Review: As Dust Dances by Samantha Young

Posted November 16, 2023 by Lucy D in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Rock & Roll / 0 Comments

Review:  As Dust Dances by Samantha YoungAs Dust Dances (Play On, #2) by Samantha Young
Series: Play On #2
Published by Samantha Young on July 9, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Rock & Roll
Pages: 446
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon
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The New York Times Bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series and Play On returns to the world of the arts in this intense and emotional standalone romance about love, sacrifice, and surviving both.
Once upon a time Skylar Finch was the lead singer of a hugely successful American pop-rock band. But fame made her miserable. When years of living a lie suddenly ended in tragedy, Skylar fell off the map. Eighteen months later she’s sleeping in a tent in a cemetery in Glasgow, making just enough money to eat playing music on the streets. She manages to avoid recognition, but not the attention of one of Glasgow’s ambitious A&R executives.
Killian O’Dea works at Skyscraper Records, Scotland’s most successful record label. Raised by his uncle and owner of the label, Killian’s upbringing would have been devoid of affection entirely if it wasn’t for his loving sister. Killian is unflinchingly determined to bring the label more success than ever, and the talented young homeless musician is going to help him do that.
Skylar’s music speaks to him in a way he refuses to over-analyze. All he knows is that if it can touch his dark soul, it’ll set everyone else’s alight. Skylar makes it clear that she doesn’t want to sign with him. But when she experiences the dangerous reality of a woman sleeping on the streets, Skylar has no one else but Killian to turn to. An undeniable connection forms between them. But Skylar doesn’t want the career Killian is trying to forge for her, and when her past comes back to haunt her Killian will be faced with a decision that could ruin him. He must either free Skylar from his selfish machinations and destroy everything he’s ever worked for, or lose a woman who has come to mean more to him than he ever thought possible…


This was just the book I needed to get my happy back.

When life got to be too much for popstar Skylar Finch, she ran off to backpack Europe until she spent her last few dollars heading to Scotland. The former lead singer of Tellurian might technically be a millionaire but currently she is homeless, living in a tent in the back of a cemetery and busking for change in order to eat. Accessing her money back home would mean she would have to face the fact that her mother was murdered, that there were no leads into her killer, and it also means facing her bandmates who she left hanging all those months ago. Worse, it would mean facing the hordes of Tellurian’s fans — all who had an opinion of how she should lead her life.

Killian O’Dea is the head of A&R at Skyscraper Records. He goes to the square every Saturday to listen to Skylar play. Her unique voice isn’t hard to miss, especially for someone in the record business,  but it is more the songs that she is singing that are calling to something deep inside him. These aren’t the words and songs of a pop princess but a wounded soul. He knows if these songs resonate with him, there are millions of others who would happily buy her music. He just needs to convince Skyler to sign with him.

Skylar might currently be homeless but she would rather stay out in the cold than live her life in the spotlight ever again. It isn’t until she is followed back to her remote shelter and attacked that she gives in and calls Killian for his help. She allows him to talk her into recording a solo album but she fears that the dark side of fame even more than living on the street. Has she just sold her soul to the devil for a warm bed and some security.

Samantha Young has quite the way writing characters that resonate with you.  You don’t have to be a popstar living in the limelight to understand why Skylar wanted to live in obscurity.   Skylar had a very unhealthy relationship with her bandmate, Micah.  He would tell her he loved her and they were soulmates and then go off to have sex with some groupie.  Then he would kiss her passionately onstage and get the fans frantic over #Miclarforever.   I was angry with everyone around her that no one stepped up to point this out to the woman barely out of her teens how unhealthy their relationship was.  Even when she confronts her bandmates again, Micah is so self-absorbed that Skylar hurt him by leaving.

Skylar ran away from the world because her mother sacrificed so much for Skylar and her band because she believed in them.  Once Skylar realized that she loved music but hated the success that they finally achieve, she couldn’t face her mother and be honest that all that sacrifice was for nothing.  Skylar avoided her mother so she wouldn’t figure out how much Skylar hated the success of the band.  So when her mother was murdered–over the valuables Skylar gave her mother after they became successful–Skylar ran away so she didn’t have to think about the fact that she lost the most important person in her life, after shutting her out for so long.

Killian too lost his parents young and acted as a surrogate dad to his little sister, even while just a child himself.   Killian is grumpy all the time because he feels responsible for everyone and everything.  He never relaxes until he hangs out with Skylar and they make music together.   Even while Skylar tries to hate him for dragging her back into a spotlight, she can’t fight their connection.

This works as a standalone book but I did see a blurb about another book featuring Killian’s sister, Autumn, who became a good friend to Skylar.  Autumn was a sweetheart and I think I want to read her story too.

I needed this story as I just wasn’t reading anything that was interesting and I was getting to a point where I didn’t want to read at all. Bonus, I got this book free from another author’s newsletter. If you haven’t signed up for newsletters from you favorite authors, this is one of the reasons that you should, as they cross-promote other authors with free books.

Favorite Scene:

Killian is trying to convince Skylar to sign a record deal with him…

“Pen?” I shook my head, surprised he knew about my mom’s little sister since I had a nonexistent relationship with the last living member of my family. “Pen won’t be a problem.
She didn’t even come home for the funeral. I doubt she cares about my disappearance. She’s not really all that big into facing reality.”

“Family trait, it seems.”

I grimaced. “Well, I walked into that one.”

He smirked. “What about the nutritionist and therapist?”

“There is no point in me going to a therapist if I don’t want to.” I shrugged. “I’ve got to want to. First rule of therapy.”

“No therapy, no deal.”

“Well, that’s your prerogative.” I stared him down, refusing to budge on the subject.



He narrowed his eyes. “Fine. No therapy.”

Delighted, I pushed. “And I do get to choose media outlets. I promise that I will choose some.”

“A promise isn’t good enough.”

“It will have to be. I’m not signing that contract unless it states I get to choose media outlets.”

Killian turned red with frustration. “Fine!”

Triumphant, my expression was overtly condescending. “I could see how painful that was to let me wrest away control from you. Maybe you really should see a therapist. An obsessive need to control the people around you is cause for concern.”

He ignored my teasing and said, “My suggestion came only from genuine belief that it would help you.”

“There you go acting all noble, taking the sarcasm out of my sails.”

“Not even a hurricane could knock the sarcasm out of you.”

I nodded. “You’re learning.”

“So, we have a deal?”

“And what about Gayle? Will she be a problem?”

“Like your label, you’re only under contract with Gayle as part of Tellurian. We can find you new management if you want, or we can ask Gayle to manage you as a solo artist.”

“No. If I’m going to hell again, I want a new tour guide. Fresh eyes and all.”

“So much melodrama.” He shook his head. “New management. Fine. We’ll get a contract written up.”

I gestured to him, puzzled. “I thought there would be more excitement. If not actual jumping up and down, perhaps a lengthier smirk, a maniacal laugh, a proverbial sinister twist of an oversized imaginary mustache. You disappoint me, O’Dea.”

He stared blankly at me. “I’m squeeing on the inside.”

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