Read my review of the first book in the Pretty Broken series, Pretty Toxic. | book cover of Pretty Toxic (Pretty Broken #2) by J.R. Gray

The second book in the series set around the rock band Pretty Broken features keyboardist and writer Lowe and the romance arc he shares with his best friend Saint, a solo pop artist. This book does stand alone, but it continues the drama between two other Pretty Broken members in the background, so I think the full series will be best read in order. I assumed this second book would feature the rocky love story between Iris and Cas. While I was initially disappointed to be wrong, I was quickly swept up in how the relationship between Lowe and Saint hits so many highs and lows.

I used to wonder why so many famous people ended up dating other famous people until I realized just how much time they only spent with each other. They are the only other people who understand the true perks and drawbacks of the lifestyle, rather than the hangers-on who are just there to benefit themselves. Throughout this story, Gray does an excellent job of portraying how so much of fame is manufactured for the media to create a narrative that might as well be fictional. This book sets up the depth of Saint and Lowe’s friendship, making their shift into adversaries all the more heartbreaking. Except they just released a song together, so to the rest of the world, they are still very much (platonic) best friends. Even when Saint and Lowe finally get their act together, conflict arises in the form of Saint’s fake relationship with a fashion designer.

As much as I enjoy bi-awakening stories, I have a pretty low threshold for unnecessary angst when a character wrangles with attraction to someone of the same gender. Lowe definitely experiences this, but with the added burden of his estrangement from Saint until he takes matters into his own hands. Luckily, instead of navel-gazing, he’s supported by a fellow queer bandmate who understands his dilemma on multiple fronts. Overall, Lowe’s character is an excellent depiction of how love can be expressed in many forms and the fluid nature of attraction.

I’m currently enjoying multiple ongoing series by this author, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the saga of this band. I’d even be okay if it didn’t feature Iris and Cas since I’m definitely intrigued by bass player Alistair, about whom we know so little.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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