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Susan and I have talked about Lisa Marie Rice before, but it doesn’t look like either of us have ever read any of her, although I might be wrong. Susan reads more than I do (nice of her to do some reviews, huh?).

After a violent attack, Allegra Ennis lost everything—her father, her music career and her sight. Living in a world alone, full of darkness and fear, Allegra is haunted by nightmares that don’t end when she opens her eyes.

When she is stalked by an unknown killer, Allegra must trust her life—and her heart—to former Navy SEAL Douglas Kowalski, a fearsome warrior who bears the scars of war. But Kowalski fears that someone as beautiful and talented as Allegra could never love a disfigured and mutilated war hero like him. He can protect her against danger, but can he protect his heart?

It’s not what you see
…it’s what you feel..

**Note: This book was previously published by Ellora’s Cave. The new edition has been lightly edited and updated.**

So… this guy doesn’t think the blind woman can love him ’cause he’s disfigured? Oh, please tell me his nose is at the top of his head or he’s been turned into an octopus or something. Because hello? Blind people? They ain’t exactly repulsed by what they see when they look at you…

But this is one of those stories that makes me wonder how much Rock Fiction this is, and how much is just a detail thrown in to give the character some oomph. And to catch the eye of suckers like me, too.

Only one way to find out, so bring it, will someone?

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Winter is still hanging on and maybe we’re not ready for a refreshing blast of winter yet, but we can always use some Christmas joy, can’t we?

Here’s some, compliments of author Heather Hiestand:

Twelve years ago, Bax Connolly left his small town behind to find fame and fortune with his guitar. Now the legendary, tattooed rock star is back and has purchased a home. The bad boy of the music industry wants to reconnect with his estranged family by throwing a huge Christmas party. But his tough, working class relatives have no clue how to deal with their ultra-wealthy and famous prodigal son and want nothing to do with him.

Yakima Wannassay’s catering company needs a Christmas miracle to keep from going under, but she never expected Santa to deliver her the perfect holiday client—her former next door neighbor Bax. A recommendation from him could take her business to a whole new level. And when she steps under the mistletoe with the irresistible Bax, she finds herself wanting to mix business with pleasure. Too bad a long ago told little white lie could blow up in her face and ruin both Christmas and her future.

The Rock Star’s Christmas Reunion reunites a couple who were never together except in rumor, adds some music industry edge, and mixes in the joy of the holidays!

At first, I rolled an eye at the whole bad boy rocker thing. But then I kept reading and boy howdy, am I glad I did! Trying to figure out how to get along with family whose values you may not share anymore — or maybe you do, but the veneer over everything has changed, so there’s no trust for who’s underneath? Yes. Yes.

It’s fresh. It’s something to think about. I’m SO there.

Even the employer-employee trope gets a twist here.

Yes.

Bring it. And if someone sends it now, I just might get it read in time to post the review in time for real Christmas prep.

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I think it was Entangled who published that box set I didn’t like awhile back, so no real surprise to see they don’t realize that ROCK STAR is two words. See what I mean:

Never fall for a rockstar…

Julian Wheaton views the world through a kaleidoscope of synesthesia, seeing the colors of every sound he hears. His life as an iconic rock guitarist was a stressful psychedelic trip that nearly destroyed him. Now he’s abandoned the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle for the peaceful sanctity of his recording studio, but when fiery Cleo Compton comes to work for him, she brings chaos with her.

Cleo Compton has had her flings with rockstars—and it’s left her wary and bruised. Julian may have those sexy bedroom eyes and drool-worthy tattoos, but Cleo is determined to keep things strictly professional—until Julian turns out to be every dream she’s ever chased. When he risks it all to hit the road with a band again, Cleo fears he’ll return as the one thing she can no longer abide—a rockstar.

And that’s too bad, because this is a cool idea, with the synesthesia. Wendy Mass wrote a great book about synesthesia.

The rest? We’ve seen it. Burned out rocker who locks himself away from the world. Employee who knows she shouldn’t sleep with yet another rocker. But does.

I’d read this for the synesthesia — and yes, I like saying that — alone, but a major publisher making that sort of typo not just once, but three times in the description, plus the mess that box set was…

Well, if a copy falls on me, I’ll read it with an open mind ’cause I’ll probably forget to check the publisher and just remember the synesthesia (one more for the win!), but if it lets me down for the same bad fact checking, all bets are off.

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I don’t remember why Susan dug up all these links to Peggy Ehrhart books and sent them to me, but she did and since it all looks like really good stuff that I actually want to read — and since the whole murder mystery thing is a nice change from all the smooching and sexing it up around here, I’m totally into it.

From Harlem to the East Village, Manhattan’s various music scenes provide the backdrop for three stories of deception and revenge.

“Killer Chops” A jazz guitarist is shot in gentrifying Harlem. People will kill to get their hands on a prime piece of real estate—or was the motive something else?

