Book Review: After Hours Redemption by Kianna Alexander
I’m absolutely loving what Harlequin are doing with their covers at the moment. It’s excellent to see Black models getting paid to be on these stunning covers, and chosen with obvious care to really represent the characters inside. 5 stars to the art department for this one in particular; it’s spot on, from Blaine’s locs to the recording studio setting.
Talking of that recording studio - this was also a really intriguing setting for a romance, and not one I think I’ve seen done before, which took us behind the scenes of the recording industry and Atlanta’s R+B scene. Eden, the heroine, is a songwriter, and the hero Blaine owns a small record label. The pair of them have History, in a bad way, because seven years ago Blaine caved to industry pressure and cut Eden and her cousin Ainsley from the label, taking their friend Cambria on to solo stardom instead of pressing ahead with their girl group.
Honestly… Cambria was an actual villain here and I really didn’t get how this wasn’t focussed on. Cambria knew her friends had talent, knew Eden was a songwriter, and… Cambria’s now off touring the world being super famous and presumably rich, and Eden and Ainsley are struggling to scrape up a couple of thousand dollars for an insurance co-pay. Cambria rocked up at one point in the story and I honestly expected Eden to cut her dead (as Cambria apparently did with her friends) and… it didn’t happen. It was a really puzzling sub-plot for me; maybe it’ll get resolved later in the series (looks like Ainsley will get her own book).
Returning to Blaine… he does get called on his having treated Eden badly. He basically is repeating the pattern with his new protegee, a young singer called Naiya B who Eden is writing songs for, when the major label backing the album don’t want Naiya to ‘get political’ and put pressure on Blaine. There’s a fantastic scene where Eden tells him that all their problems can be traced back to his absolute inability to stand up for someone other than himself, and I wanted to CHEER. It was a perfect example of setting up a male love interest with massive flaws and having the woman point them out to him, causing him to have an existential crisis and rethink his entire life philosophy. Aka, giving the story a Hunsford moment, to reference the classic scene from Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth Bennet verbally tears Mr Darcy a new one.
The chemistry between Eden and Blaine is always off the charts, and there are some very sexy love scenes in here, although it’s obvious from the start that they really aren’t approaching the relationship with the same goals in mind. In fact, it’s a refreshing change from the norm; Blaine seems to think they are building a future whereas for Eden it’s obviously casual because Blaine’s incapable of listening to her concerns and therefore isn’t worthy of getting serious with until he changes his ways.
Where this fell down a bit for me was that it took Blaine’s family, specifically his brother Gage, to reinforce the point Eden had already made very clearly at the big confrontation, which felt really unnecessary and in fact took away from the impact of Eden confronting Blaine. Overall it’s very good and puts a fresh twist on some old tropes. The few things I quibbled with didn’t stop me from believing in a happy ending for Blaine and Eden, and I definitely plan to read more books in this series. 5 stars.