Archive for March, 2015

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Look what we have here! It’s new! It’s special!

It’s the first in a series. Here’s the description.

Cooper Krenshaw knows what it’s like to feel the bright lights upon him, the sound of the crowd roaring when he walks on stage; after all, he happens to be one of the biggest names in country music at the moment. And he has knowingly just dropped off the grid. The first decision he has made on his own in quite some time. Cooper only thought he was looking for a challenge when he walked off of that concert stage in Chicago. After finding himself in Devil’s Bend, Texas, he soon realizes that the dream he’s been chasing might not be the one he was after all along.

Now he’s found himself not only starting over in a new town, but he’s pretty sure he’s met the toughest challenge of his life… she just happens to be an angel in blue jeans.

Tessa Donovan hasn’t been the best of friends with Fate for quite some time now. Owning and operating The Rusty Nail, a small bar in her hometown of Devil’s Bend, has been enough to keep her going through the motions of her life. But it’s the only thing she’s got. After losing her husband fifteen short months after they were married, Tessa has spent the last four years chasing dreams in order to maintain her sanity. Only those dreams are soon ripped right out of her grasp by a sexy country music star who claims he descended on her small town by accident.

Coincidence? Or has Fate stepped in once again? Whatever the case, Tessa knows the handsome cowboy might get to overtake her dreams, but she’s bound and determined that he won’t take her heart.

Well, it may be a series, but there’s some fresh stuff happening here. He’s a dropout, which isn’t too terribly new, but I haven’t seen in awhile, so that’s good. And he’s a country star, which isn’t new either, but it’s not the cliche. And not a mention of how many groupies the man surrounds himself with — THAT is definitely new and welcome.

The heroine is the new kind of kick-ass woman: presumably widowed and a bar owner. Bar owners, historically in fiction, are tough women. So right there, it sounds like there might be some verbal fireworks before there are bedroom fireworks.

Bring this one on.

Oh, and the rest of the series? Hard to tell, as books three and four are only marked as untitled, but have a name beside them in parentheses. To judge by the second book, the series rounds out by following the rest of the band. The guy in the second book even follows Cooper to the same town and finds love in the same bar. Maybe it’s too much coincidence. Only one way to find out…

One more thing? These books seem to be about the men, not the women. Susan loves to tell the story of the agent who said she had to be writing about women because who’d want to read about men? Looks like all of Edwards’ books are at least a lot about the men. Susan’s not the only one who wants to read about men. I sure do.

Bring these on!

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Yep, it’s another first in a series today. I swear, series are the new book crack.

This one is called Back-Up, and here’s the description. It’s long, so get ready.

THERE’S A NEW ROCK STAR IN TOWN AND HIS NAME IS JACK LAIR…

Leila Marino’s biggest dream is to become a rock star. A lucky opportunity has her auditioning with an up & coming rock band named Devil’s Lair. The band hires Leila as their back-up singer, signing her up for months in the studio and touring on the road with the sexy bunch.

Jack is the quintessential rock star…gorgeous…sexy…a walking orgasm. Jack Lair is the lead singer of Devil’s Lair and his dreams are becoming reality as his band climbs the ladder of success. He’s living the perfect life, and enjoying every minute of it. With a steady stream of sexual conquests that satisfies his raging libido, he thinks he has all he needs in life…until Leila enters it.

Jack is not prepared for the sudden pull he feels towards Leila, and struggles daily to deny his attraction is anything more. Leila finds falling for her new boss is constant torment. Both convince themselves friendship is their only option.

An intimate moment causes their willpower to collapse, and their erotic love affair to begin. Finding love was a bonus that neither Jack nor Leila anticipated. As they begin their tour together professionally and personally, life couldn’t be any better for the couple. Until a mistake from Jack’s past threatens their new relationship, and their perfect future together.

A quick check with my buds who still work in rock and roll show it’s rare for an up-and-coming band to use backup singers. Established bands? Heck yeah, especially the dudes who’ve aged and can’t hit those high notes anymore. But a new band? Nope, not unless the singer’s a girlfriend.