“Stone Cool” Murder is one way to score a prime gig—especially if a guy’s been double-crossed by an old friend.

“Mojo Hand” An aging rock-and-roller is surprised to find that he likes a settled life with his young wife and little daughter—but then he discovers that nothing’s what it seems.

Not sure what else to say. It’s short stuff, it’s a threesome (but not THAT kind. See? We’re all on romance overload), and it’s by an author Susan likes, at least. I need to try some of Peggy’s books… think if I ask nice, next time Susan and I get together, she’ll loan me the copy of Sweet Man that she says is on her shelf?

And have any of you read Peggy Ehrhart yet? Are you dying to?

Was that in the least bit funny?

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Here’s the kickoff to another new series. I love the idea of series, when they’re done right, because we get to spend extra time in what becomes a familiar world. As the series goes on, each book turns into a comfort read (Sookie Stackhouse, I’m talking to you).

This one starts off with a fun vibe.

She stole his roses.

Fleeing the spotlight, burnt out rock star Layla—“Belle”—Dubois seeks refuge in the south of France. That old, half-forgotten heritage in a valley of roses seems like a good place to soothe a wounded heart. She certainly doesn’t expect the most dangerous threat to her heart to pounce on her as soon as she sets foot on the land.

He wants them back.

Matt didn’t mean to growl at her quite that loudly. But—his roses! She can’t have his roses. Even if she does have all those curls and green eyes and, and, and…what was he growling about again?

Or maybe he just wants her.

When an enemy invades his valley and threatens his home, heart, and livelihood, Matthieu Rosier really knows only one way to defend himself.

It might involve kissing.

So I bet this is more of a Rock Star Who Could Be Anyone than actual Rock Fiction, but it’s cute! The dude’s possessive about his flowers!

(and I can think of some other Rock Fiction that feature flower shops and/or greenery. Is that a thing?)

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One day, I’m gonna sit down and make up a list of all the books titled Rock Hard. Even if they aren’t Rock Fiction and are erotica, or whatever else they might be about. Boulders. Volcanoes.

Of course, knowing me, I’ll go all drooly for the Rock Fiction titles and wind up coveting them all. I’m already abusing Susan’s GoodReads account like nothing doing.

Anyway, today’s Rock Hard entry is written by Kat Austen, and I know nothing about Kat, so someone besides me invite her over to introduce herself and talk about her love of Rock Fiction, or how she picked her rocker’s name, or anything else she might want to talk about.

There is ZERO description of this book over at GoodReads, in case you go looking for it like I did. It was an interesting search ’cause it seems our friend Kat isn’t Kat. She’s really a hidden, cloak-and-dagger author who sits on New York Times Best-Seller lists in her other persona. Frankly, I don’t feel like doing the sleuthing to figure out who she is. I just wish she’d put up a description of her book at GoodReads.

But I yanked it off Amazon:

First loves don’t last. Especially one as unlikely and turbulent as Elodie and Caspian’s.

It’s been years since she’s seen the rough rebel she fell in love with as a teen. She’s put him behind her and moved on. That’s the story she tries to sell her friends and family, but deep down, she knows it’s a lie. She hasn’t moved on from Caspian Cruz and she probably never will, but she has to finally give up hope they’ll ever reunite.

Or does she?

When her friends drag her to a sold-out rock concert, she comes face to face with the lead singer . . . who just so happens to be the boy she fell for all those years ago.

She never thought she’d see him again. She never realized he’d made it in the music world. And she never expected him to confess that he’s been waiting for her as long as she’s been waiting for him.

What will happen when their worlds collide again? A repeat of the past or a second chance to get things right?

ROCK HARD is a short and sexy read, chock-full of excessive sweetness and heaps of filthy talking. Not for the faint or square of heart.

I can live with the loved forever trope. It’s sweet. But you get dragged to a concert by your friends and you don’t research them to see who you’re going to see? What if they took you to some band you hated and you’d have known that going in, and your friends would have spared themselves your utter bitchiness at being made to listen to some Limp Bizkit wanna-be and could have taken someone who’d have liked what was going on, instead?

Well, then we wouldn’t have a story. Or we’d have a different one ’cause this whole thing hinges on the surprise of seeing each other. And that’s fine, too.

I’m curious. Why did they wait for each other? Will they like who the other has turned into over the years? I mean, yeah, this is a romance so we know there’s a HFN or an HEA in the works, but… does it really work like that?

But that’s what makes romance so great. Things like trusting your friends and not outgrowing the love you’ve waited for… those happen in fiction.

Too bad they don’t happen in real life.

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Shh. Don’t tell Susan that I picked this one up when it was free, so look for a review probably later than sooner ’cause she’s sent me a whole bunch of stuff. A lot of you authors are sending me stuff to read, and I love it! Keep it up!

