Love Can Be a Scary Scramble
But it's often irresistible and sometimes worth the big risk
He said he'd be back in three years. She's eighteen now, and doesn't need anybody's permission to elope with a rock star. He's drug-free and grateful. They drive to Nevada and get married. His lead guitarist, Harlan Parr, is honest enough to be grateful also. If a man can feel grateful and vindictive all at once.
Susan Altstatt's second novel, White Leather and Flawed Pearls, is a showcase for three characters who find themselves in a complex romantic triangle. Tommi Rhymer and Harlan Parr have been lovers since before they formed the rock duo Belshangles, at the top of the charts in 1986. Then there's Andy (Miranda) Falconer, Tommi's fan of seven years and wife of seven days. Problem: Tom is due back in London. Andy has no passport. He insists someone of his entourage stay with her till she gets one. Who volunteers? Harlan Parr.
Three years ago, Andy shanghaied Tommi when he passed out in the alley beside her car, and kept him cooped up in her parents' mountain cabin. That crude intervention scared him sober. Harlan had been unable to wean him off the drugs, so he just joined him. Amazingly, both are now clean. Tommi admires Andy no end for what she did to him. (Harlan calls it the Stockholm syndrome.) Tommi regrets his lifestyle: he can have anybody he wants, and usually does. Andy is his off-ramp from the sexual fast lane.
But Tommi is in London. Harlan takes charge. Andy needs a wedding dress for her grand second wedding in Westminster Cathedral, plus a wardrobe befitting a rock star spouse. Privately, Harlan needs to know if he can live with Andy married to his partner. So begins a series of madcap adventures-à-deux around San Francisco, Harlan as mentor, a guitar-wizard fairy godfather with unlimited funds to effect Andy's metamorphosis. To her distress, she finds herself falling in love.
White Leather and Flawed Pearls is a welcome sequel to Ms. Altstatt’s debut novel, Belshangles, published in the fall of 2015. The characters of the first novel reappear in the second, after three years spent in different continents. Each of the two novels can be read as a standalone, or they can be read in either order. Chances are if you read White Leather and Flawed Pearls first, you’ll be hooked; you’ll seek out Belshangles, if only to spend more time with some of the most original and entertaining people you’ve met inside or outside a book.