Review & Excerpt: Drive by Kate Stewart

DRIVE
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Kate Stewart
Release Date: October 17, 2017

Music . . . the heart’s greatest librarian.

The average song is three and a half minutes long; those three and a half minutes could lead to a slow blink, a glimpse of the past, or catapult the soul into heart-shattering nostalgia.

At the height of my career, I had the life I wanted, the life I’d always envisioned. I’d found my tempo, my rhythm. Then I received a phone call that left me off key.

You see, my favorite songs had a way of playing simultaneously. I was in love with one man’s beats and another’s lyrics. But when it came to the soundtrack of a life, how could anyone choose a favorite song? So, to erase any doubt, I ditched my first-class ticket and decided to take a drive, fixed on the rearview.

Two days.

One playlist.

And the long road home to the man who was waiting for me.

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Breathe. Breathe. This is in the bag, Stella. You can do this, so do it.
I clicked on the camera and quickly glanced at my notes.One minute.


Electricity shot through my veins and seeped through every pore, reminding me that this was it.

Thirty seconds.

I took a sip of water and set it beside my laptop as I waited.

Ten seconds.

A flicker of doubt processed for mere seconds before I wiped it away.

Five.

I expelled a stressed breath, clicked Go Live, and addressed the camera.

“Womanizer, bully, genius, recluse, and the world’s greatest MC. Even with all those labels, Phillip Preston, also known as Titan, is still a bit of an enigma. Despite the universe he’s constructed with storytelling lyrics, he’s always left it up to us to decipher his truth from his fiction. He burst onto the music scene fifteen years ago, an underdog in the belly of rap, with chaotic and desperate rhymes that resonated and pushed him into an unexpected level of stardom. With one hundred and eighty million records sold, he still holds his title as heavyweight and remains a household staple for his die-hard fans, collecting an army of new followers over the past two decades. I must admit, I was a bit intimidated when I sat down with him this past weekend in his Chicago fortress. I, like millions of others, am a huge fan of his genius. The simplicity of our surroundings in his home studio was shocking, to say the least. The feeling was a bit clinical and there were no platinum records on his walls, no personal photos, and there was no hint of the history he’d made as the world’s most notorious rap star. He sat in a leather chair next to his soundboard, water bottle in hand, and spoke about his love of rap, while subtly redirecting questions about his personal life—though we know he recently broke up with his long-time girlfriend, Jordan Wilson.”

My eyes nearly watered as I watched the live view box tick to a hundred thousand. I had a hundred thousand people watching my podcast in a matter of minutes. I took a deep breath.

“But it seemed my reputation had preceded me because when I sat down with the rap mogul, Phillip appeared ready for the firing squad. We dueled well as I asked the hard questions—the questions of a fan. Questions I know so many of his loyal listeners want answers to, and I think you’ll be surprised to hear his answers. So, without further ado, take a look at my exclusive with the man behind the myths. Feel free to form your own opinions, but above all, remember it’s the music that matters most.”

I linked my pre-recorded interview and watched the ticks explode as soon as his face hit the screen.

That was the moment my career peaked.

With pride, I watched my interview with the white whale, the Moby Dick of the music industry. Gorgeous, brilliant, and highly elusive, Phillip Preston was the hardest artist to get personal with in an interview. And I was the woman he reached out to, to break his silence about his road to success, his parents, his ex-wife, and finally—after some careful eggshell coaxing—he spoke about his recent relationship. He had delivered to me, on a silver platter, highly personal details about his life where so many other journalists had failed, and it was nothing short of miraculous.

It was my greatest accomplishment as a music journalist. I was flying, soaring as my phone began to blow up with message after message. I hadn’t told a soul, not a single person about my exclusive. I was high on adrenaline when the notifications began to ping on my phone. A hundred, two hundred messages, and then I saw the viewer ticks had jumped drastically to half a million. Half a million! I laughed out nervously and checked Phillip’s social media. He had just posted my podcast link to our interview. My jaw dropped. He had over eighty million followers on one forum alone.