Oh, wait. That means I have to keep reading and reviewing. Huh. Forgot about that part.

Anyway, here’s the book of the day. It’s the new one from Karina Bliss, who wrote What the Librarian Did, which Susan got to read and I haven’t had time to catch up with yet (see above for why).

This new one is called Rise. Here’s the description:

Rise – The redemption story of a rock star going straight(er) through the love of a good(ish) woman.

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes.
So bad-boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir.
Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions–manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic and morally ambiguous.
In short, everything she seeks in a biography subject.
When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.
Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed devil is only too willing to stoke.
She thought self-control was in her DNA; after all, she grew up a minister’s daughter.
She thought wrong.

Rock star Zander Freedman has been an outlier–many would say an outcast–for most of his life.
But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the breakup of his band to the inevitable damage to his reputation.
His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph–if his golden voice holds out.
Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz. Elizabeth’s integrity is the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats.
All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not force him to think.
Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out.
And certainly not make him fall in love for the first time in his life.
Turns out he is scared of something: being known.

I like that our rocker, here, is feeling his power. And he doesn’t seem like much of an ass, although let’s face it: it’s part of the job description, and it’s part of the demands of the life, and it’s part of the structure of safety, too. It happens. But this guy?

Yeah, I’d like to spend time with him. Even though it’s yet another works-for-the-band trope. Sigh. I think it’s my least favorite because it’s the most used. Maybe it’s trope fatigue.

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So WHAT if it’s the end of February and the next holiday to look forward to celebrating is St. Patrick’s Day? And so what if we’re all tired of winter and ready for spring and green? Let’s take a step back a couple months and talk about a Christmas book. Because, you know, you’ll read about it now and go out and buy it, and it’ll sit around until you rediscover it before next Christmas, and then you’ll be in the mood.

Mark my words. That’s how these things work.

So the book is Rockin’ Little Christmas and it’s branded as being a True Mated Romance, although the first book doesn’t have a lick of Rock Fiction in it, if I go by its description. Which, for lack of other information, is what I’m using.

Here’s what it’s about:

When her parents’ rock band The Pack performs at Zach’s bar, Mandy discovers her True Mate, Joe Blackwolf, the band’s lead singer and guitarist. All she has to do now is convince Joe that she told a little white lie to make her mom happy, her father that rock musicians aren’t all alike, and her new mate’s family that rockers aren’t all that different from classical musicians.

Joe Blackwolf is celebrating his fortieth birthday. And what he wishes for when he blows out the candles is to find his True Mate. He succeeds when he meets Mandy Goldwolf. Problem is…he thinks she belongs to someone else. Finding out the truth leaves him free to explore every inch of her smokin’ hot curves, but now Joe and Mandy are neck deep in overbearing relatives and everyone is in for a Rockin’ Little Christmas.

Note: This book was previously published elsewhere but has been revised and updated.
Formerly titled: Cupid Rocks.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting: Cupid Rocks is the fourth in the True Mated series. But this isn’t part of that series, even though it has a new title? Color me confused! Francesca, stop in and explain it, will ya? Help a girl out here!

I love the line about “All she has to do now is convince Joe that she told a little white lie to make her mom happy, her father that rock musicians aren’t all alike, and her new mate’s family that rockers aren’t all that different from classical musicians.”

That is a LOADED statement, even though Susan looked at it funny and said she wasn’t sure it made sense. Too bad. I get the jist of it and sometimes, you need to go by the jist. And that? That jist just grabbed me. Hard.

So there ya go. If you’ve read this under either of its titles, or you know Francesca and can tell her we’re talking about her and have questions about the whys of things in her world, we’d love you for it. Or I will. Susan’s… well, she can be sparing with the love. It’s not you. It’s her. I think she needs some romance in her life, don’t you?

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It’s difficult to take a cast of unlikeable characters and make the reader care about them. Not all readers are willing to rise to the challenge, and that’s okay. The payout for those of us who are is bigger somehow.

Lisa Marie Perry has a cast of some tough characters. All of them are morally deficient in one way or another; all of them have seriously fatal flaws. In fact, it’s hard to believe this was published by one of the big houses, but it was. Good for them.

The set-up is pretty fascinating: the central player here isn’t a person so much as a record label. And we can argue the usefulness and relevance of record labels until the Spotify Premium’s up for renewal, but that’s not what Sin For Me is about. It’s about the people who used to control it (Dante and Delilah) and the people who currently do (Emma, Joshua, and Chelsea)—and the betrayals and baggage that remain as Delilah wants her family’s heritage back.

