Archive for June, 2014

Jett and I love hearing from authors (and yes, to reach Jett, use Susan’s e-mail), so we were super excited when author MJ Kane popped into my inbox.

She was responding to my Coveting post, where I’d talked about my curiosity being piqued as to whether or not her book, A Heart Not Easily Broken, is Rock Fiction. Here’s what she had to say (reprinted with permission, duh. Like I’d ever dishonor someone like that? Sheesh.)

Is this Rock Fiction?
My answer: No, it was not my intention to write Rock Fiction. My stories are a combination of Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance, and Interracial Romance. I write reality romance that addresses subjects that nearly every reader can relate to in some way. The subject matter of A Heart Not Easily Broken is about a couple who enters an interracial romance, how their relationship grows organically, and how Ebony handles being raped, her insecurities, and fear of loosing her boyfriend. My goal was to encourage readers to look outside the box for love, embrase the differences, and learn to open up to friends and family when something bad happens to them. We are not made of stone and holding things, thinking we are protecting those around us is not good. We all need help. Brian is not necessarily a rocker, lol, but he is a musician who plays bass guitar in a band and owns his own company. His dream is to make money in the industry, but primarily as a studio musician, thus the reason why music, or the band, isn’t a major focus in the story, but a part of him and his aspirations. I hope this clears it up for you. It was never my intention for him to come across as a major rocker. 🙂

Now, does THAT make you think, or WHAT?

Now, of course, part of what makes a book Rock Fiction is how the characters inhabit their musicality, so when MJ was kind enough to offer me a free copy, I snapped it up. Gotta see for myself, right?

(And yes, Jett is fumingly angry at me. I got Nancy Loyan’s book and now this one and yes, I’m a hog and keep them for myself. When she’s caught up on the stack I gave her, she can have others and do I sound like a mother, or WHAT?)

Was MJ not gracious enough for you? Well, she knocked my socks off with her next e-mail: she’s offering TWO copies to my readers.  Just leave a comment, make sure you fill out the e-mail part of the comment form — it won’t be visible or kept or anything — and I’ll pick two names out of a hat and boom, you’ll get a copy.

Join me. Let’s see what this one’s all about. I can’t wait.

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

The biggest problem with great books is that you never get around to reading them fast enough. That’s the case with Olivia Cunning’s Backstage Passes, the first in her Sinners on Tour series.

It’s the story of a woman we know as Myrna, a psychologist who happens to specialize in human sexuality. She’s also had a very private thing for sexy guitarist Brian Sinclair, a thing she never expects to come anywhere near fulfilling – until she runs into the band. She’s staying in the hotel for a conference. The band, sans security, is on tour. Myrna likes Brian. Brian, even in his drunken state, likes Myrna. He’s not too drunk, so off they go, embarking on a torrid affair that is really this book’s strength.

Now, I’ve read plenty of erotica. I have plenty of friends who write it. None handle the merge of sex scenes and storyline as adeptly as Ms. Cunning. The action doesn’t grind to a halt while Myrna and Brian to get it on, for pages at a time. It makes sense within the story, and even though it does last for pages – hey, he’s a rocker. What do we expect, if not longevity? – it’s inventive, hot, and just tawdry enough to let us see that Myrna’s not merely living out her fantasies featuring Brian Sinclair, she’s living out every fantasy every woman has ever had about a rock star.

Best of all, Cunning lets Myrna experiment with sex in a safe setting – and is brave enough to let her not like certain elements, at least on the first go-round. Brian is also evolved enough to accept her comfort level. Is it too idealistic? You read and decide.

For all the good, there are some issues. Brian’s parents are a bit too good to be true, and the good psychologist finds a solution to the estrangement from his father that doesn’t take any particular skill to work out. Myrna herself seems awfully unaware of sex, its ramifications, and other mental issues that you’d expect of an expert in human sexuality. Not that she should walk around spouting off sexual facts or commenting on what it means when Eric gets involved in an encounter with Brian without it turning into a threesome, but she should have more awareness of what’s at play here. And finally, the situation with her ex comes into play too late, almost as if it’s an afterthought, a spot where conflict via a subplot was called for, so something materialized out of thin air. While many romances would have Myrna more aware of the threat Jeremy posed to the point where it gets to be too much, some middle ground in the form of an inkling earlier on would have been better.

And then there’s the rock and roll details. The band drives its own tour bus? Roadies are enlisted to drive Myrna’s car? The bus seems more like a Winnebago, which is fine if you’re on the Warped Tour, but The Sinners aren’t doing Warped. They’re represented as being on a bus. Also, when you’re on a guest list, you need to show ID, which means you can’t have a cutsie last name given to you by an impertinent band member. There are other details that suggest this isn’t Ms. Cunning’s area of strength, but she redeems herself by creating a band full of characters who live and breathe. They aren’t cliché in the least.

Still, this is an erotic romance, and it’s there that Ms. Cunning shines. She’s smart enough to let her rockers have warts, and she lets Myrna not only see them, but accept them. The exception would be the conflict with his father, where it’s Myrna to the rescue so she can prove her love for her man.