And the viewer counts just kept rising. I had done it. I gasped when the ticks went past a million.

A million people were watching my podcast.

A million people were watching my podcast!

“AHHHHHH!” I screamed to no one as I looked around the vacant room. I raised both hands in the air when the ticks rolled past two million. “Oh my GOD!” I shot up from the desk, my eyes full of incredulous water.

I’d never had more than a million views. Ever. And those took months to accrue. It was the greatest career high of my life. I looked back down at my phone, anxious to talk to someone, anyone. Lexi’s middle finger popped up on the screen, and I couldn’t resist answering her call.

“AHHHHHHHH!” I screamed into the phone..

“Stella?”

“Yes! Is it good? You think I asked the right questions? I edited for like nine hours.”

“What?”

“What do you mean, what? Titan’s interview.”

“You interviewed Titan?”

A small amount of my excitement dispersed. “Yours was the wrong call to answer.”

“You fucking interviewed Titan?”

“Yes. I wanted to surprise everyone.”

“And you didn’t bring me?”

“Sorry. I’ll feel guilty later.”

“Yeah.” Her voice dropped. I heard a toilet flush. “Yeah, Stella, that’s so cool.” Another toilet flushed.

“Where are you?”

“I’m in the bathroom at the Marquee.”

“Okay. Well, I’m buzzing right now, woman. Like, literally, my phone is exploding. Five million hits, Lexi. Five million!”

“I’m so happy for you, Stella.”

I frowned. “Yeah, with that amazing monotone, I can tell.”

“I’m so sorry.” And then her voice broke. My best friend doesn’t cry. Ever.

“Oh, shit. What’s up?”

“I’ll call you back, okay? I don’t want to ruin this.”

“You aren’t ruining anything. You couldn’t ruin this. I promise. I’ll be high for days. So, tell me. Why are you in the bathroom?”

“I’m on a blind date. He took me to a wedding.”

“Okay. You need an excuse? That’s not like you. You’re ballsy. Just give him your usual, it’s not me, it’s you.” I chuckled because she’d used it in front of me on a bass player with a cowlick and halitosis.

“Stella.”

I knew that tone. That tone was the bearer of bad fucking news.

“What? Say it.”

“It’s his wedding.”

I eyed the clock while I zipped my suitcase. I had an hour and a half before my flight. I was cutting it close. “Whose wedding?”

“Stella.”

“I know my name. Damn, who—” Realization struck and my heart met the floor. I stayed mute while she rambled on nervously.

“What are the odds? What are the goddamn odds? I don’t know what to do. Do you want me to leave? There’s no handbook for this. Did you even want to know this? That he’s married? I can’t believe I just watched him get married! Who in the hell ends up at their best friend’s ex-boyfriend’s wedding? I couldn’t not tell you.” She sniffed as the toilets repeatedly flushed around her.

“Stella, please say something.”

I pressed the sting back. “I’m alright, of course. I’m fine. Why are you crying?”

“I don’t know.” She sniffed. “Ben called me last night, and things are just so fucked up, and today this shit happens, and I know you’re happy. I know you are. But . . . I mean, this is—”

I put my hand up as if she could see it. “Don’t tell me anything else, okay? I’m good.” I looked at my reflection in the mirror from the bed into the adjacent bathroom. Nothing had changed. I wasn’t leaking. I was fine. “I’m okay. I’m glad you told me. I have to leave for the airport now, or I’ll miss my flight.” A slew of questions was on the tip of my tongue. Did he look happy? Was she beautiful? And more questions I hated myself for that Lexi would never be able to answer. Still, my head and heart refused to keep those questions bottled.

Was she prettier than me? Did he look at her the same way? Did he propose to her with half his heart? Did he think of me when he did it? Was any part of him thinking of me now? Was I in his dreams the way he drifted through mine sometimes?

All my thoughts were selfish. All of them. And of all the thoughts I could have had that day, self-loathing was not the one I expected to nudge its way front and center. I forced myself to speak.

“Stay.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes, of course. I’m fine.”

“This freaky shit always happens. Always with you.”

“I know.”