That’s the big story arc. There’s also a smaller one, in that it’s about the relationship between Dante and Chelsea. There was a betrayal between them as well, and it was part of the bigger betrayal that led to the leadership change at Devil’s Music. But it’s that betrayal between Dante and Chelsea that’s just as hard, if not harder, to get past. Dante copes by leaving town and starting life at the farthest point he can get to from the glitz and glamour of the record business. Chelsea, though, isn’t so lucky. She’s stuck in the executive offices, busy self-destructing and stuck in the guilt and anger of what she and Dante did to each other, surrounded by the constant reminders of him and the family legacy that she took from him.

This is enough for a single book, sure, but there’s a couple more subplots, as well: Delilah wants to make a play to get her label back and decides to use Dante to do it; one of the label’s artists is angry and turns first rogue and then violent; and a new talent comes into the fold. And, too, there’s something going on between married Emma and Joshua, something Chelsea doesn’t understand—and neither does the audience.

It’s almost too much, except there’s something soap opera-esque going on here, and the book certainly reads well. I found I had to read in small doses because the characters are so morally vapid, I’d have to resurface just to recalibrate myself. But at the same time, it was hard to put down (yes, it’s true: the famous editor loves trashy, soap opera-esque books as much as she loves everything else her clients throw at her. Maybe more? I’m not telling!).

This, friends, is the sign of a good book. It’s a train wreck you can’t look away from, a delicious taste of something forbidden. But best of all, the book itself isn’t a train wreck. It’s well crafted and constructed, the characters are beautifully drawn, and it’s well written. The various strands of the plot are well cared for in Perry’s experienced hands, and wow, does she do a great job with it.

But if there’s one area where the book isn’t as strong, it’s in the descriptions. I wanted a better view of what these people wear—telling me the sandals are diamond-studded doesn’t really show me much—as well as how this old house has become a record label, with stairs and offices and… just how does this place lay out and work? It was hard to visualize and I had a hard time making sense of what was where.

After all the rich plotting that happens here, I really missed the rich descriptions to go with the lushness of the characters. Here’s one book that demands more than just a broad brushstroke of description. It needs to breathe the way the rest of the story does.

Even before the cliffhanger ending—I hesitate to call it a cliffhanger because it doesn’t leave us on our toes at the edge of the world so much as it merely stops, the last page gets turned and you look up and wonder where the hell the rest of it is—I was hooked on this series. Morally absent or not, I’m dying to know what comes next for our salacious crew, and how they solve the problems that have been laid out in this first volume of The Devil’s Music.
October, when the second book is released, can’t come soon enough.

*Copy from NetGalley, and thanks for it! Can’t wait for #2*

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We’ve had Tracy Wolff’s first two books in her Shaken Dirty series on our List for a long time, but this is the first time either Susan or I have openly wanted to read her. Which is stupid; who wants to start a series with the third book? But I’m going to write about that one today because I’m in a mood and feeling stubborn. Why does the first always get the love?

Here’s what the third, Fade Into You, is about.

Wyatt Jennings has been called a lot of things by the media. Bad-boy rocker. Intense drummer. Addict.

Finally out of rehab and desperate for a fresh start, Wyatt rejoins his mega-platinum rock band Shaken Dirty as they prepare for their world tour. But Wyatt’s demons are never far behind, always nipping at his heels for one. More. Fix.

Enter Poppy Germaine, the band’s new social media consultant. A beautiful bombshell who somehow manages to get underneath Wyatt’s skin, Poppy’s an addiction Wyatt can get behind. And even though she’s with the label—and therefore off-limits—he craves her. Needs her.

Except Poppy isn’t actually a social media consultant. She’s the daughter of the label’s CEO, sent undercover to babysit Wyatt and keep him from falling off the wagon again. Proving herself to her father is Poppy’s only goal—until she finds herself in Wyatt’s bed. But if Wyatt discovers the truth, it could send him spiraling all over again…

So my first thought was that here we go, into stuff we’ve seen and read before. Yawn.

And then the twists showed up. And dude, I’m hooked. Yeah, it’s clear we still have an employee in the rocker’s bed. I see that. Believe me, I see it. And believe me, I still hate it.

But I like the awareness here, the idea that the label head is so committed to this band (because, let’s face it, that’s rarely the case. The A&R guy? The manager? The people who work directly with the band? Absolutely. But a label head? Says something about the drawing power of this band — or it says the author doesn’t know her stuff, but let’s be positive here.) that he’ll take such drastic steps. I’m not sure of the wisdom of sending his beautiful daughter into the thick of things, but… I’m not a parent. Maybe it’d be different if I was in this guy’s shoes, so I hope we get to really understand his thinking here. I mean, doesn’t he know that there’s always this chance of chemistry?

Anyway, bring this one, and the rest of the series, on! It looks like at least two more are scheduled, as well, with titles listed at GoodReads. Let’s see where this one goes.

And hey, if you’ve read any of these books, send your reviews over and I’ll make Susan post them! We’d love help shouldering the burden around here and spreading the Rock Fiction love.