It’s difficult to take a cast of unlikeable characters and make the reader care about them. Not all readers are willing to rise to the challenge, and that’s okay. The payout for those of us who are is bigger somehow.
Lisa Marie Perry has a cast of some tough characters. All of them are morally deficient in one way or another; all of them have seriously fatal flaws. In fact, it’s hard to believe this was published by one of the big houses, but it was. Good for them.
The set-up is pretty fascinating: the central player here isn’t a person so much as a record label. And we can argue the usefulness and relevance of record labels until the Spotify Premium’s up for renewal, but that’s not what Sin For Me is about. It’s about the people who used to control it (Dante and Delilah) and the people who currently do (Emma, Joshua, and Chelsea)—and the betrayals and baggage that remain as Delilah wants her family’s heritage back.
That’s the big story arc. There’s also a smaller one, in that it’s about the relationship between Dante and Chelsea. There was a betrayal between them as well, and it was part of the bigger betrayal that led to the leadership change at Devil’s Music. But it’s that betrayal between Dante and Chelsea that’s just as hard, if not harder, to get past. Dante copes by leaving town and starting life at the farthest point he can get to from the glitz and glamour of the record business. Chelsea, though, isn’t so lucky. She’s stuck in the executive offices, busy self-destructing and stuck in the guilt and anger of what she and Dante did to each other, surrounded by the constant reminders of him and the family legacy that she took from him.
This is enough for a single book, sure, but there’s a couple more subplots, as well: Delilah wants to make a play to get her label back and decides to use Dante to do it; one of the label’s artists is angry and turns first rogue and then violent; and a new talent comes into the fold. And, too, there’s something going on between married Emma and Joshua, something Chelsea doesn’t understand—and neither does the audience.
It’s almost too much, except there’s something soap opera-esque going on here, and the book certainly reads well. I found I had to read in small doses because the characters are so morally vapid, I’d have to resurface just to recalibrate myself. But at the same time, it was hard to put down (yes, it’s true: the famous editor loves trashy, soap opera-esque books as much as she loves everything else her clients throw at her. Maybe more? I’m not telling!).
This, friends, is the sign of a good book. It’s a train wreck you can’t look away from, a delicious taste of something forbidden. But best of all, the book itself isn’t a train wreck. It’s well crafted and constructed, the characters are beautifully drawn, and it’s well written. The various strands of the plot are well cared for in Perry’s experienced hands, and wow, does she do a great job with it.
But if there’s one area where the book isn’t as strong, it’s in the descriptions. I wanted a better view of what these people wear—telling me the sandals are diamond-studded doesn’t really show me much—as well as how this old house has become a record label, with stairs and offices and… just how does this place lay out and work? It was hard to visualize and I had a hard time making sense of what was where.
After all the rich plotting that happens here, I really missed the rich descriptions to go with the lushness of the characters. Here’s one book that demands more than just a broad brushstroke of description. It needs to breathe the way the rest of the story does.
Even before the cliffhanger ending—I hesitate to call it a cliffhanger because it doesn’t leave us on our toes at the edge of the world so much as it merely stops, the last page gets turned and you look up and wonder where the hell the rest of it is—I was hooked on this series. Morally absent or not, I’m dying to know what comes next for our salacious crew, and how they solve the problems that have been laid out in this first volume of The Devil’s Music.
October, when the second book is released, can’t come soon enough.
*Copy from NetGalley, and thanks for it! Can’t wait for #2*