This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.
t was a pleasant surprise to see Lex Valentine drop into my inbox. Lex and I had fallen out of touch, but she’s a special lady in my world. Her presence in my inbox is always welcome.
Best of all, this time, she came with presents! Well, okay, only one. But one is better than none, especially when that one is Lex’s first Ellora’s Cave Release, Rock My World.
Yep, Lex was kind enough to send me a copy. So I thought I’d return the favor by posting some reviews of the book. After all, the only thing an author likes better than having someone love their work is when that reader loves their work publically, so others can see and agree. (Or not. Such is the nature of opinion.)
First off, let me say that Lex is known for explicit, hot sex. If that’s not your thing, walk away now. Even if you, like me, love books about rockers, if you’re not into watching Gia and Sin have all sorts of sex in all sorts of positions, places, and involving toys and various body parts, this isn’t the book for you. Lex almost rivals my friend Colette Gale, who promises at least one orgasm every chapter.
So, yeah. Let me say up front that Lex can write a sex scene. I’ve known that about her from before her days as a published writer, so it’s nice to see others getting to experience her skills.
I hate to say it, but in her quest to bring us such great sex, she sacrifices some character development. And that’s my biggest (and only) quibble with Rock My World.
The story is about rocker Gia Santora. She’s at the top of her game, surrounded by body guards, and badly scarred by an event with a stalker. She’s also tired of the rock star one-night stand life. And did I mention she’s in lust with the frontman of her opening act, Sinclair Carstens? Sin’s young enough to have grown up with posters of Gia on his walls and more fantasies than a guy can remember. But the ones he does remember…
He gets to act them out, and then some, when Gia and he crash into each other in the wings. Their first meeting, as they’d been studiously avoiding each other, is properly rushed, but not so fast that the sparks can’t begin flying. These two have chemistry, all right. They’re also in a position where they’re willing and able to commit to each other.
I love this part of the story. These two are at opposite ends of the spectrum — Gia’s on top and has been there awhile. She gets this world she lives in. It’s jaded her a bit, but not so bad that she has to give it up. Nope. She’s a rocker, all right. It’s in her blood.
Sin, on the other hand, is a youngster — not just in age, but experience. Opening for Gia is his band’s big break. When Gia allows him into her rarefied air, he learns much.
Or, he should. This is where the shallow character development comes in. I’d have liked to see more of the impact on Sin. Through his relationship with Gia, he’s experiencing the difference between being an opening act and a headliner. He takes it in stride — but then, he seems to take everything but Gia in stride. She runs off, trying to protect him from her stalker? Okay, fine. He’ll roll with that, too.
It’s kind of frustrating. I want to see his passion for more than her. For his music. For the commitment he’s making to her. I want to see him struggle with how different their worlds are, how difficult the age barrier can be. He mentions Gia’s got a more mature body than she did when she was younger, but we don’t get to see him really process that too much. This was a missed opportunity for some real older-woman appreciation here. Let him lick a hipbone that’s not bony like a twenty-some chick’s hipbone would be. Let him realize how much better that is.
Gia, too, could have used more depth, especially where her stalker’s scars are so evident. This guy terrorized her; I’d have loved to see her be truly vulnerable. To struggle with her memories and her fears. We see a bit of her with her fear of flying, but I want more. I want to connect with her, understand her, empathize with her. I want to feel as though I can change places with her and be her for the length of this book.
Ahh, and there’s the problem. It’s not that Lex can’t develop a good, deep character who transcends the page and comes alive. I’ve read some of her unpublished stuff. I know darn well she can do this.
Rather, the issue is that an Ellora’s Cave book can only be so long. And when you’re busy packing all that delicious sex into it, something’s got to be sacrificed. It can’t be plot; if it is, we wind up in the areas where people talk in terms of soft-core and hard-core. So… it’s a bit of characterization that suffers.
Too bad, because this book could have been one of my top reads of the year. I wish it was, and not just because Lex is a friend. I like the concept.
Good news for me — and for you guys, too. Lex is working on a follow-up, featuring one of the characters from Rock My World, James the guitarist. I’ll be on the lookout for it. Once you read this one, I suspect you will be, too.