Review: Rising (Blue Phoenix #4) by Lisa Swallow

RisingTitle: Rising
Author: Lisa Swallow
Series: Blue Phoenix #4
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Blurb:
“Our demons don’t want to play but they sure as hell recognise each other”

Three attempts at staying clean after rehab and Jem Jones, Blue Phoenix guitarist, is determined this time he’ll succeed. Haunted by his recent past, Jem throws himself into the one addiction he still has left: his music. With Blue Phoenix on a break, he looks elsewhere for a place to channel his creativity and discovers up-and-coming band Ruby Riot.

For lead singer, Ruby, breaking into the music scene could break the cycle of abuse that’s controlled her life since she was a child. Finding release through music, the growing success of the band has set Ruby on the path to regaining her identity and self-esteem.

Ruby Riot brings Jem and Ruby together but they recognise they have more in common than their passion for music. Can this understanding of each other break down the carefully constructed barriers they’re trapped behind? Or is loving somebody too big a risk to take?

When Jem’s past slams into his present, he has to face the reality behind what made him the man he is and why he hurts the people he wants to love.

And as Ruby reaches out to help Jem, she discovers trying to fix somebody comes with the risk of getting cut by one of their shattered pieces.

Rising is the fourth book in the Blue Phoenix series. It can be read as a standalone but contains minor spoilers for the other books in the series.

Trigger warning: scenes of domestic violence.

My Review:
Having read books 1, 1.5, and 2 in this series, I was really looking forward to reading Jem’s story as he has intrigued me from the first time we met him. Talk about a troubled soul – not to be cliche, but he wrote the book!!

Jem has had the worst most fucked-up childhood ever. Fact. As a young adult, he enjoyed massive success with his band Blue Phoenix, and he indulged in all that the hedonistic lifestyle had to offer. Cue plenty of breakdowns, arguments, and meltdowns. He has just returned from his latest rehab stint during a period of band downtime. In order to avoid his demons, and keep distracted, he offers to help his Manager Steve out, in identifying a new support group for the next BP tour.

Enter Ruby Tuesday. Ruby’s childhood puts Jem’s in the shade. She has had one difficult event after another and now she is trapped in an abusive relationship that is threatening to destroy the one good thing in her life – her music.

Ruby and Jem crash into each others lives explosively. There is plenty of drama and angst as they enter into a game of pull and push. Both are so damaged by past events that it’s hard to open up to anyone else, even if that other person is more emphatic than your average individual. Gradually, though, they find a way to support and love each other and it was so heartwarming to read (especially the last few chapters.)

For me, the underlying message is not to underestimate the redemptive power of love.

This is far and away the best-written book in this series and there isn’t a single thing I could fault. The pacing is spot-on, the writing is superb, characterisation is insightful and raw, powerful, and it’s difficult not to feel a huge emotional upheaval reading it.

I’d give ten stars if I could. This can be read as a standalone though I’d highly recommend reading it as part of this great series.

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