So that’s the first problem. The second is that once again, the rocker is a manwhore who is reformed by the love of one good woman. Can’t we come up with rockers who are different, folks? They’re starting to be interchangeable, and that’s not a good thing.

Where it gets interesting is as the series rolls on. The third book, in particular, has the oddest description I’ve ever read. There’s no idea of the plot, just a note from the author that it’s a projection into the future and it sounds like the tone is very different from the first two.

And then we go to the fourth — how can there be a fourth after we’ve dived into a crystal ball? Oh, it makes sense when you realize the fourth book is about a different set of characters. At least we stay with the band.

Still, I’m curious, like usual. When aren’t I? This is why Susan keeps me around. Bring it on. I need to read it.

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I am missing something. I must be because this isn’t the first series that’s caught my eye and then wound up veering out of the world of Rock Fiction and into … something else entirely.

Now it’s the Shattered Heart Series, written by Cassia Leo. I’ve coveted her books before, mostly Black Box. [Mostly? Try only, Jett –Susan]

The first four books in the series, two of which are those oh-so-hot in-between books, are about a rocker. Who’s red hot, of course. Who can’t leave this woman behind although it sounds like there’s a lot of breaking up and getting back together with him over the course of the books.

See?

Claire Nixon is a college student with a past full of secrets and heartbreak.

At seven years old, the death of her mother by drug overdose destroys her faith in humanity and herself as she is tossed from one foster home to another. Feeling unwanted and disposable, she fights to keep herself safe in the system. Until, at the age of fifteen, she is saved by her first love, and soon-to-be rock star, Chris Knight and his mother, who quickly becomes the mother she always wanted.

When Claire encourages Chris to leave town to pursue his dreams of musical stardom, both Claire and Chris don’t realize this will be the biggest mistake of their lives.

One year after Chris leaves on tour, Claire has carved out a new life for herself in a new city far away from the life she left behind with Chris. On a fateful morning, she meets sexy surfer Adam Parker.

To Claire, Adam is just another flirty customer at the cafe, until a chance encounter and seemingly innocent comment spurs a bet between them. The bet is simple: If Adam can get Claire to reveal the secret that made her drop out of college and leave her life behind, she has to re-enroll. If he doesn’t succeed, she gets to keep her secret and he has to stop stalking her at the cafe.

Claire thinks she has this one in the bag. She’s perfected the art of forgetting her past. But she isn’t prepared for Adam’s relentless pursuit or for him to share his own secrets. And she’s definitely not prepared for the love of her life, Chris Knight, and her secret, to come banging down her door one year later.

I don’t know. Maybe this is more about Claire than it is Rock Fiction. Sure seems that way, as it seems like Chris being a guitar player is really there to get him out of the way so Claire can figure out how she feels about him. That might explain why the series itself isn’t Rock Fiction.

Gonna have to read and find out, of course.

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Seems every time I turn around lately, I’m hearing of a lot more of two things: Rock Fiction done in a series and male-male stories.

Like what Lori Toland’s cooked up. Check the description of the first book, The Replacement Guitarist:

Blaze Shinozuka has two goals: get a job as a guitarist and lose his virginity. At an audition for a famous pop star, he draws the attention of celebrity manager Jason Stockton—and their instant attraction sends his world careening off its axis just as he is thrust into the gritty world of rock ‘n’ roll.

Straight-laced music manager Jason Stockton is always professional and never dips his pen in the company ink. But there is something about Blaze that leaves him wanting what he shouldn’t. The guitarist’s exotic beauty and compelling innocence is a temptation Jason can’t resist.

After one lie in the national media pushes them apart, Blaze must decide whether he will trust Jason, a man he shouldn’t touch, let alone love. The cutthroat, jealous world of rock ‘n’ roll, has chewed up and spit out the toughest musicians, and Blaze vows he will be the last man standing, even after the music stops.