“It’s like karma or God or someone hates you. It’s so fucked.”

I laughed ironically, though inside my heart was pounding.

Silence passed over the line as we both waited for some sort of solution that wasn’t coming.

“Stella, God, I’m so sorry.”

“About what? Stop. You know I would have told you if the situation were reversed. I should go. Love you.”

“Love y—” I hung up the phone before she could finish, frozen in the middle of the hotel room.


He was my song, my soul, my everything, and his love had propelled me forward into the woman I wanted to be. And that woman would burn out with the man who was made to keep her warm.

Wow. WOW. Seriously, wow. This book. This was quite possibly one of the most unique, memorable, and captivating romances I’ve read in a long while. I have no idea how to even go about reviewing this book because I feel like you really need to go into it completely blind to get the full effect, but I’ll do my best.

I used to think I was cursed for having fallen in love with two men. But, in hindsight, I realized what a gift it was. They were my lovers, my teachers, my best friends, and I would love them both until I took my last breath.

There are a few authors I would break my no love triangles rule for, and Kate Stewart happens to be one. Though, I feel it’s fair to say, this is unlike any other love triangle I’ve ever read. It almost didn’t feel like one because as you read the story, you feel in your heart who Stella belongs with. I’m not sure how it’s possible that you feel her love for the other man as well, but you do. No one is a consolation prize. This was such a powerful and emotional story of love, growing up, and chasing your dreams to that one minute past desperation.

The story is cleverly told in alternating past to present, though the majority takes place in the past. It’s interactive with each chapter tied to a song you can play. This made the story that much better.

Young Stella moves to Dallas to chase her dreams as an entertainment journalist. Moving in with her older sister, she experiences life from the bottom up. She works the dead end jobs to make ends meet, she barely has two dimes to rub together, but that never stops her. She’s passionate in all things, including chasing her dreams. Along the way she meets two men that irrevocably change her life. Each owning a different piece of her heart equally, though one does it in an overwhelming way. She experiences the rock and roll culture from both sides of the stage. And you experience it right along with her.

It took three seconds to close the distance between us, two seconds to lock together like we’d been doing it our entire lives, and that last second . . . that last second when his lips devoured mine was the second I lost a piece of myself I could never get back. 

Stella was such a captivating heroine. Her emotions just roll off of her. She’s this combination of strength and fear, love and indecision. You see her grow from a naive girl that knows what she wants to a strong woman that goes after it. You see her fall in love and have her heart shattered. You feel it right along with her.

This isn’t a book you read, it’s a book you experience. It’ll frustrate you, it will anger you, it will make you laugh, cry, and swoon. I have experienced such a myriad of emotions, I was almost exhausted when I got to the end.

You exhaust me. You make me tired, Stella, so fucking tired. I want you and I want to do it right, but I’m so annoyed right now. All I want to do is make you wet and fuck you until it hurts.”

I’ll admit, it took a bit to fully get into it. Kate Stewart really takes her time to set the scene with this story, and it was a touch slow going at first. But after the 40% mark, it was completely unputdownable.

If you’re a fan of unique, angsty, and captivating romances, this is a book that’s an absolute must read. It will be a story that I won’t forget any time soon and I’ll recommend blindly to ANYONE.

I couldn’t say anything. I was too far gone. Doused in gasoline with no match in sight, the aching, the longing, and the burning all there.

Kate Stewart lives in Charleston, S.C. with her husband, Nick, and her naughty beagle, Sadie. A native of Dallas, Kate moved to Charleston three weeks after her first visit, dropping her career of 8 years, and declaring it her creative muse. Kate pens messy, sexy, angst-filled contemporary romance as well as romantic comedy and erotic suspense because it’s what she loves as a reader. A lover of all things ’80s and ’90s, especially John Hughes films and rap, she dabbles a little in photography, can knit a simple stitch scarf for necessity only and does a horrible job of playing the ukulele. Aside from running a mile without collapsing, traveling is the only other must on her bucket list. On occasion, she does very well at vodka.

Contact Kate- Email-authorkatestewart@gmail.com

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