gone home to mourn the body I’ll never have by consuming gallons of ice cream.”
Grady bumps his shoulder. “Shut up, you’re gorgeous.” He tips his head against the wall and grins. “If I’d first seen you at a bar I probably would have humiliated myself by trying to win you over with bad karaoke and shameless flirting.”
Nico’s eyebrows raise. “You mean to tell me you’ve been holding back on me? You have a level of flirting that’s even more shameless?”
“Oh yeah. You ain’t seen nothin’, sweetheart.”
“That is truly terrifying.”
Grady laughs, bright and uninhibited. Nico is so relieved to hear it, a moment of light in the darkness. Grady’s hand rests on Nico’s knee, Nico watches his own hand brush his fingers there, but he doesn’t linger.
“We aren’t, though. Just two random guys.”
Grady’s fingers flex, curving over his kneecap. “No.”
Nico exhales harshly. “I have never wanted to be a groupie so badly.”
Grady shoves at his leg. “Come on, you didn’t really think that I would do that to you—”
“In my weaker, more insecure moments?” Nico scrunches his face, embarrassed. “Yeah, I did.”
“You think that little of me, huh?” He says it with a teasing grin, but Nico’s heart sinks.
“No, Grady. I think you’re…” A million adjectives flash through his head: beautiful, amazing, stunning, compassionate, kind, generous. A supernova. He settles on, “Really special.”
Grady gives a skeptical lift of his eyebrows. “Uh oh. I’m really special, huh?”
“I’m so, so into you and it’s…” He cringes at the words but it’s true, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
“Oh lord.” Grady laments with a laugh. “Not that, please.”
“I’m the guy on the sidelines. I’m the one who makes everyone else shine. I don’t belong there, in the spotlight. I like that at the end of the day I can go home and just walk away from the cameras and the red carpets and the scrutiny. And you—you’re a star. And you can have anyone.”
Grady turns, the cramped space of the bunk making his limbs bump and nudge and curl around Nico’s body. During Grady’s shows, in the moment just before he starts singing the opening line of “Broken Records,” there’s this pause, this moment suspended in the air when the audience is silent and waiting and doesn’t even dare to inhale because in that moment, Grady’s soul is laid bare. He looks at Nico just like that and Nico can’t breathe around it.
“I don’t want anyone,” he says, voice low and serious. “I want you. How do you not get that?”
Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she has also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the fan fiction community. She is also the author of Interlude Press books Spice and Pivot and Slip. Broken Records is Book One in Lilah’s Spotlight Series.
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