Title: The Trials of Guinevere DeGrance
Series: Legendary Rock Stars #5
Author: L.B. Dunbar
Release Date: September 14, 2015
Don’t judge me. I know you want to, but let’s get some facts straight in my defense.
- I love Arturo King
- Arturo left me behind.
- I was lonely.
- Lansing was an old friend.
- I love Arturo King.
Did you burn the fictional damsel in distress that cuddled and kissed her best friend when her fantastical boyfriend disappeared for months? No, you didn’t. You sympathized with her loneliness before you read ahead to make sure the boyfriend was coming back to her. Loneliness is not a crime. It’s cruel to be alone, but not a crime, the last I knew. If it is a crime, I’ll light the match to ignite myself for what I’ve done. Goodness knows, I’m burning up with guilt as it is. In my defense, I want my story to be told before I’m judged too harshly. Arturo King might be a rock legend, but he and I are human. We make mistakes. We made mistakes. Do we need to suffer for all of eternity because of them? I hope not. The jury still seems to be out, though. The greater question is: Is it possible to rekindle our love, when the past could burn us all?
With The Trials of Guinevere DeGrance, L.B. Dunbar has written a beautiful and tumultuous conclusion to her Legendary Rock Stars Series. It feels like I’ve been waiting for Guinevere and Arturo to find their way for too long, but the wait was definitely worth it. This story does a great job at not only tying up their story but bringing a sense of contentment to the other couples. L.B. Dunbar kept me on my toes, filling the pages of this book with unexpected twists, uncomfortable truths, and palpable tension. Already sucked in by the return of characters I’d grown to love, The Trials of Guinevere DeGrance held me captive in its own right. I was once again enchanted by L.B. Dunbar’s broken characters and their emotional journeys of redemption as I devoured this book. Loose ends were tied up in a way that was satisfying yet left some wiggle room in regards to a few secondary characters, leaving open the possibility of future books centered around these undiscovered entities. True to the story thus far, this book was wrought with turbulence, dragging me on an emotional rollercoaster ride that was ultimately worth the thrill.
“The final step in my capture was my own surrender. Arturo often kissed like he was trying to conquer me, but you can’t vanquish those who are willing.”
Arturo certainly had his work cut out for him in this series finale. He’d made me feel so many emotions over the course of this series, including frustration, disappointment, and anger. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about his return but I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I forgave him. L.B. Dunbar developed this character carefully, laying his soul bare for the readers to experience his fears, insecurities, and the personal hell he lived through. His undying love for Guinevere made him feel unquestionably redeemable and I found myself falling for him all over again in no time. Guinevere’s transformation was probably my favorite part of this book. L.B. Dunbar has taken this sheltered girl who is battling heartbreak and loss and turns her into a strong woman unafraid to standalone. Guinevere’s determination to follow her own dreams and refusal to put them aside any longer made her a girl after my own heart. I connected with this character effortlessly and reveled in the fantastic job L.B. Dunbar did with Guinevere’s growth throughout the book.
“I didn’t have a sense that he’d forgiven me. He wanted to reclaim me, but that made me an object lost, not a person loved. He wanted to strip my memory of another, which meant he wanted to refill me with thoughts of him, not love me in return.”
In this book we see The Nights and crew return to Lake Avalon, bringing the series full circle. I loved seeing Guinevere and Arturo revisiting old memories and rekindling feelings, both good and bad. There is an intensity that comes from removing the characters from the chaos of life in the spotlight and allowing them the freedom to be themselves secluded at the lake. L.B. Dunbar captured all of the emotions associated with Arturo’s homecoming and the pain suffered in his absence perfectly, giving The Trials of Guinevere DeGrance a poignancy that resonates deep. As secrets were revealed and characters were forced to confront uncomfortable truths about their relationships, L.B. Dunbar inspired a sense of acceptance and unconditional love surrounding this series. In this final novel, L.B. gave The Nights and the women who love them a definitive feeling of family that made the trials and triumphs of this book that much sweeter. This bittersweet finale was full of devastating heartache, explosive chemistry, frustrating growing pains, and unconditional love, bringing the Legendary Rock Stars series to a close with the honesty and emotional weight it demanded.
