VISUAL-KEI ROCK STAR by Shiree McCarver
Visual-Kei Rock Star by Shiree McCarver
Reviewed by Patrice F.
Sadie worked hard in her career as a dancer and choreographer after learning the hard way that she had no real family and that love was a lie, a fairy tale. Now she is faced with a dilemma in the form of her best friend’s younger brother, Suburu. Her sexual awareness of him is taboo for so many reasons. For countless years they’ve shared a dark secret, forming a connection that will never be broken by time or distance.
Suburu is a Japanese rising star in the entertainment industry; a child prodigy with a tragic and lonely history. He is also a man with a desire and hunger that can only be appeased by Sadie. His climb to the top as a visual-kei artist won’t be easy but he is willing to do whatever it takes to have the woman he loves by his side.
As a long-time visual-kei fan, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into this juicy novel. This story is written by a die-hard vis-kei fan for hardcore vis-kei fans everywhere. Just about every band named, songs included, is or has been a favorite for me. I could add a few to the mix along with suggestions about the leading man. For me, Suburu is a delectable mix of Buck-Tick frontman Atsushi Sakurai and J-rock guitar god miyavi. Of course, this left Sadie’s development open to a number of possibilities.
Now here’s where readers may run into a few problems. Anyone not familiar with this music genre might feel lost and sometimes stumble a bit. However, there’s enough amazing description and explanation that it will also trigger an interest in the bands, music, and scene, especially since it has grown away from being frowned upon as a style of music and look for dorks! The fact that it’s now embraced in the US and other countries outside of Japan is proof that there is a revival.
The novel spans roughly a large number of years chronicling a pair of lost and damaged souls who find one another, love, lose, and regain it all. It’s filled with realistic elements that breathe life into the plot and interaction. There’s healing, redemption and forgiveness for the lovers and the Chouda family, after a storm of greed, lust, betrayal, suffering, deception and intrigue. In contrast, Sadie’s relations are left somewhere on the horizon surrounded by shadowy dysfunction. I never got a sense of closure there just abandonment. There were a couple of the usual predictable villains you find in any romance drama, until the tables were turned, knocking them off their antagonist perch.
My biggest issue is the entire storyline is bogged down with endless dialogue flooding the narrative with explanations and revelations that could have been revealed by showing the reader. I could appreciate the author’s creativity and writing better if there were less long-winded arguments, endless phone conversations, and never-ending discussions. Repetition and the fact you have characters that already know one another’s history openly discussing the past clutters up everything until you’re not sure who’s telling the story at some points Another issue some readers may find disconcerting and disruptive is the constant use of Japanese and translations.
Like pieces of a jig-saw puzzle, the author does a superb job at fitting Sadie and Suburu together. Sadie is assertive, tough, career driven and loyal. Like many successful women hungry for marriage and a family, her career becomes the one thing sustainable. Through Suburu’s open-hearted acceptance she is able to relive everything that was taken from her earlier, and to find what she was searching for the entire time. The way she guides him and builds his confidence and helps him ease into his sexuality is moving, and brought a warm glow to my heart.
Suburu is passionate, innocent, and a prodigy eager to love the one person who accepted him and saved him. Through detailed descriptions, I could see, smell, touch and hear him. The sex scenes can peel the ink off the pages! His youthful earnestness and sincerity was endearing, captivating as he evolves, shifts gears from youth to man, and knocks down every stumbling block.
There are countless obstacles the author addresses openly, unabashedly, I was floored by her directness and most appreciative. Few authors are willing to touch and openly discuss the issues of racism and prejudice with ugly honesty. For some this will be a controversial read in more ways than one.
Visual Kei Rock Star is a rock-n-roll wet dream of a novel, filled with rollercoaster highs and lows, and a melodramatic ending that will coax a smile through your tears. This extraordinary tale of a May-December romance between a Japanese visual-kei musician and a Black dancer/choreographer pushes the boundaries of erotic romantic fiction by spreading out into unchartered literary waters, thumbing its nose at naysayers and the less imaginative. This author has created an original niche in a sub-genre and it keeps getting better and better.