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.
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.
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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.