If I ever wondered what the pits of hell felt like, I sensed my current position was similar to being in the fiery depths. The orange-yellow glow danced before me; blinding me to the man I knew was on the other side of the flames. His face was melting, fading in the fumes that surrounded and flowed from the heat. I sensed the wooden walls of the barn structure were crackling and eventually would crumble, but I continued to stand as if frozen. There would be no chance to freeze under the circumstances. If anything, I should be melting slowly to form a puddle on the floor. My skin felt as if it would peel off of me, one droplet of sweat at a time.
The blaze started in an attempt to gain Arturo’s attention. The boy wanted to impress his father: a rock god who stubbornly ignored his son, as he had done over a year ago in this same barn. The Barn. The place of inspiration for Arturo King and his band, The Nights. The place where they performed their magic through music. The place that marked where history was made.
I continued to stare through the flames that separated us. I could see that his lips were moving; calling or shouting out to me, but I couldn’t hear over the roar of the fire. His face was warped in my vision, drifting with the bright light that framed his head filled with dark waves and a jaw covered thicker than before. His brown eyes looked black as they stared back at me. I was trapped. The flames formed a wall between me and my beloved; a man I loved more than anyone. A man who I hurt more than I ever intended. A man who hurt me with his mysterious disappearance and lack of communication.
I didn’t move. Allowing the heat to consume me, I decided this might be my fate. Death by fire was how the adulteress was punished in ancient times. Of course, in romance novels a hero comes to the aid of the persecuted. My mind flashed to another man. He had been a hero to a little girl trapped within a burning building. He had been my hero, as well, when I was kidnapped in a drugged induced haze. He was someone I should not have been thinking of.
I continued to watch the movement of Arturo’s mouth. The roar of the flames was all that I heard. It made music to my ears, drowning out the accusations.
How could I do it? How could I be with another man?
The world seemed to stop as I struggled to give my answers. In contrast, it came alive in an orange glow that spread rapidly along the old wooden floor. My back was now against the warmth of the stones behind me. It was almost like I imagined a brick oven would feel. The ancient fieldstones were absorbing the heat and reflecting it back within the cramped space. Wood crackled above my head. The ripping sound only assured me that my end was eminent. The walls were catching and the barn was doomed to collapse.
Suddenly, I heard my name. The voice that screamed to me was clear, familiar, and not the voice that should have called for me.
“Guinie, turn around and reach up your hand,” he shouted down to me. It was like an angel spoke to me from the heavens. I couldn’t break my gaze on Arturo, but he was gesturing above me. His expression showed he clearly recognized who was over me, who was calling me. His eyes found mine through the flames and he nodded once. Then he looked away and I quickly spun reaching upward blindly. My eyes were dry, boiled orbs within their sockets. The smoke so thick, I confused it for fog. Stretching, my fingers connected with those reaching down for me. One hand was clasped, the opposite wrist encircled, and up I went into the freshness of the cool summer afternoon air. The scent of pine and lake water burned my smoke encrusted nose and I gasped for more oxygen. It was like I’d been drowning. A brief sensation I’d had a year ago in the water of that lake below.
My mind was clouded, but a passing image flashed of Arturo and me spinning in the blue water. He’d kissed me for the first time on that day then rolled us off the boat into the water in distraction. We were playful then. Not today. I heard his voice ringing in my head; his words enflamed with his bitterness.
How could I do it? Didn’t I love him?
I balanced on hands and knees in the dry earth near the burning barn. My throat was hoarse from gassy fumes and screams. I called out his name one more time, and then the inevitable happened. The wooden structure collapsed.
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Don’t miss the rest of the series:
The Legend of Arturo King (Legendary Rock Stars #1)
The Story of Lansing Lotte (Legendary Rock Stars #2)
The Quest of Perkins Vale (Legendary Rock Stars #3)
The Truth of Tristan Lyons (Legendary Rock Stars #4)
L.B. Dunbar loves to read to the point it might be classified as an addiction. The past few years especially she has relished the many fabulous YA authors, the new genre of New Adult, traditional romances, and historical romances. A romantic at heart, she’s been accused of having an overactive imagination, as if that was a bad thing. Author of the Sensations Collection, Sound Advice, Taste Test, Fragrance Free, Touch Screen, and the upcoming Sight Words, she is also author of the Legendary Rock Star series, beginning with The Legend of Arturo King. She grew up in Michigan, but has lived in Chicago for longer, calling it home with her husband and four children.