Title: Please, Pretty Lights
Author: Ina Zajac
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 314 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
It’s September when good girl Via Sorenson stumbles into a Seattle strip club, drunk and alone on her twenty-first birthday. Matt and Nick—best friends, bandmates, and bouncers—do their best to shield her from their sadistic cocaine-trafficking boss, Carlos. They don’t realize her daddy issues come with a forty-million-dollar trust fund and a legacy she would do anything to escape.
She is actually Violetta Rabbotino, who had been all over the news ten years earlier when her father, an acclaimed abstract artist, came home in a rage, murdered her mother, then turned the gun on himself. Young Violetta was spared, hidden behind the family Christmas tree, veiled by the mysticism of its pretty lights whose unadulterated love captivated and calmed her.
Now, desperate to shed her role as orphaned victim, Via stage dives into a one-hundred-day adventure with Matt and Nick, the bassist and drummer of popular nineties cover band Obliviot. The rock-and-roll lifestyle is the perfect distraction—until she is rattled by true love. As Christmas looms closer, her notorious past becomes undeniable. How will she ever untangle herself from her twisted string of pretty lights?
This book was so unexpected. Situated in a world between church youth groups, the Seattle music scene and strip clubs. Weird, right? Beginning on our heroine’s birthday, Violetta (Via) Rabboino begins a 100 day countdown until the anniversary of her parents death. And with each passing day, her life spirals more out of control. I found this story to be emotionally gripping as you watch that spiral down, knowing at some point, it will hit rock bottom. And as sad as that is, you can’t help but watch it all fall apart.
Via is not a strong heroine in any way. She craves attention, and makes some questionable moves in order to escape the memories that haunt her. On the first night of her countdown, she meets Nick and Matt – musicians with some sketchy side jobs. Despite being engaged, she makes an immediate connection to Matt.
Chatting with our reviewer Michelle, she had trouble connecting with the characters. I think part of this might be because this is told in the third person. Also, as mentioned previously, Via is hard to cheer for – not only because she doesn’t seem to fight for herself, but because she does cheat. Personally, while I couldn’t relate to the characters and the mistakes they make along the way, the author unfolded the story in a way that it felt real and easy to understand. This is the forth romance book that had a strip club as part of the story, and this seemed like one of the more realistic accounts.
Who I loved in this story:
Matt – He’s a bit OCD, but I loved how he treated Via. He’s not perfect, as he played a role in her turn to drugs, but he and Nick, see when its gone to far and try to get her and themselves out of the toxic world. And who can’t love how he always tells her “you’re pretty,” even leaving her name at clubs under the name Via Yorpretty. Too cute!
Nick – You have to love this guy’s loyalty. He only wants to do right by his friend and his Grandma. His relationship with her is adorable.
Whitney – She saves Via from her self-destruction and slowly brings her back. She may have taken a wrong turn in her career, but she has strong goals to get her on the right path. And she’s a great Mom to Bella.
Grandma Daney – Everyone deserves a Grandma like this one. She’s not judgmental in any way and has a very easy going view on life that is hard not to appreciate.
Who I didn’t love/hated in this story:
Carlos, aka The Skeeze – With a nickname like that, do I need to say more? Ok, he is creepy, delusional, sad, scary, and ultimately the man behind Via hitting rock bottom.
Kaytlyn aka Kandy – Like a lot of strippers, this woman obviously has some low self-esteem issues, even though she is described as being Barbie perfect. But her esteem issues lead to jealously and she plays a role in some heartache. I feel bad at how things turned out for her, but I didn’t like her in any way during the book.
Via (at times) – There were so many ways I wish she would have done things differently, but she was so lost and scared, she decided to take the easy way out. That route nearly cost her everything.
BUT, I really liked how came out of her rock bottom state. She didn’t rush things. She didn’t take the easy way out. She finally did the right things and it helped her and those around her. While in the beginning, Via survived a tragedy through the comfort of some Christmas lights, her imaginary spirit angels of sorts, she finally finds comfort in a stronger spirit to help her move on past the tragedy. And that’s an ending I can cheer for.
Being in his arms reminded her of the pretty lights. Why had she never realized that before?
*An ARC was provided for an honest review.