Archive for April, 2016

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Return of the Bad Boy

Turns out, Return of the Bad Boy is the fourth book in its series, although it’s the first one that stars rocker Asher Knight and agent of some sort, Gloria Shields. Since the characters had only been minor characters in the previous books, I’d thought I could jump into this one and know what’s going on.

Nope.

This was a hard book to get into at first. It opens with what ought to be a hot sex scene between our leads, Gloria and Asher, but right off the bat, because they’re total strangers, it’s not that hot. And it’s kinda confusing, as there are all these references to a robust past between them and this assumption that we know it and are up on it. But since I’m dropping into the series cold, it took forever to settle in. And not just with Asher and Gloria, but with the characters who’ve already had their own series, as well. Just… no backstory.

By the time the story ended, I still wasn’t sure what sort of agent Gloria really was, or what she really did for a living; I asked Susan, and she said Gloriad didn’t seem to act like the literary agents who blog about their lives and how they work.

But if you put all that aside –and it took about a third of the book, if not a little more, before I could – this is an interesting story. It’s more Asher’s than Gloria’s, but only sort of.

Neither character seems to change that much, as Asher has already bought the house and settled into a life with shared custody. His upheaval is over. There’s not a lot of conflict for him.
Just Gloria and how much he wants her.

She’s got more conflict in her life, needing to get over her trust issues so she can love Asher, but those issues seem almost downplayed next to a subplot about some sleaze who wants her to come work with him. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure what he does, other than being an agent, too, but they don’t seem to compete and there’s talk that they’d compliment each other, but I’m not sure how. Again, it’s not real clear. And it’s also not clear what he brings to her that would tempt her, other than the chance to run away and go back to where she came from, but hello? Wasn’t she running away when she left Chicago? I sort of got the impression she was. And if so, that’s not a lot of incentive to leave this place she’s just arrived in.

So most of the conflict really winds up settling around the mom of Asher’s kid, a young girl who’s really not prepared for motherhood. It’s a bad scene, and one that’s really kind of sad.

Of course, the attraction to us here at The Rock of Pages is the rocker, Asher. He’s… kind of tame as far as fictional rockers go. In some ways, he falls under the category of guys who could be anyone, he’s so normal. But there are times, details that set him apart, and it’s those details—his clothes, his hair, his bracelets and rings—that remind us who he is. Yes, he’s got a guitar and the band comes over and they have songwriting sessions in an idyllic setting. But more than anything, he’s a regular sort of guy. Almost interchangeable with any other strong male lead. But not quite. He’s got an edge, an electric vibe to him that defines him as a rocker. It’s a nice thing to see, particularly in Rock Fiction.

I guess what I’m looking for from him and Gloria both is more internal angst. He doesn’t really struggle with any resentments about this new life. He just goes about his business, organizing things the way he wants them organized and, in total rock star fashion, without taking no for an answer.

That lack of angst makes me think this is more of an easy, breezy book. One of those beach reads where nothing really goes wrong and life finds a way of working itself out and yeah, happily ever after really can happen.

But I don’t know. I want my fiction a little less lovely and a bit more harrowing when faced with hard choices. I want some pain, some tough choices, some internal struggle along with the easy-breezy beach read vibe. You may not, and if not, you’re going to find this one’s a keeper.

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26031222-return-of-the-bad-boy

Buy links:
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1U8X6X4
B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/1WhEq7y
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1T3RSa3
iBooks: http://apple.co/1YLr3M0
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1XNbMKx

Connect with Jessica:
Website: http://www.jessicalemmon.com/
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1SoTFqy
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lemmony
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lemmony/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJessicaLemmon
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/jlemmony
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2152knF

As always, thanks to the folk at Rock Star PR for providing a review copy and letting us here at The Rock of Pages join this book tour. Be sure to check out other reviews and opinions, and to leave your own, too! You can do it in the comments here, you can send Susan a full review for her to post, or you can post it somewhere else. Remember that next to buying a book, talking up a book you like is a great way to support an author.

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A book about a band manager? That, friends, is my particular niche catnip. Let’s take a peek:

You Really Got Me

The first irresistible novel in a hot new series about a rock star on his way up—and the woman he wants to take all the way…

Emmie Valencia has what it takes to be the music industry’s hottest band manager. She just needs to prove it. Determined to discover a killer new band, Emmie is ready to make her move. First stop: Austin, Texas.

