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And it’s a standalone! Woot!

One Agreement. Two friends. Three Rules.

No one gets hurt…

Brandon Kresge has it all. A hot music career. An even hotter body. And tons of adoring fans willing to…yeah. By all appearances his life is perfect. But appearances aren’t always what they seem.

Years of experience have made him skilled at hiding the truth. From the media. From his friends. From his band mates. But all that changes when he meets her. She breaks down every one of his barriers and leaves him stripped bare.

Brynn Richer doesn’t have her life figured out, but then again, how many twenty-three-year-olds do? All she wants is to dance, a decision her mother is adamantly against. But despite the cards being stacked against her, she moves to New York City to pursue her passion. One crazy decision causes her path to intersect with the sexy, troubled lead singer of Wreckless Abandon. She knows this man will break her, knows she should steer clear of him, but she’s powerless to resist him.

What happens when lines between friendship and love are blurred? What happens when rules are broken and they are forced to choose? Can they work through their struggles to find their happily ever after or are some things too hurtful, too damaged to be fixed?

This is a standalone novel with an HEA. It contains mature themes, strong language and sexual situations, and is intended for mature readers.

So yeah, we start off with the usual cliches. Hot career. Hot body. Groupies. A girl powerless to resist. Yadda yadda yadda.

Y’know?

But then things get interesting. Lines between friendship and love? Rules? Crazy decisions? Is this girl going to wind up onstage dancing for this guy’s band, like various raunchy hair bands have done through the years?

And mostly, how does it rise above its routine set-up to live up to that cover (wow) and the promise of a set of struggles that sound sort of epic?

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So here’s one that looks like it’s the Rock Fiction entry into the series. Anyone know anything about this series:

This last year of Joss Richards’ life has changed for the better—or so she thinks. A new band, a new city, a new life, and, now, a shot at a contract with the hottest rock label around, ICE Records. If she and her bandmates can impress the label, her life will be set. Too bad her best friend thinks something is missing. When Joss receives details of the 1Night Stand date set up for her, she bolts—straight into the arms of a sexy stranger.

When August Bragg glimpses a red-haired goddess in the hotel lobby, he can’t get out of his thoughts—or his fantasies. Unable to resist her lure, he indulges in a steamy encounter. Then learns her name, and he realizes his fantasies have left his heart in an ethical dilemma.

Will they give everything up for their careers, or can the man who holds Joss’ future in his hands also convince her to give him her heart?

Okay, so maybe it’s a stretch calling this a “works for the band” trope. Maybe. But the dude IS the head of the record company and I know it can be confusing sometimes to figure out who works for who between the band and the label. Both would tell the other works for them. (Are egos involved? Ya think?)

I guess my biggest question right off the bat is that if everything is going so well for Joss, why is she willing to go on this date? And what sort of friend makes her think that life isn’t great until she’s got a man by her side (in her bed, between her legs, whatever)?

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Does this sound familiar to anyone else? I swear, I have read some Rock Fiction where the heroine runs a snarky blog site. I have! (If you have, too, you know where the comments are.)

Emily Watts just wants a weekend break from the workaholic hours she’s taken on to keep her business — a popular fashion-snark web site — up and running. What she gets is overnight celebrity and a career-killing media scandal.

While taking time out to attend a concert in support of friend Jesse Cinder, a struggling musician, Emily meets Cory Sampson, the lead singer of a chart-topping rock band. When she agrees to a date with Cory, making entertainment headlines is the last thing she expects. Even so, it’s a minor surprise by comparison to her discovery that in the music world, media notoriety trumps all. Tabloid allegations erupt when Cory and fame-hungry Jesse use Emily for personal gain, and her tarnished image spells disaster — personally and professionally. To save the web site and writing career she’s made her life and dream, Emily must go from being a pawn in the Hollywood headline game to becoming the media mastermind.

Previously published as J.F. Kristin.

I think what makes this rise above its own cliches is that it seems to focus less on the cliches and more on the idea of the scandal and how to work the media and the whole game. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know, but honestly, that’s what I’d like to see this book be about. It doesn’t even seem to be a romance, despite the fact that it starts off with a date. And that, too, helps it rise above the fact that it’s the chart-topping singer who singles Emily out.

If only wishes could be real things. And if only I could get my hands on a copy of the book and see for myself!

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Here’s an unusual one! It’s Tess Gerritsen, author of a whole slew of books, mostly medical thrillers, and she’s now got a work of Rock Fiction that might sorta be horror and might sorta be another thriller — hey, do what you love, right?

It’s called Playing with Fire, and here’s the description:

A beautiful violinist is haunted by a very old piece of music she finds in a strange antique shop in Rome.

