Rockstar romances are my jam. I am a sucker for a well-written performance scene. Band practice montages are undeniably hypnotizing. In my opinion, musicians live or die with successful song development, diligent practice, and energetic concerts. But, when it comes to rockstar romances, you either have a star on the rise or on the decline.
Hungry stars on the rise need to deal with the challenges of success. How will your protagonist handle fans, partying, and writer’s block? On the flip side, your protagonist could be a declining star wrestling with failure. They can’t seem to keep up with their audience anymore and either need to get out or change course. Something about getting an inside look at a fake career is tantalizing. Especially when artistic success and popularity are the foundation of the job.
As an aside, after Måneskin’s historic Eurovision win, I am sure we all want more rockstar content including rockstar romances. The Italian rock group is the first Italian entry to win in 30 years. They are young, energetic, and on the rise. After a particularly difficult year for musicians and Italy, I am happy for them.
Who knows, we may be attending concerts soon. Maybe it will be Måneskin, Olivia Rodrigo, or someone you have waited to see for years. I wanted to pull together a list of romance novels suitable for the occasion. I have decided to include a variety of musicians, but “rockstar romances” is the best catchall genre category. So, without further ado, I would like to present a list of romance novels featuring musicians of all kinds.
The Girl With Stars In Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod
Content Warnings: Child abuse, Emotional Abuse by a Parent, Racism, Sexism, Drug Abuse
Growing up in a small Pennsylvanian town with her father above a bar after a life in the backrooms of her mother’s performance venues was hard for Toni Bennette. The one good thing about the whole palace was her best friend, Seb, who promised her they would get out together. That is until he left her behind without a word. After years of separation, he shows up again in her life as the band manager for her latest gig. Working with his band, the Lillys, would give her enough money to become a producer. After years of struggle to make her name in Philadelphia’s music scene, she can’t say no. Unfortunately, if Toni says yes, she will also have to confront her feelings for Seb that have been simmering on the back-burner since she met him.
Syncopation By Anna Zabo
Content Warnings: Alcoholism, Emotional Abuse, Drugging, Ableism
Being the lead vocalist of a queer-positive rock band on the rise is hard enough without having to fire your drummer. Ray Van Zeller needs to find someone to replace him pronto or Twisted Wishes is toast. He finds the perfect drummer — with a Julliard background and orchestra experience, and the best player he has ever heard. Zavier Demos would be perfect if he wasn’t Ray’s high school crush. After a partner misunderstands Zavier’s aromanticism, he is blacklisted from the concert orchestra world. Now, Zavier is just looking for a temporary gig with a talented band, but as Twisted Wishes tours, both Zavier and Ray come to rethink their commitments to the band and each other.
Perfect Rhythm by Jae
Content Warnings: Emotional Abuse by a Parent, Parental Illness, Homophobia
Leontyne Blake has been on more tours, won more awards, and released more albums than she can count, but she is burnt out. When she gets a call from her mother and discovers her father has just had a stroke, she stops everything and goes back home. Leo was not expecting to find a difficult and enticing nurse when she arrives. Leo’s fame does not impress Holly Drummond and she is wary of jumping into a relationship with someone who has never heard of asexuality before, but a little time might just get them on the same beat.
Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini
With his latest dip in popularity, British pop star Archie Fox needs an amazing PR agent if he wants to get back in the game. When he arrives, a young PR agent, Rose Reed, fills in for her boss, nearly losing Archie’s business and her agency’s largest client in the process. As a last-ditch pitch, Rose proposes Archie should begin a fake relationship with a young indie star and it works. With one successful meeting, Rosie becomes Archie’s publicist, but her future success rides on her ploy drumming up real fan interest. When her PR makeover leads to texting, dinners, and inconvenient feelings, will they be able to keep things professional?
Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Content Warnings: Homophobia, Emotional Abuse by a Parent, Death
When Xeni Everly-Wilkins comes to her late aunt Sable’s upstate New York colonial to clean it out, she knows it will be emotionally and physically difficult. She does not know until she arrives that her aunt had left her the home in her will — that is, if she agrees to marry Mason McInroy. As an ex-R&B superstar, Sable befriended the bagpipe musician when he left his biphobic parents behind in Scotland. Now, Mason and Xeni must enter into Sable’s marriage of convivence and hope they don’t fall in love along the way.
Unsung Heroine by Sarah Kuhn
Content Warning: Emotional Abuse by a Parent
The novella in the Heroine Complex series packs a punch. Personal superhero trainer and karaoke legend Lucy Valdez perfects everything she puts her mind to, but for some reason she cannot confess her feelings to Rose Rorick. As the San Francisco Police Department’s Demon Unit head, Rose is determined, clever, and a steadfast Trekkie. But when a mysterious karaoke star brings supernatural trouble to Lucy’s neighborhood, she must team up with Rose to fix it. Who knows, Lucy might just confess her innermost desires along the way.
When I finish rockstar romances I desperately want to listen to the music. I wish I could buy albums based on bands in books. But alas, it is but a dream. I hope this list will tide you over until your next concert at least. If not, I am sure re-watching Eurovision might do the trick.