As a sizzling-hot lead singer, Slater Vaughn has no trouble raising heart rates—but his band’s been flat-lining for years. When Emmie, his bandmate’s sister, crashes with them in exchange for some free management, her industry know-how lands them a spot in the biggest music festival in Texas. But it isn’t just her business acumen that catches Slater’s attention. Emmie is sexy and warm, and—for the first time in his life—he wants more.

But as irresistible as Slater is, Emmie is done with musicians. In her experience, a man can’t be a rock star and someone to trust with your heart—but Slater is determined to show her he’s both.

Okay, I have a WIP about a badass tour manager and a rock star, plus one of my best friends lives in Austin, so I’m connecting to this book all over the place. There’s just something about a take-charge woman and a musician that makes a great pairing. However, the “doesn’t date musicians” conflict isn’t a particularly strong one, and the man whore lead singer, while realistic, needs to have a fresh twist (or three) in order to reel me in. After the description, I was undecided, but because I’d love to read about a band manager, I grabbed the free sample and YES!
Even in the first few pages, the good writing and great music details jumped out at me. I grabbed this one, and I’ll let you guys know as soon as the jury returns a verdict.

Note from Susan: How long before Michelle is as big a fangirl as I am? Anyone want to take bets? Sheesh. Erika, come hang with us! Write us guest blog posts! Interact with your loyal fans!

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I’ve coveted Kylie Scott’s books before but haven’t yet read any of them (ahem. Maybe I oughta check the library. Wait. I’ve got a pile of stuff here. Nevermind).

Here’s the latest in her world:

As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it’s booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.

Lena’s not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.

This one’s gonna come down to if the writing’s as good as I’ve heard it is, because we’ve seen all this before. Diva singer. PR problem. Rehab. And then the employee who rescues him but winds up in his bed.

I get it. There are only so many plots. But do we have to throw this many of the same elements into one book?

Still. Maybe the author redeems it all. She’s sure got a lot of reviews over at GoodReads and no, I didn’t read them.

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So…. while Susan was out healing from her eye injury… well, hell. It’s an EYE she hurt, right? She said she was back at work and probably was, and probably was kicking ass like usual (Hey, Rock Fiction authors? Here’s an editor for you! Tell your friends!), but she said that she wanted to save her screen time for when she was working.

I feel kinda guilty ’cause her income’s gone down the toilet with the injury. I told her not to blog about it, but did she listen?

Well, I can’t brag and feel too superior.

Susan got e-mail from author Crystal Firsdon. Seems a certain someone wrote up a Coveting post and was all full of herself because the Big Boss wasn’t watching over her shoulder and …

Maybe Susan’s right to keep looking over my shoulder.

The book I talked about here? ALMOST WRECKED. That’s the title. ALMOST WRECKED.

(Note from Susan, who’s looking over Jett’s shoulder again: I changed the title in the post.)

Now, Crystal’s a class act, so we’ll keep her here at The Rock of Pages and not exile her to some desert island with an accordion player who only knows one polka. Not only did she nicely point out my mistake. Not only did she tell us that the second book in the series, ALMOST ORDINARY, is out. Not only did she consider writing a guest blog post for us here on these pages (saving you from reading yet more of my mistakes), she sent review copies.

Crystal, you are my new hero. If I promise to never screw up again, can we be besties?

Pick up a copy of ALMOST WRECKED. And then send us your reviews. And then get ALMOST ORDINARY and do it again.

Support the class acts.

Oh, and Crystal? Sorry about that… but not really. Because, you know, you and Susan got to meet. And review copies. And maybe guest blogging. And more exposure for you.

Not that this is going to be my new schtick. Can I blame it on being freaked out by the pictures of Susan’s eye that she kept sending me?

 

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I’m not the huge classical music fan that Jett is, but I’m a sucker for a historical novel. She probably knows more about Vivaldi and his music than I do, even though I’ve taken to listening to it on Spotify, thanks to this book.

This book is The Violinist of Venice, written by debut author Alyssa Palombo, and it’s the story of the fictional Adriana d’Amato, who shows up on Vivaldi’s doorstep with a need to play the violin. And a sack full of gold.

Vivaldi’s struck first by the gold and second by this woman’s talent. They make beautiful music together, and that’s not a euphemism, although that happens, too. I mean, we all know they’re going to wind up in bed together. That’s not a surprise.