I don’t know many people who read erotic romance for the storyline or the authenticity of the rock and roll lifestyle details. Not as their first desire, anyway. It’s about the sex, and I’ve read enough of the erotic stuff that I’ve got no issue saying that she’s one of the best out there—although I will apologize to my many friends who write erotic romance. This is by no means a cut to you guys. Rather, it’s high praise for Ms. Cunning, whose sex is inventive and creative. It fits the story – and best of all, as the relationship progresses, the sex scenes become mentions, nothing more. It’s a mirror for how a real-life relationship plays out: all hot at first, then tapering off into something comfortable and right. And while the loss of these wildly fun scenes is noted, the storyline is strong enough, despite its flaws, to keep our interest. And those characters? You just want to spend days more with them.

I can’t wait to pick up the second book in the series. It’s sitting on my shelf, waiting for me.

Like I said, you can never get to the great ones soon enough.

Woot! Better than a menage, it’s a lirez-a-trois — a trilogy!

(Yes, I thought that was funny. No, I will not share what, if anything, I’m smoking.)

It’s called the Rock Star trilogy, written by the twenty-something Mercy Amare.

Jaded is the first, to judge by publication date. Then comes Faded and finally, Hated.

I’m Scarlett Ryan.

Yes, THAT Scarlett Ryan.

I live an extraordinary life: millionaire rock star, owner of exotic cars, pictures of me in every magazine, millions of fans, and a name that is recognized world wide. It’s supposed to be my dream come true. But, my life IS a fantasy, and I want real. I want exciting. I want… NORMAL. So, I moved from California to Florida, hoping to obtain some normalcy. Instead I find…

Stephan Montgomery.

He’s an arrogant jerk. Seriously, I hate him. I swear if he tells me one more blonde joke, I will punch him… again… Unfortunately I can’t stop thinking about him, or his gorgeous green eyes. Trust me, I know that he’s bad for me. If only my heart would listen.

I also find out that my parents have kept a LIFE CHANGING secret from me. I need to know the truth.

The harder I strive for normal, the stranger things seem to get.


Umm… Isn’t Miami  Beach in Florida? Is that really getting away from it all?

This is actually an interesting premise, the idea of running away from the trappings of success and getting back to basics … and love. It’s been done before, of course, but … I don’t know. Maybe I’m hooked because the book description has such energy.

The reviews are mixed. Some say it reads like this is the author’s fantasy rather than real fiction, a real danger with Rock Fiction. Many point out bad editing (hire me, babe!). I’ll reserve judgement until I read the book, or all three, as the case may be.

I’ll give Ms. Amare credit for a couple of things: she follows Scarlett through each book. It sounds like she lets Scarlett grow and change, too, although the final conclusion at the end of the description of Hated made me roll my eyes:

I tried for normal — now I know that there is nothing normal about being a rock star.

Really? What took so long to figure that out?

Still, I’ll reserve final judgement until I’ve read the books. The plot twists sound interesting, and New Adult is hot, hot, hot right now.


Originally posted at West of Mars, this review is being posted at its new home at The Rock of Pages.

When Bill Flanagan’s A&R first crossed my radar, I knew I had to read it. Even though it’s copyrighted 2000 and well past the date at which I knew I wasn’t going to realize my (short-lived) dream of being an A&R chick, I still needed to read this book.

It took awhile to get my hands on it. Years. And then it took years more for me to pull it out of the depths of my famed TBR mountain range and actually read it.
Once I did, however, I absolutely adored it.

Now, let me say that the music industry depicted in A&R doesn’t resemble the industry I’d gotten to know in the early 1990s, the industry I almost went to work for. That doesn’t mean it’s not real. In fact, this book resonates with truth. It’s that I was aiming for smaller labels, folks who don’t play on this scale. I’d have been sheltered from a lot of this — I hope.

And yet, there probably is no shelter. People like Booth and DeGaul and even protagonist (and naif) Jim Cantone can be found anywhere. This both widens the book’s appeal beyond us music biz junkies and takes away a lot of the glamour that we think of when we think about the music business.

The glamour is, in fact, kept to a minimum. Yep, there’s exotic travels that Jim gets dragged along on, but there’s also violence. Real violence. There’s sex — and quite bit consequences that go along with it. It’s a strength of this book that Jim can see all of this first-hand and retain his core values and focus, even as he realizes the hard truths of what your wardrobe says about you, and what it means to conform. Yes, conform. Even in the famously non-conformist music industry, you’ve got to find a way to fit in if you want to advance.

It’s a sad lesson, but then again, so are many of the lessons that Jim learns as the book unfolds. It may be rock and roll, but in this case, we’re not so sure we like it.

Uhh… we’re not so sure we like this world of rock and roll. The book? We loved.

Rocktober is approaching, just on the far side of the summer that’s sprung on us when we were still recovering from that awful, brutal, horrible winter. (Gee, Sooz, tell us what you really thought of it!)

Actually, Rocktober is just an excuse. I’ve been contacted by a number of Rock Fiction authors who’d like to get extra reviews for their books, so I figured that since this is the home of Rock Fiction, what better place to put out a call for reviewers?

If you’re a Rock Fiction lover — and I mean lover, not necessarily expert — drop us a line and let’s see if we can hook you up with some of the best Rock Fiction out there. Can’t promise there won’t be clunkers, but you ARE free to leave a review saying why a book is a clunker.

If you’ve never reviewed or need help, holler, and Susan and the West of Mars Editorial staff would be glad to help you craft some well-written reviews. The thought-provoking part? That’s all on you.