Book Review: Night Lights (Pretentious 7)


Danny promised his dying father he would take care of the family, but a promise looks much different when someone is twelve than it does at sixteen. When his sister leaves for college, he realizes he’s trapped in his father’s dream. He runs the family restaurant with his mother and tucks his own dreams away, until he falls in love with Aryn, a girl in his chorus class.

In volume 7, The demo is finished and the band is moving forward. They perform at a club called Night Lights, where they meet The Sand Sharks, Katie’s favorite band, The Sand Sharks former keyboard player takes them under wing, and catapults them toward their goals.

Katie crushes on Johnny, the electric guitarist for the Sand Sharks.Friendship blossoms. Can Katie turn it into something more?

Pretentious is a series of NA novellas that follow Danny and Aryn in their attempt to create a band and follow their dreams, while honoring Danny’s commitment to take care of his mother, a nurturing Italian woman everyone calls Mama, and his sister, Becky. It’s a story about family, commitment, love and the confusion of betrayal.




After settling most of the issues between Danny and Aryn (for now, I’m sure), the focus shifts to a new relationship, and the continuing evolution of the family dynamics with Danny and his mother.  The story is pivoting full tilt now, and Jena does an excellent job feathering in the new elements.  No longer are we purely in the world of a successful restaurant, college classes, and a want-to-be band.  Now, we are entering the world of wild success (or failure), rock stars, and large fan bases.  It is obvious Jena has either done a lot of research, or has personal experience with this as the elements come together to change the texture and color of the backdrop for her work through such a natural progression that it is easy to miss some of the elements.

The character development continues to be top notch – even as the cast shuffles a little to bring one of the secondary characters into the limelight.  Each must make choices, and live with the choices made.  Some are less than wise, others are risky with potential for great rewards.  Through it all, the friends you’ve made in earlier installments are brought to even more life, as if they were ready to step off the page.

There is one slight slow down in this installment that feels as if the story was fighting about the new direction.  Not enough to make it feel like it lags, but enough to be noticed.  Perhaps this is a set up for something that is coming later, however I can’t tell.  Otherwise, the pacing continues to be well done with an organic feel of surging tension with brief lulls in between.

I admitted I was addicted to Jena’s work when I wrote the review for “Reflections”, and that addiction continues unabated.  A hearty 5 out of 5 stars for this installment of “Pretentious”!


If you enjoyed the review, and wish to pick up a copy of Night Lights, you can find it on Amazon here.  If you wish for me to read and review one of your works, please fill out the simple submission form on my Offered Services page and I’ll get back to you soonest to discuss details.


Comments and questions welcome.

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