The first time Julia Ansdell picks up The Incendio Waltz, she knows it’s a strikingly unusual composition. But while playing the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her young daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence. And when she travels to Venice to find the previous owner of the music, she uncovers a dark secret that involves dangerously powerful people—a family who would stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.

Now, I gotta say, this doesn’t hold up next to the review Susan sent me. That review made it sound a lot better than this does, so much that she wants to pick up a copy and read it. She said something about Jeremy Wagner and his book, which she said was something Joss Whedon wished he wrote and maybe this might be up that same alley.

Whatever. I think the alley is dark and scary and maybe I’m not down with this, but I know Susan is and I bet some of you are and if nothing else, it sure is a break from the tried and true and familiar and all that.

So bring it. I’ll try it, but one single heebie jeebie and it’s going right back to Susan!

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It’s the last line here that has me scratching my head. Check the whole thing first, though, and then get to the last line:

Juliet Lyman is a senior executive at Yesterday Records. Music is her passion and she’s very good at her job. That’s why her famously philanthropic boss Gideon sends her to Majorca, Spain to work with a very tortured, but talented client. Lionel Harding is one of the best song writers of the 20th century, the multi-Grammy award-winning lyricist of the third most recorded song in history. But now he’s 42 and six months overdue on the his latest paid assignment. Juliet is not leaving Majorca without either new lyrics or a very large check.

To Juliet, business comes first. Emotions are secondary, and love isn’t even on the menu. But to Lionel, love is everything, and he blames Gideon for his broken heart. He’s determined to show Juliet that nothing is more important than love, but Juliet is just as determined to get Lionel to create the music that made him famous. If she can sign up local talent, even better. Her new friend Gabriella has a voice like an angel, but she’s not interested in fame. Her grandmother, Lydia, wants the world for Gabriella, and she wants Juliet’s help to give it to her.

As her professional and personal lives start to mix for the first time, Juliet is forced to reevaluate her priorities. Gideon hasn’t been totally honest, and love may be the only thing that gives them all what they need.

Island in the Sea is Anita Hughes’ captivating sixth novel, filled with exotic descriptions of food, fashion, and romance.

Okay, so this book is all about coercing music out of musical people, right? And then we get to this last line. exotic descriptions of food, fashion, and romance. That’s almost enough to make a girl walk away!

Hello? A lot of us read for the music!

And yeah, I want to read this one. You better believe it! Not only does the main plot revolve around music, so does a subplot! How often do we see that?

Bring it. Bring it soon, and bring it right to Susan’s inbox.

(This is described as being “A Majorca Love Story,” but Goodreads doesn’t list it as being part of a series. So I’m not sure if it is a series or not… who cares, when the music is so important?

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First in a series alert! And also an “Is it Rock Fiction” alert. Read on and see why:

Two secrets. One bet. Who will break first?

Taylor Caldwell can’t decide if she wants to kiss her new college roommate or punch him.

On the one hand, Hunter Zaccadelli is a handsome blue-eyed bundle of charm. On the other, he’s a tattooed, guitar-playing bad boy. Maybe that’s why Taylor’s afraid of falling in love with him, or anyone else. She doesn’t want to get burned, so she needs him gone before it’s too late.

Hunter himself has been burned before, but Taylor’s sexy laugh and refusal to let him get away with anything make her irresistible. Determined not to be kicked out of her life without a fight, Hunter proposes a bet: if she can convince him she either truly loves or hates him, he’ll leave the apartment;and leave her alone.

But when the man behind Taylor’s fear of giving up her heart resurfaces, she has to decide: trust Hunter with her greatest secret, or do everything in her power to win that bet and drive him away forever.

Now, book two in the series is about other people, but book three is back to these two, and there’s no mention of tattoos or guitar playing. So the question is all about whether or not a mention of a “tattooed, guitar-playing bad boy” is enough to make this Rock Fiction or not.

And I gotta say: I like a book where the guy can’t get enough of the girl because of her laugh. It’s nice to see a character look beyond the physical.

Now, if only guys in real life would do that.

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Hey, everyone give a huge thanks to author SM Johnson for this one! Here’s what she had to say:

In the Midnight Rain by Barbara Samuel writing as Ruth Wind. Looked for it on your list, but didn’t see it. It’s more “blues” than rock, but it’s just a terrific story. Just dropping you guys this suggestion in case you’ve been mired in “meh” reads, and have time/energy to read something complex and wonderful. I personally have zip, zero invested, except to recommend a great book. Here’s the description….

A RITA award finalist for Best Contemporary Romance from Romance Writers of America. Barbara Samuel’s first women’s fiction, writing as Ruth Wind.

LOOKING FOR THE PAST…

Ellie Connor is a biographer with a special talent for piecing together fragments of the past. Her latest project, though, promises to be her most challenging–and personal. Not only is she researching the life of a blues singer who disappeared mysteriously forty years ago, but Ellie is also trying to find the truth about the parents she never knew. The love child of a restless woman who died young and an anonymous father, Ellie has little to go on but a faded postcard her mother sent from a small East Texas town–the hometown of her latest subject.

