Backstage Pass by Riley ScottBackstage Pass by Riley Scott is a celebrity romance with an out-of-control rock goddess and her new PR rep. It’s a little grittier than I’m used to seeing in celebrity romances, and it works well.

Christina Villanova has been hired to do the one thing no one else has been able to: reshape the public’s perception of Raven. The singer-songwriter is talented beyond belief, but her demons have led her to embrace the sex and drugs that are synonymous with rock and roll, and her latest stint in the tabloids is even worse than her usual antics. Hitting the road with Raven’s crew brings Chris deep into a lifestyle she hasn’t come close to experiencing since her hard partying college years, while giving her a chance to get to know Raven.

Raven knows one thing for sure, that she doesn’t need some stranger to tell her how to live her life. When Chris doesn’t advise her to cut out the booze, drugs, or women, and instead suggests she add some things she enjoys, like volunteering for animal causes, Raven realizes that Chris is one of the few people to really see her in a very long time. They quickly learn they can’t stay away from each other—can whatever it is that they have survive when Raven’s behaviour spirals?

The Characters

I feel like I shouldn’t care for either of these characters, and yet I do. I can’t help it. Chris knows better than to get involved with a client, even if she is a longtime fan, and it’s not like Raven is her first rodeo. She’s also sort of stringing along her best friend, not fully wanting to give up on the chance at a steady, comfortable love even if it can’t compare to the explosive attraction she has for Raven.

And Raven… if being selfish were a competitive sport, she would reign as world champion. Not only that, she’s also just generally a hot mess. But there’s something irresistible about seeing them come together, moving from a business relationship to a passionate, consuming one. I suspect that what we see on the page is just the beginning of the growth they will each have as they accompany the other into the next stages of their lives.

The Writing Style

Reading a new-to-me author is always an adventure because I never know if I’m going to like them, love them, or walk away and never look back. I had never read anything by Riley Scott before, and I I was more than pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It’s very well plotted and perfectly paced, and I found myself wanting to shut out the world so I could just focus on Backstage Pass. Like I said in the intro, it’s grittier than I’m used to seeing in a celebrity romance, which made reading it alongside Lost in the Starlight an interesting exercise, and it just worked so well.

The Pros

Rich, complex characters. A scorching hot romance. I liked everything about Backstage Pass.

The Cons

I’m going to let out a big spoiler because I know it’s a dealbreaker for many readers. If you don’t want to be spoiled, skip to the next section.

Still with me? Chris breaks up with Raven because she walks in on her with two other women and it’s explicitly on the page. People who can’t do cheating in books will hate this aspect, so you’ll either want to skip this one, or skim past the scene. It’s a pivotal moment in the story and for Raven’s character growth, and for what it is, it’s realistic, it’s handled well, and it very much makes sense for this book. I just know that’s a hard stop for some readers, so I want to make sure you have the choice whether to read it or not.

The Conclusion

This is the first book I’ve read by Riley Scott, and it won’t be the last. Backstage Pass grabbed me by the throat and I can’t wait to see what this author comes out with next.

Excerpt from Backstage Pass by Riley Scott

Chris had to force herself to make up her mind. Rocky road versus mint chip seemed to be such a trivial decision in light of all that she was feeling, but she nonetheless stepped up and rattled off her order like an obedient child.

“Mint chip in a waffle cone, please,” she asked, prompting a nod of approval from Raven.

“Solid choice,” she said, giving a wink as she laid a few dollar bills on the counter. “I would have pegged you for vanilla.”

“Ouch,” Chris said, her tone light and playful. “You really think I’m that boring?”

“It wasn’t meant to be an insult,” Raven said, holding up her hands quickly to avert the damage. “Vanilla is actually quite an interesting choice. You just have to see it clearly. It’s not boring. It’s just for people who can find adventure in the ordinary.”

Chris knitted her brow and looked deeply into Raven’s eyes. After giving it a moment for Raven’s comment to resonate, she said, “I never know what to expect when you open your mouth. Sometimes you’ve got quippy comebacks. And then other times, you eloquently string together deep philosophic thoughts on life.”

“Kind of like vanilla ice cream,” Raven said, pursing her lips together and nodding matter-of-factly. “You never really know what you’re going to get, even though it’s a classic and you think you’ve got it figured out. Somehow, it still holds a little element of surprise.”

“Did you just call yourself vanilla?” Chris asked, winking in Raven’s direction.

“I’m anything but vanilla, honey,”Raven said, returning the wink and then quickly directing her attention back to the woman at the counter.

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781594934902
  • Publisher: Bella Books

Riley Scott Online 

Note: I received a free review copy of Backstage Pass by Riley Scott. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.