The surprise is in Palombo’s writing, which brings not just the music to life, but the joy and the drive and the need to make it—and the pain when it’s denied.

This author is a maestro similar to Vivaldi himself, as she shows in the character of Senator Baldovino. Initially a creep, he turns out to be a bigger gift to Adriana than much of what Vivaldi himself gives our heroine. And Vivaldi gives Adriana much, unlocking things inside of her that she never would have dreamed possible without him. In turn, she inspires him to write greater and greater pieces of music. And yet, as a couple, they simply cannot be.

Still, there are happy endings, if bittersweet ones, for Adriana. And maybe here, things fall a bit short, as maybe Adriana’s life falls together a bit too neatly in the end. But as a reader, we’re willing to go along with it. After all, we have spent years with Adriana by the time the book ends. We’ve grown to love her. How can we not root for her?

Maybe people who know more about Vivaldi’s music will find fault with some of this book. Maybe people more versed in the Venice of the times will have accuracy issues. I don’t know. I don’t really care. Venice was a character in this book as much as Adriana and Vivaldi and everyone else, and Palombo brings it to life in the same masterful strokes that she uses for everything else.

This is one author to watch. And one book that all Rock Fiction lovers shouldn’t miss. Because Vivaldi may be a priest and not the sexy rocker who usually graces this site, but the music is maybe more alive here than in much of the more contemporary stuff that crosses our radars. And in the end, it’s about the music, not always the men and women who make it.

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Hey, isn’t it Taylor Swift who’s known for writing songs all about her ex-boyfriends? Think this is inspired by her?

Jane Black has written the breakup album of the century, earning her a Grammy, a huge legion of new fans, and the pressure to repeat her success. Sure, the heartbreak from her husband’s unconventional abandonment might have been her inspiration, but it hasn’t done her any favors in the dating department. So when Matthew Harrigan, the toughest music journalist out there, asks for an interview, Jane agrees—as long as her personal life is completely off-limits.

British, gorgeous, and way too tempting, Matthew’s the first guy Jane’s been attracted to since her husband. As she spends more time with him and their relationship heats up, though, so does her writer’s block. How can the queen of the break up pen the perfect follow-up when she’s seriously in love?

Nothing to say. I’m in. Send me a copy like, ten minutes ago.

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Try this one on for size.

Lex has never felt more exposed. She has just allowed Jake Reed, the lead singer of rock band Inkjet, to undress her and tie her to a chair backstage after a show, only to have him leave to go sign autographs.

It is the start of a dark, obsessive relationship that will lead Lex, a 20-something public relations professional from L.A., to lose herself almost entirely as she struggles to break through her sexual boundaries without falling in love with Jake, an intimidatingly gorgeous Hollywood actor/rock star who closely guards his emotions.

What starts as a series of casual hookups ends up a powerful addiction that will push Lex past all her sexual boundaries as Jake moves repeatedly in and out of her life, making few promises along the way. Lex fights to keep a sense of herself while she succumbs to Jake’s glamorous world and his irresistible allure.

Wow. Dark. Scary. Probably gonna be a trigger book for people with issues. I’m not so sure I’m comfortable with it, myself; it sounds too much like Jake’s into this more for the ability to control and be mean to Lex than he is because he likes her. I mean, I’m reading this and thinking he’s a total douche for how he acts.

It might be too close to abuse. I don’t know.

Anyone?

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I didn’t expect to love this book nearly as much as I did. I mean, it sounded good from its description and I come into every book expecting to love it, but to go this bonkers? Nope.

This is a Rock Fiction romance, and I know that I’ve been complaining about how many Rock Fiction romances there are anymore. But this one’s different. For one, it’s a “we’ve been in love forever but never admitted it to each other” trope. For another, Nolan runs away and changes his name after a tragedy. That generally makes it hard for a guy to admit his love to the best friend (who happens to be a girl) across the street. Oh, you can argue that because Hailey is one of the few people who knows the story of Nolan’s past, that makes it easier for him. But nope. He took off, high-tailed it out of town, and didn’t look back. Except for this one picture, this one tie. And the phone number of his other best friend, who is the person who sends the summons to Nolan that it’s time to come home.

So while we’ve got the romance thing happening, we also have the side story of Nolan needing to face his past. Because if anything will make a scared man face his past, it’s love.