COULD MEAN FINDING HER FUTURE

It is there that Ellie meets Blue Reynard, a man with deep roots and wide connections who may help her find answers. With a piercing gaze and cool grin, Blue is as sultry and seductive as the Southern night air. Beneath his charming surface, however, lies a soul damaged by loss. Despite her better judgment, Ellie finds herself irresistibly drawn to Blue’s passion–and his pain. But Ellie’s been lured by sweet talk and hot kisses before. How can she possibly stay with Blue when every instinct tells her to run?

Around here, blues count as Rock Fiction. (Heck, we’ve included classical music and Regency Romances, so to kick this out would make us look like idiots and I don’t roll that way. Usually.)

And yeah, this even reads like a blues song.

I like. Gonna see if we can scare us up a copy.

Thanks, SM!!!

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You GUYS. It’s Tuesday and I’m supposed to be coveting some Rock Fiction for you all, but I can’t. For one, I signed up to be part of this release blitz (I thought Susan was signing me up to review the book, but guess not).

And for another, the book arrived late and I’m not done reading it because, let me tell you, this is one to sit and savor. And read with your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, or battery-operated friend. Or any combination! I don’t care! Just… wow! Don’t miss this one!

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Pick up your copy. Seriously. Go get it. And if you haven’t read the first in the series, Taking the Lead, get that one, too. In fact, since this is the second in the series, it might do you good to read the first and get the background. Taking the Lead set up the storyline, and Wild Licks doesn’t do a lot of time explaining what’s already come to be. This is a good thing ’cause the book oughta be able to stand on its own, and is actually better so far ’cause it doesn’t have to take us through the set-up.

I’ll be back with a review. Or beat me to it, if you want. But we are just getting STARTED with the Cecilia Tan and Wild Licks goodness around here!

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This one isn’t going to be published until September and it’s only July, but hey, that’s why these posts are all about books we WANT to read, not the books we already did. (Those go on Saturdays ’cause we can only read so fast.)

This one is the third in a series, which makes me think it’s the Rock Fiction Series Entry. Check it:

As the daughter of a music legend, Grace Davingham knows all too well what it’s like to be burned by the media’s glare. Now all she wants is to be left to do her painting and conservation work in peace, with no intention of returning to the spotlight. But after she sprains her ankle hiking and a handsome real-estate mogul comes to her rescue, Grace once again finds herself in the public eye.

Sexy, successful, and averse to any attachments, Marcus Colby thrives on rigid discipline in order to manage both his real-estate investment company and his personal life. Marc has no time for fun, and no patience for crazy. Which is why meeting Grace—and inheriting an enormous Great Dane who won’t listen to a word he says—has turned Marc’s carefully constructed world upside down.

Only when Grace and Marc square off over a local controversy do they realize how different they really are. But if opposites attract, their love is destined to bind them together—forever.

I love kids of star stories, even if they all too often wind up being Not Rock Fiction. And this one has potential to be Not Rock Fiction. But… it also sounds like fun. Great Danes? That’s a fun twist.

Bring this one, even if it winds up being Not Rock Fiction. Maybe it will surprise me on that front. (but given our track record lately… well, Susan says that she learned from her cats that hope springs eternal.)

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Rafe Rider is the lead singer of Destiny Fades to Blue, the “it boys” of rock. He is living the dream… traveling the country with his band, sharing his bed with the occasional groupie, and just living large… while their singles climb the charts.

Daisy Anderson is the lead singer of Sweet Southern Sass, the sweethearts and most famous female group of the last decade in country. Their sold out tour has ended and they are enjoying the down time while they prepare their next hit album.

Signed under the same label, a cross-over tour between the sweethearts of country and the bad boys of rock is just the thing to gather fans from both genres.
As the tour rolls out and the bands are thrust together… passion and tempers ignite as the “good” girl and the “bad” boy realize they aren’t quite as different as they imagined.

Can two people from different worlds find love on the road with the person they least expect? When the sweethearts of country meet the bad boys of rock… more than the charts heat up.

So much good stuff here… two singers. Whew, what will happen when THOSE egos collide? Oh, that’ll be fun to watch.

Yeah, okay, we’ve got some cliches. The easy time getting singles up the charts. The idea of a rock/country crossover tour. (do those really happen? I can’t think of any, but if you can, share what you know in the comments.) And, of course, the easy characterization: good girl, bad boy.

Still. Bring this ON.

Note from Susan: Is that REALLY a Donny and Marie reference in the series title? “A Lil Bit Country & A Lil Bit Rock & Roll”? REALLY?)