Archive for January, 2016

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DESIGNED BY TOJ PUBLISHING SERVICES
WWW.TOJPUBLISHING.COM

There’s something about the way Cecilia Tan writes. I love it. Just love it. So much that twenty pages into her newest book, Taking the Lead, I had to stop and send e-mails to half my book friends, telling them they needed to read this, too. Tan gets the world of the rich, famous, and rock star royalty. She knows how the power players work. And it shows in these books she’s turning out. If that’s your thing, don’t miss Tan’s books. Period. That should be my whole review.

Except, did I mention she knows how to write a sex scene? Hoo boy, she can write it hot. Susan thinks Lorelei James is the gold standard. For me, it’s Tan.

So. Taking the Lead is about two of these power players and what happens when they find each other. Ricki Hamilton is a movie production chick. I’m not exactly sure of her pedigree, but it seems to be there, and I’m really not sure of her passion for movies as opposed to her passion for going to the office. But we hear all about this secret dungeon she’s inherited from her beloved grandfather and she’s got to run it. Except, of course, there’s all sorts of problems including a possessive loser with holier-than-thou issues. He’s a charmer. I hope he gets chained to the Daisy wheel in the dungeon and left upside down for days.

Ricki’s partner in lust here is Axel, a rocker who… he just doesn’t seem like much of a rocker to me. He doesn’t have that special charisma and half the time, I had trouble remembering if he was a singer or a guitar player. Axel could have been any other Hollywood player. He just didn’t stick out as a musician/rocker type. And I wanted him to.

So Axel and Ricki get together and suddenly, his kinda sorta there dom tendencies show up and Ricki’s all too glad to be his sub even though this woman who owns a dungeon doesn’t know exactly what that means. Axel’s glad to teach her, and in the heat of the moment, she’s glad to learn. It’s when she thinks and gets into her head that the problems begin.

Pretty damn normal, if you ask me. I know an awful lot of people who overthink and no, I’m not looking at my Rock of Pages boss here. Nope.

That’s their biggest obstacle: Ricki. Not sure she wants this lifestyle, she and Axel talk about it a lot. And that’s a good thing, especially because this isn’t one of those books where they start off with the spanking and end with the anal and it all goes according to script. Nope. This is a new-to-me sort of submission and domination and I bet this is a good representation of it being done right. I love that Axel has some really dead-on instincts about Ricki and they talk about things—well, he talks and she listens—and instead of Axel being a total domineering idiot, he cares about Ricki in a way that most doms don’t—at least in the fiction I’ve read, and I’ve read more than I probably should have. At times, their dialogue doesn’t feel real, especially when they start talking about BDSM using that exact acronym, but what’s important here is that Ricki is open to it, and not just because of the dungeon she never knew about.

If anything, she seems to keep what she and Axel do very separate from the activities in the dungeon. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad or how I feel about it because they should be intertwined but they’re not. I’m also not sure how I feel about the idea that being into the scene is genetic, which is pretty much what Ricki learns as she comes to terms with the death of her mother. And, too, the ending, which mirrors what she learns about her mother, bugs me. It seems like too much too soon, more of a neat ending to a book than truth.

So I’ve got these gripes, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t the best book I’ve read in a long time. I love that there’s issues of Hollywood gender power games and the dungeon and the legacy Ricki’s grandfather left that she has to fight against. I love that the situation with her father isn’t cut-and-dry, and I doubt we’re done coming to understand that poor screwup of a man. I love the depth of this world that Ricki inhabits, although that’s part of why Axel falls a bit short. It’s a hard act to follow!

Like I said, I love that Axel cares about her, that he’s not always the barking-orders type of dom who ignores her needs and tries to bury who she is so that she can serve him better. I love that Ricki gets to be herself, not who Axel thinks she ought to be. I love the sex and how it’s hot and it’s different and I love that scene in the limo, when she puts her hands behind her back and I swear, that is hotter than almost any sex scene I’ve ever read anywhere else. I love how Axel comes to own her, I love that he’s a rocker who thinks and who does rise above most of the usual stereotypes (I just wish he felt more musical). I love that they’re going to be a power couple and this is the first in a series and I really hope we get to see how they evolve as that power couple and how the dungeon changes because of them and how Hollywood changes because of them and maybe somewhere along the way, Axel will rediscover what it is that made him join a band in the first place because right now, I’m just not feeling it and I’m all about Rock Fiction so as much as I like the kinky fiction, I’m even more about the Rock and Roll, so bring it, please.

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Thanks to the folk at Rock Star PR for letting us take part in Cecilia Tan’s tour. They handed the free copy out, we read it and decided to leave the varnish off our thoughts ’cause we have too much integrity to be bought like that. All opinions are Jett’s own and shouldn’t be confused with Susan’s ’cause Susan’s still down and out with an eye injury and isn’t reading much of anything right now. But don’t point that out. She’s kinda grumpy about it.

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I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve stumbled onto an epidemic of short stuff that may appeal to you, but around here, it’s low on the coveting list.

…..what will happen if she surprises him in his tour bus?

Young Rose is working at the festival where her favorite band is playing. After another angry customer and the manager that yells at her, she decides to quit her job as at the bar right away and instead go and join the concert of her favorite band. With the official accreditation she sneaks in the backstage, but after a while she realizes that she has once in the life time to opportunity to do something more with her idol and the the frontman of Primal’s Dave Bristol. She’s willing to take her chance and she sneaks in the tour bus, waiting the show to be over and Dave to come in her room. While waiting she starts imagining what kind of kinky things he could do to her…

Ummm… wow. Lots wrong here. First off, it’s 6k words and sounds like it’s … more plot-driven. How’s that?

But this description? It’s barely literate. “to do something more with her idol” — (something more than what?) — “the the frontman of Primal’s Dave Bristol” — is that the name of the band? Primal’s Dave Bristol? Because if it’s not, that makes no sense. Not to mention the repeat of the word “the” — didja catch that? I did, and on the first reading, too. Susan can fix this, and cheap, you know.

If you’ve read this one and have something to say, holler. If you want to read this one and have something to say, holler. But it’s got zero reviews at GoodReads and maybe there’s a reason for that…

Then again, there’s always the chance that the book is better than the description… And I’m really hoping that’s the case.

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Ever notice how even when you think something’s random, it shows up in clusters anyway? Here’s another stepbrother book. It’s part of a series, but it was hard to see on GoodReads the other books in the series, so I can’t tell you anything more than about this one.

“It’s amazing how life teaches us to love, let go and embrace loss, all in the name of growing up.”

I’m in a foreign country hoping to save my rock star step brother from flushing his career down the toilet.

Add in a female lead singer with the hots for him, disgruntled band mates and a manager sporting a pony tail, and you’ll see I’ve got my work cut-out for me.

Unfortunately, Alex the rock star has plans of his own and all of them seem to lead back to me.

Don’t worry, I’m fully over him, my will unbending to his affections. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

My Stepbrothers Rock is part of a series about forbidden love, innocent desires and the lust evoked by the rock star persona.

This is book 5 and my final book in the series. It contains mature content for the over 18 crowd. No cliffhanger.

There’s a lot going on here, but I noticed that it’s only 69 pages. Right there, I’m curious. Can a story this big, with all these obstacles to deal with — I’m not sure overcome is the right word, and Susan’s groaning at the potential puns — deal with it all in 69 pages? That’s awful short for female lead singers, disgruntled band mates, and a manager with a pony tail (I don’t get what’s wrong with that. I have a couple men friends from the day job with ponytails and they’re pretty hot. And they aren’t in manbuns).

I’m curious about the premise here. The narrator’s over the step bro, but he’s still got the hots for her. Can’t he take no for an answer, and why not?

Gotta read. Between the page count and the question of the romance, I’m curious. Also curious about the rest of the series. Anyone know anything?

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This one has real potential to make a girl feel slimy. It’s all in how it’s handled.

He makes her heart sing, but he’s completely off limits…
Cynthia has a passion for photography and a brand new art degree… but not many job prospects. Her stepbrother, Dean, is a sexy as hell musician in need of a photographer. It’s almost like fate has shoved them together to help fulfill each other’s needs.

There’s just one problem. Their needs go far beyond a few photographs.

Growing up together has made their relationship complicated, and their deep desires completely forbidden. Can they work together without giving in to temptation? Or have years of hidden feelings and a weekend alone finally brought them to a point of no return?

This taboo erotic romance contains adult themes and forbidden relationships. Adults only, please.

They grew up together… that’s a line I don’t really want to cross. Or maybe I just don’t want to. There are attractive people all over the place. Sounds to me like Cynthia needs to leave home and meet some people and go to a few bars and meet more people and have adventures and keep meeting people.

Yeah, I know… sex and drugs and rock and roll, and the idea of a step-brother or step-sister is about as taboo as it gets. On that hand, I oughta be all over this. It’s the ultimate rock star thing to do! What’s my problem?

Maybe I’m looking at my own stepbrother over there and thinking, “Eew.” I mean, the guy’s thirty and he still picks his nose and eats it. Doesn’t care who sees him do it, either. I keep telling myself at least he’s got an office job and isn’t in food services.

If you’re brave enough for this one, Susan and I will post the review. Hat’s off to you for being braver than I am.

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Let’s get right to it ’cause one look at the opening twelve words and those typos and even I’m cringing, and I don’t think it’s Susan’s fault. Err, influence.

When red-hot, Goth-metal band, Black Halo, split live on stage, fate throws Daniella Fosbrook into the path of sexy vocalist Xane Geist. Initially, Xane’s only looking for a ride home, but Dani tempts him in a way a thousand other women haven’t. Determined to explore their heady chemistry and avoid hashing things out with the band, Xane whisks Dani off to Monaco for a steamy weekend.

There, Dani tries her best to hang onto her heart and some clothing, while Xane soon loses both. However, Xane isn’t being entirely honest about the reason for the band’s demise. When the truth comes out, can Dani accept the facts, or will everything come undone.

A few months back, Ivan Moody had a huge blowup on stage over something or other and it looked like Five Finger Death Punch had broken up. My news feeds were full of this and the speculation, and then the rumors and the hopes and the innuendo and the statements and the backpedaling and then the … absolute silence about it. So bands do break up on stage — or not ’cause FFDP’s still out there, putting on shows.

So okay. The premise… it’s possible. Xane has a pissy fit and runs away. Ivan didn’t run away — maybe he’s more of a man? But then again, no one’s NOT calling Ivan Moody a man — but on the other hand, that’s gotta be a pretty traumatic thing. Why’s this Xane dude running away for a weekend of sex? Is he the type to avoid life? If so, it makes sense that he’d have this onstage, public breakup that you know people are getting fired over. ‘Cause if they are so red-hot, that means there’s a lot of money and jobs on the line here.

But this means we need to know the guy, or get to know the guy, and then this becomes less of a romance and more the story of a guy fighting his demons and frankly, while I’d read this in a heartbeat, if the book doesn’t focus on Xane and why his name’s got that ultra-hip X to start it and what his issues are, I think it loses what sets it apart, right there. This guy’s got potential to be a rocker of the ages, with this much angst.

The problem is that opening line in the description. Even I know that the first three commas are crap and have no business filling a page. But split live on stage? Hello, what? Are they supposed to break up when they are dead on stage? Animatronic on stage? The breakup comes via video? Then how do we know it’s real?

I hear Susan’s got room on her editing schedule, although she’s been pretty booked again lately (lots of people are smart. Be one of them.), so yeah. Don’t let twelve really bad words make people wonder if your book is any good. Because like I said, this one has a ton of potential and I want to know if I’m right to be intrigued by this Xane dude. (by the way? From this description, I could care less about the prude Dani, who doesn’t seem to do much other than be an excuse and try to keep her clothes on while she’s getting all steamy. Or was she planning to watch Xane get steamy with someone other than her? Voyeur! Why don’t we see more of that in Rock Fiction? That’s a very rock and roll thing to be.)

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I don’t know why we don’t see more of this trope. I mean, hello? Rock stars have sex. They have a LOT of sex. And rubbers break. They slip off (right? That’s not just me?). They … don’t actually get worn. I mean, hello? Rock stars. There’s nothing on the planet more invincible than they are.

Here’s our book description:

He’d rocked her world. She’s about to blow up his life.

When a beautiful former fling blasts back into his life, jaded rock star Darko Dunne’s peaceful seclusion on a private island comes to an explosive end. Faced with a band of ruthless criminals and a ticking clock, Darko and Muireann must pool their resources to rescue the baby he never knew he had.

So my first thought was that this seems kinda … loaded with stuff. Secret baby, ruthless criminals, ticking clocks. What’s all this got to do with each other? But then the next sentence makes it clear and yeah, I can buy this premise.

I just wish there was more to the description. And what’s with the total lack of negative reviews at GoodReads? Nothing there’s under 4 stars. Always makes you wonder… Oh, and don’t tell Susan I am looking at the reviews again, although by this point, she’s gotta know…

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Is it the first in a series, as the title indicates (Sultry Southern Nights #1), or a standalone? Is it a standalone novel but part of a series with a linked theme?

Seems to be the latter.

Romeo Marshall is over six feet of cool, smooth, hot, southern seductiveness–just like the music at his popular Raleigh club, The Playground Jazz and Blues Bar. With his beloved mother gone and no father he’s ever known, the business is Romeo’s everything. It’s a place where anything can happen–and the evening one gorgeous young woman and one intriguing old musician walk into the bar–and into Romeo’s life–it does.

There’s something about high-powered, down-to-the earth Taryn Williams that captures Romeo’s attention like no other woman has. Yet unanswered questions from his past seem to hold him back from real commitment. For Romeo to move forward in love, he’ll have to learn some devastating truths–and James “Piano Man” Burdett is there to teach him. And with Taryn’s help, Romeo just may accept that like music, life sometimes needs to be improvised. . .

Okay, let’s start with what I love. Jazz. A jazz bar that the hero owns. I love that the people on the cover aren’t the usual hot, shirtless white folk who are there to make you drool. I like that there aren’t any of the usual Rock Fiction graphics. You know the ones I mean.

But my question is who is the love interest, or is this a trio? There’s Taryn, yet James “Piano Man” Burdett sounds awfully important here, too.

Inquiring minds… and mine is definitely inquiring on this one.

(Oh, wait. Don’t tell Susan, but I read the reviews… I am so far off-base, I need new friends. No threesome here, and I bet the author’s laughing her head off at me. Which, in this case, I deserve. Except… when you have a man who has to help another man move forward in love, was I THAT far off-base? That’s a pretty darn vague comment!)

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This one’s a toughie because there’s no book description. Seriously. Nothing. Just one review at GoodReads that makes it sound like it’s got no plot: couple meets. Couple has wild sex. End of story.

Conflict? Plot? Characterization?

Still, if it showed up in an inbox near me, I’d check it out. Just… to see what the heck it is.

(and read the author’s name out loud after reading that one review. Hunh.)

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I was hoping this one would live up to its title and be something different, and maybe it is. It’s sure got a tough description.

Singer/songwriter Anna James is getting desperate. Even with a day job, money’s tight, and she’s wound tighter yet, having sworn off sex to reconcile with her mother who’s in chemo and her father who disowned her for her wild, wicked ways. No sooner than her psychic best friend predicts an end to Anna’s self-imposed drought, rock stars Jackson and Jacob Thomason come to town, with the dream of an indie album co-written with local American Indian flutist Nico White and his songwriting partner AJ McPherson.

Jackson and Jacob are attracted to Anna, who gives as good as she gets. Learning that Anna’s alter ego AJ puts the “twist” in Nico’s “tribal” music only makes them want her more. The part-Comanche Thomason twins need an album’s worth of songs. That means spending night after night, working closely, getting to know each other, learning how to co-create.

Anna’s never written music with anyone but Nico. They’re comfortable with each other. The Thomason twins, who perform as No Mercy, make her anything but. What’s a fangirl to do, when submitting to her rock star idols means exploring the darker side of passion?

What does swearing off sex have to do with fixing a relationship with your mother? I don’t get how the two things connect.

So Anna gives as good as she gets… what does that mean? Is it totally sexual, since the sentence starts out talking about their sexual attraction?

Does Anna’s submission to a set of twins mean it’s all over between her and her mother?

Yeah, this is problematic. But stuff I like and hope gets more time on the page: Anna’s successful enough that people seek her and her partner out. Why isn’t there more money? Is she in a position of power to ask for more, once she realizes the value the twins put on her musically? I like that Anna’s being pushed to explore what she can and can’t do, in terms of writing music and her career.

But still… why can’t people ever keep it professional?

This is the second in a series. The first and third seem to have nothing to do with Rock Fiction, but they both have PTSD issues, which could be interesting. And all three are books about women and two men. Fun if that’s your thing.

I see a lot of potential, once the issues with Anna and her mom get cleared up. I’d totally read this.