That might have come out way more cynical than I meant it to be. It’s just that this is a pretty darn good way to spur someone into action. Threaten their loved one. How many books have been written based around this very plot? Thousands.

Again, more cynical than I want to be. It works. Hailey’s in trouble. Nolan comes running. It helps that his band is at a pivotal second in which he can run, sort of, mostly. But his band, for once, isn’t full of pricks, and they find a way to make it work. Nice twist on the usual Rock Fiction rules, there.

So Nolan rushes to Hailey’s side, and the two of them both have to deal with the amnesia issues they have. Too coincidental? Maybe, but I like how Hailey can’t remember but wants to while Nolan can remember but is terrified to. It sets up a good contrast to each other.

We’re not done with the plot, either. Nolan, in his alter ego as rock star Tyler, is supposedly dating this actress who just happens to be pursuing a music career. This is important because this is where the book gets back into Celebrity Fiction and the paparazzi, much like Lauren Weisberger’s Last Night at Chateau Marmont did. Only differently.

You know, now that I think about it, maybe there’s too much going on here. But it’s a fun read, and the story of Nolan’s history is pretty darn fascinating. His memories unfold in a way that allows the reader to see the pain in the situation but neither we nor Nolan are overwhelmed by them.

At the end, things are resolved too easily. The press conference scene? I’d be surprised if others don’t call author Lindenblatt out for it. It’s stupid. It’s cringe-worthy. What is it lately with normal people doing press conferences? Didn’t BJ Knapp do it, too?

Even the mysteries that unfold in the story—remember, both lead characters can’t remember violent scenes, which pushes this romance near the idea of being a mystery or thriller of some sort—come together too easily and are a bit too pat. But we’re not reading this book for its plot. We’re reading it for the romance and the way these two overcome the obstacles—mostly Nolan’s memories—in front of them, and that’s ultimately why I loved this so much.

There’s a sweetness between Nolan and Hailey. You can’t help but pull for them. And because the Rock Fiction here is handled really well: there’s no clichéd scene where he writes music or lyrics on her body, and while Nolan’s music is written with Hailey in mind, he’s more matter-of-fact about it while Hailey is hopeful that she’s the object. And right there’s that sweetness again.
More than in a lot of Rock Fiction, Nolan’s career is handled as a job. Add in the other twists to the usual stuff we see in Rock Fiction and this right here is a winner.

So, yeah. There are some logic gaps you may need to overlook, but Nolan’s story carries the day, and these two are sweet. It’s good. It works. And it makes for a fun read.

Thanks to NetGalley for approving us for a review copy!

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If you go by the title alone, this one sounds like those really bad romances people make fun of. Nothing like what I actually read and usually like. But then take a look at the description:

Talos Kalliakis, the youngest Prince of Agon, has found the perfect gift for King Astraeus’s jubilee gala—the talents of exquisite violinist Amalie Cartwright. The warrior prince crossed Europe to find his perfect candidate, and he won’t take no for an answer!

But rumor has it that Amalie won’t perform, and now Talos has her hidden away in his villa, where sources suggest he’s claimed the most private of performances. With tensions running high, surely it can’t be long before they start changing their tune…to the royal wedding march!

So music plays a huge part in this book! (although if you look at the cover… ugh.)

But … Talos goes and finds this woman to be given as a gift. And that’s just kinda noxious. And while music is what brings them together, does it really play a role at all? Because, let’s face it: the most private of performances probably doesn’t mean she gets up on stage with her fiddle and an audience of one. Nope. Not in this one.

I’m curious. Anyone know anything?

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Better than a series! It’s the series in one volume!

Rock Country (book 1)
Time nor distance can keep Bobby and June’s love apart.

Rock Heart (book 2)
Together Chaz and Ryan’s love can move mountains.

Rock Bottom (book 3)
Love is found for Donnie and Nora even after hitting rock bottom.

Follow Bobby, Chaz, Donnie and the gang from The Vegas Aces as they all search for their happily ever afters! This is the complete three book series.

Unfortunately, other than the titles of all three books, this doesn’t tell me enough. Those one-liners are vague, vague, vague. And I didn’t look real hard, but it wasn’t easy to find each book by itself, either.

Pity. I’m curious to at least hear who these people are, what their story is, what they bring to each other…

Anyone got any info on this one? Susan’s always glad to repost a review that’s run elsewhere. (or a new one, she says. Bring it!)