I like that when this opens, Blaze is a newbie. How much Rock Fiction is about either someone with Rock and Roll dreams, or else is about the jaded star who’s been into the groupie thing forever and is ready to be reformed?

And I like that it’s not another member of the band who Blaze has it for. In this scenario, I can see management getting involved and being around.

The rest of the series is interesting. Blaze and Jason weather hardships. Get fired. Break up. And by the fifth book, Blaze has made it and he’s an official pop star. (Really? A guitarist is a pop star?) And then Jason comes back around. This is one of those books that will either end the series or let it continue — If they break up, where’s left to go, story-wise? Isn’t the series about Jason and Blaze? But if they get back together, there’s a big world they can explore together…

I’m curious. Yes, me, who doesn’t particularly care for the gay lit. I’d read this series in a heartbeat.

So awhile back, Jett wondered why, in an age where authors give their rockers pretty charismatic names, Nicky Wells would name her dude Dan. Lucky us — Nicky saw Jett’s post and dropped Susan a line, offering to explain. And so, without further ado, here she is.

Nicky Wells Banner

What’s in a name? Meet Dan Hunter, lead singer of rock band Tuscq

Why is Dan called Dan? Susan and Jett asked me. Dan is a pretty humble and down-to-earth kind of name, not exactly en vogue as far as fancy rock star names go, or so they say. And they’re most probably right.

Well. I have a confession to make. I didn’t do any research of any kind on rock star name fashions. But I did think long and hard about the kind of person my first golden-voiced bad boy hero would be. He’d be a serial womaniser, for he loves women as much as he loves rock ‘n’ roll. He’d be notoriously hard to tie down, and he’d be known for his many flings and dalliances. On the plus side, he’d be clean. As in, he wouldn’t do drugs; apart from anything else, they’re bad for the voice. He’d love sex, but he‘d be down to earth and kind. This man would be no Christian Grey. He’d want his women to be happy when he’s with them, and he’d like to leave them with a big goofy smile when he takes off again. He’d be smart, intuitive, and occasionally tempestuous. His friends would matter to him, and he’d be a bit of a joker. Oh, and if you saw him on stage, you’d throw your knickers at him for he would be charisma on legs.

Bearing all that in mind, I settled on the name Dan for a number of reasons. Here goes.

1.) I like the name. Yup, it really is a simple as that. I like the name Dan. Short, sweet and to the point, and it has an ‘a’ sound in which goes very well with ‘aaaaah, Dan!’ You can shout and swoon over one-syllable names much more easily than two syllable ones!

2.) I didn’t know anyone else by that name at the time I picked it. I knew a few Dans in my time, but there was no Dan in my life when I started writing. I’ll admit that the positive traits of some of the Dan people I knew in the past probably influenced me, but other than that, Dan was a clean slate.

3.) I thought that ‘Dan’ and ‘Hunter’ worked very well together. If the first name is short and humble, the second name introduces that predatory element.

And last but not least: 4.) By the time the last book in the series would roll around—that would be Sophie’s Encore—I would need a name that would be very similar to ‘Dad.’ Some of the key moments in Sophie’s Encore hinge on the close proximity between ‘Dan’ and ‘Dad’ in a two-year-old’s speech repertoire. See, I’m a woman with a plan!

And there you have it. I’ve been very, very happy with Dan, and I cried when I had to leave him and Sophie behind. I’ll be writing many more rock stars in the future, but there’ll never be anyone else quite like Dan. He’s simply perfect with all his imperfections.

Oh hey, and don’t forget to check out Dan and Sophie on Tuscq’s single, Love Me Better, a classic eighties-style rock ballad!

Susan here again… man, do I need to read these books. Nicky’s been an absolute doll to talk to and I have nothing but respect and esteem for her. I hope she’ll be a semi-regular in these parts going forward!

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Let’s get right to it:

Ravenel Hayes is a perfect daughter, a loving sister, a loyal friend, and an excellent student. Returning home to complete her MBA and be closer to her family, she has her future all mapped out. That is until her path leads her straight into Declan Collins. The dark haired, tattooed singer with a sinful body is a distraction, one that’s way out of her league. He wasn’t part of her plan. But now that he’s literally knocking on her door, how can she avoid him?

Declan Collins lives life to the edge. His only emotional attachments are to his family and his band. He’s your typical bad-boy, lead singer who lives with no regrets. “Hook-up and head-out” is his motto. His ultimate goal is to take his band all the way to the top, or so it was. When he runs into Raven, she stirs up emotions in him that he had never thought possible. From their very first meeting, there’s no denying the chemistry between them. He’s not a relationship guy, but can she change his playboy ways?

Jealousy, anger, stalkers, and fame and fortune threaten to tear these two apart. Will surrendering to their love get them through the challenges that await them? Or will it tear them apart?

On the surface, not much sets this series starter apart from a million other Rock Fiction romances. This one’s going to be all about the execution and the ride.

Here’s the second book, Surviving:

Raven Hayes experienced a love she thought would last forever. Declan Collins consumed her from the moment she fell into his arms. Their love was what fairytales are made of. But when his band is given an opportunity of a lifetime, he made the one choice that would tear them apart.

Walking away from him and leaving for the summer seemed to be the best idea to mend a broken heart. With the love and support of her best friend, the pain eases, but a decision has to be made. Is Declan her forever? Is she prepared to have a place in his rock star life?

Declan’s broken when Raven leaves. She tamed him and taught him what all- consuming love is. So many factors tried to pull them apart, but his choice was the one to push her away and possibly into the arms of another man. Losing her is not an option. Now he’ll do anything to get her back. And this time she will never doubt the depth of his love and commitment to her.

The journey to their happily ever after is paved with obstacles and challenges, will their love survive?

Still not seeing it… but I’ve seen Ahren Sanders’ name all over the place, so she’s working hard to get herself out there. There’s only one way to judge this one, and that’s by reading it, so bring it on.

And no, I don’t ever get tired of reading Rock Fiction, even when it is the same old thing. Each book is different, no matter how alike they seem. The characters act different, talk different… it’s all good. (Except for when it’s bad.)

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Years ago, author Richard Sharp really wanted Susan to review his book, The Duke Don’t Dance. It was, she says, a usual claim: it’s Rock Fiction ’cause the characters are shaped by the music of the Sixties.

People, it takes more than that for a book to be Rock Fiction. Music has to somehow shape the story, the events. The book has to throb with it. Because otherwise, every book that had a character singing along to “I Love Rock and Roll” would be Rock Fiction. It just doesn’t work that way.

Susan wanted my take on the book because it was a DNF for her. And… I gotta say, I didn’t do much better about it. I don’t know what her reasons were, but my main reason was that the whole thing feels told to us. We’re never there in the action; it’s all removed. And that made for a boring read.

Susan said the author was very nice. But it’s books like this that made her quit reviewing: she hates telling a very nice author she didn’t much care for his book. Lucky me to get the gig doing that.

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Susan and Jessica Sorensen need to make friends. I only say that because part of the deal here is that I don’t talk to authors, Susan does. And this is an author who’s got to be authentic Rock Fiction through and through.

It’s Jessica Sorensen I’m talking about, and in addition to the other book I coveted, she’s got a whole series of Rock Fiction goodness. Seven books, to be exact, although almost half of them are the in-between books that are all the rage right now.

Micha’s in a band. He and Ella love each other. And the series seems to be about their navigating their love and their relationship. Or… at least, part of this series is about Ella and Micha. Book Three is about a different couple entirely, and so is one of the in-between books.

I don’t get why. This is starting to look like a new trend, and to be honest, it’s one I don’t like. Either do a series that focuses on all the people in the band (or group, or whatever), or do two different series. But don’t confuse the issue with new people. It’s like you’re pulling a bait-and-switch on me or something, even though this time around, the book titles tell us which characters the books are about.

Ella and Micha, I want to read about. I want the Rock Fiction angle. Those other two? The ones who seem to have nothing to do with music? Yeah, no thanks. Not until I’ve read the others and can decide if it’s worth the deviation. I mean, have you seen how much Rock Fiction there is out there anymore? And yes, it’s my mission to read ’em all.

I’d better get busy.

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Here’s the first in a series called The Phoenix Boys. The boys seem to be a set of triplets, and I’m curious about that whole vibe.

Lucy Cooper has known The Phoenix family all her life. But one particular Phoenix has always caught her eye, Rafe Phoenix. Rafe is a triplet with his brothers Ryder and Reeve and the three of them form a band called Inside Noise.

Lucy and Rafe’s timing was always off, with boyfriends and girlfriends getting in the way but after a traumatic night at their high school bonfire with a cheating boyfriend and a life changing event Lucy and Rafe connect on a deeper level.

But things happen in life that make you realise that you need to escape and have time away to heal. Lucy needs to find herself again which she’s does on her travels. After traveling the world and arriving back in LA, Lucy re-connects with Rafe but will their friendship blossom into something more or will Lucy still hold him at arms length?

Doesn’t really sound like Rock Fiction, does it? I guess it’ll come down to how much of this is Rafe’s story. Should be most of the book, right? It’s named after him.

But try Ryder, the second book in the series:

Inside Noise is going strong and for Ryder Phoenix the strong feeling to settle down is growing in him too. He has been there and done most groupie sluts but he wants more, he wants what his brother has. With his stubborn ways Ryder doesn’t go looking for love, he wants it to fall into his lap which it almost does in the form of Letty Shaw.

Letty has her own personal issues that have forced her to grow up quicker than most girls her age, but she does it all in the name of love. After meeting hot rock star Ryder Phoenix, she decides to move forward with her love life, and take the all important leap with her heart but she guards her heart as it’s not only her own heart that she needs to look out for.

Will Ryder be the man she is willing to let her guard down for, will she let Ryder’s heart beat with hers?

Sigh. Yep. The guy’s tired of groupie sluts. Always gotta be the groupies with Rock Fiction… whatever happened to the cool chicks? Why aren’t they present in Rock Fiction these days (Hey, Susan, get on that, will ya already?)?

Anyway, so it sounds like Letty is a teen or a young mom. Now there is an interesting twist I’d want to read more about.

Heck, this series has me curious. (Susan says there are enough typos and clunkers in these descriptions to make her hope Amy Davies just forgot to run her cover copy by her editor, and that the inside stuff will be better. Typical Susan.)

I see some fresh ideas in here. I’m curious. Bring it on.

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This might be a new one by me. It’s a kid’s book. And yes, it seems to be Rock Fiction.

Have a look at what I mean:

What happens when a young girl with a Hall of Fame baseball pedigree breaks the family mold and follows her dream to become a soul singer? Roxy Rogers: Your Destiny Is Calling, a picture book recommended for ages 6 – 9, lets children see their families will love them just the same when they pursue their true passions in life.

Everybody in Roxy’s family–from her great-grandpa (played with Lou Gehrig), to her grandpa (played with Jackie Robinson), to her mother (super-star college softball player), to her father (was a Los Angeles Dodger), to her sister (won a Gold Medal for Team USA Softball, and so on)–famously played ball, and Roxy is next in line. The only problem is that Roxy dreams of singing soul music like her idol, Aretha Franklin! A historical addendum provides information about the Hall of Fame baseball players who turn up in the book, as well as Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul music. Additionally, a fun treasure hunt for clues about Roxy’s true destiny runs throughout the book, giving readers an enhanced, interactive experience.

Yep. Start the kids early on their Rock and Roll dream. I can’t remember how old I was when I fell in love with music, but it was pretty young. A book like this would’ve probably changed my life, even though I really like where I am now. Maybe I’m living the dream, even though I don’t work in rock and roll. But I do work in music, and it’s all good.