Title: Off Stage: Beyond the Footlights (Off Stage: Set Three)
Author: Jaime Samms
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 300 Pages
Category: Contemporary, BDSM
At a Glance: If you’re a fan of the first two books, you will absolutely not want to miss this one. If you haven’t started the series yet, do ittttt!!!!
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Kilmer and Jacko’s relationship has been foundering for a long time. With the end in sight and despairing that he might never find a Dom who suits him, Kilmer heads to a local bar to drown his sorrows—and meets country singer Tanner.
Tanner feels oddly protective of the broken man and eventually convinces Kilmer to hire him to help remodel the small, sad house Kilmer once shared with Jacko. As Tanner and Kilmer get to know each other, Kilmer regains his lost independence and Tanner’s dominant streak rises to the surface. But will it be a help or a hindrance to the trust they’re trying to build?
The answer might lie in the music Kilmer gave up not long after he met Jacko. Music always granted him solace, clarity, and an outlet for his emotions, and with Tanner’s encouragement, he picks up where he left off. Playing together eases them into honest communication, and though a happily ever after will still take patience and work, taking a chance on each other sounds sweeter with every note.
Review: I’ve been anticipating this one, you guys!! Been waitin’. I sooo loved Off Stage: Right and Off Stage: In the Wings when I read them a few years ago. So, when I saw Jaime Samms was releasing another book in this series, I was pretty pumped. I was initially worried that I would regret not having reread the first two books—it having been so long since I’d read them—but Samms does a good job of filling in any blanks and allowing the reader to pick right back up with the characters.
Where the first two books focused on Firefly front men, Damian/Trevor and Lenny, Off Stage: Beyond the Footlights centers on Kilmer Hennessey, who we met in the second book. Kilmer is Vance Ashcroft’s best friend and ranch manager. He also happens to be Vance’s ex-sub and is now also good friends with Lenny. Kilmer has been with Jacko for four years now, and things between them are so far from okay Kilmer doesn’t know what to do. Jacko has been pulling away from him for months, staying out late, not telling Kilmer where he is, completely shutting him out. But, as Jacko is his Dom, Kilmer believes it’s not his place to question him, and has just been sitting by, hoping things will get better. Well, they don’t get better. In fact, one night things come to an explosive head when Kilmer comes home to walk in on Jacko fucking another guy, and ends up getting pulled into the scene, which results in Kilmer basically safe-wording and walking out on Jacko.
That opening scene is incredibly intense, if a bit tough to read, and definitely sets the scene for how horrible things have gotten between Kilmer and Jacko, and how lost and broken Kilmer is. It’s a difficult and painful realization to come to, but Kilmer finally admits to himself that Jacko only saw him as his sub. Not a lover, or a boyfriend, or a partner. Hell, they weren’t really even friends. And, they spent four years together! *sigh* I felt so terrible for Kilmer throughout much of the story. He’s so, so lost. And, Jacko is such a dick. I wanted to taint punch him basically until like ninety percent of the way through the book.
Kilmer, of course, heads to Vance’s ranch after he leaves Jacko, where he gets some much needed comfort from Vance and Len. I loved, loved that scene. They cared for him and showed him he was loved. It was just really sweet. But, Vance pretty quickly lays it down for Kilmer, letting him know he needs to deal with fixing up his house—reclaiming his space—so that he can begin the process of healing and moving on. Thus begins a tiny pity party, a visit to the local pub, and a small period of excessive drinking. BUT, at the bar he meets Tanner Jones, singer of new local band, Down Home, and they start talking. Kilmer is obviously hurting, and Tanner feels an immediate need to care for him. I loved this line:
It was the need—to mend the wound, fix the break, and heal the hurt—embedded in Tanner’s DNA that moved him. It awakened more strongly every time Kilmer looked into his eyes.
It turns out that Tanner is also a contractor, so Kilmer hires him to help him with the house renovations, and soon neither can ignore the spark that begins to ignite between them.
I immediately adored Tanner. He was kind, strong, and hot as hell. The first kiss between him and Kilmer was so freaking sexy. But, Tanner recognizes that Kilmer has a lot of work to do before they can even think about starting something serious, so they put the brakes on a bit so Kil can really explore what happened with Jacko, and how they both got to that place.
This book was almost as much about Kilmer and Jacko as it was about Kilmer and Tanner. The damage done to Kilmer’s self-worth and independence over the course of the four years with his ex-Dom, and what he needed to do in order to begin to heal and get himself back, was really the crux of the book. I would have loved to see more of Tanner and Kilmer together—there was some time spent together that was alluded to that I would have liked to see more of on the page—but Kilmer’s journey was so important, and I did love the way the author let it play out. Kilmer’s relationship with Vance, and with Len, was fantastic. I so love their friendship, and how much Vance clearly cares deeply for Kilmer. And, Protective Vance, when he first met Tanner, was priceless.
Two more things, quickly, before I wrap up…As the end of the blurb suggests, music plays a huge role in the story, which was awesome. I love how much music meant to everyone, and how cathartic Kilmer found it to start playing again. There were a couple of amazing live music scenes in the book that were so vibrant and well-written. LOVED. So good. Also, and I can’t believe it took me so long to mention it, I loved everything with the dog. When you read the book, you’ll understand—but Jacko leaves ‘his’ dog behind for Kilmer to take care of, and it turns out to be a huge part of Kilmer’s healing. I just completely loved everything about how Jaime Samms wrote the dog into the story.
This was a very nice addition to the series. There was even more to love than what I was able to mention. If you’re a fan of the first two books, you will absolutely not want to miss this one. 😀 If you haven’t started the series yet, do ittttt!!!!
You can buy Off Stage: Beyond the Footlights here: