Archive for July, 2016

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This one isn’t going to be published until September and it’s only July, but hey, that’s why these posts are all about books we WANT to read, not the books we already did. (Those go on Saturdays ’cause we can only read so fast.)

This one is the third in a series, which makes me think it’s the Rock Fiction Series Entry. Check it:

As the daughter of a music legend, Grace Davingham knows all too well what it’s like to be burned by the media’s glare. Now all she wants is to be left to do her painting and conservation work in peace, with no intention of returning to the spotlight. But after she sprains her ankle hiking and a handsome real-estate mogul comes to her rescue, Grace once again finds herself in the public eye.

Sexy, successful, and averse to any attachments, Marcus Colby thrives on rigid discipline in order to manage both his real-estate investment company and his personal life. Marc has no time for fun, and no patience for crazy. Which is why meeting Grace—and inheriting an enormous Great Dane who won’t listen to a word he says—has turned Marc’s carefully constructed world upside down.

Only when Grace and Marc square off over a local controversy do they realize how different they really are. But if opposites attract, their love is destined to bind them together—forever.

I love kids of star stories, even if they all too often wind up being Not Rock Fiction. And this one has potential to be Not Rock Fiction. But… it also sounds like fun. Great Danes? That’s a fun twist.

Bring this one, even if it winds up being Not Rock Fiction. Maybe it will surprise me on that front. (but given our track record lately… well, Susan says that she learned from her cats that hope springs eternal.)

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Rafe Rider is the lead singer of Destiny Fades to Blue, the “it boys” of rock. He is living the dream… traveling the country with his band, sharing his bed with the occasional groupie, and just living large… while their singles climb the charts.

Daisy Anderson is the lead singer of Sweet Southern Sass, the sweethearts and most famous female group of the last decade in country. Their sold out tour has ended and they are enjoying the down time while they prepare their next hit album.

Signed under the same label, a cross-over tour between the sweethearts of country and the bad boys of rock is just the thing to gather fans from both genres.
As the tour rolls out and the bands are thrust together… passion and tempers ignite as the “good” girl and the “bad” boy realize they aren’t quite as different as they imagined.

Can two people from different worlds find love on the road with the person they least expect? When the sweethearts of country meet the bad boys of rock… more than the charts heat up.

So much good stuff here… two singers. Whew, what will happen when THOSE egos collide? Oh, that’ll be fun to watch.

Yeah, okay, we’ve got some cliches. The easy time getting singles up the charts. The idea of a rock/country crossover tour. (do those really happen? I can’t think of any, but if you can, share what you know in the comments.) And, of course, the easy characterization: good girl, bad boy.

Still. Bring this ON.

Note from Susan: Is that REALLY a Donny and Marie reference in the series title? “A Lil Bit Country & A Lil Bit Rock & Roll”? REALLY?)

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This book is chick lit with a big sense of humor and 1989 hairsprayed bangs.

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I spotted Start with the Backbeat by Garine Isassi on a Coveting post on this blog, and was intrigued by the setting—1989, a girl attempting to discover Gangsta rap bands—and the fact that it billed itself as “A Musical Novel” not a romance. I love a rock star romance, but I’ve seen the gritty gangster beginnings of the rap industry in Straight Outta Compton, and I thought this had potential to be a nuanced discussion of a cool epoch in musical history, which it turned out it kinda was.

It was also chick lit, which I didn’t expect. The genre’s a bit out of vogue these days, so that’s probably why it isn’t labeled as such, but it has all the hallmarks: the romance is a subplot rather than a main plot to make room for more challenges with the MC’s career and friends and family. There are lots of disasters, lots of comedy, and a would-be young professional girl sort of thrashing her way to where she wants to be. I loved all these features of chick lit, and it occurs to me in a lot of ways, it was the precursor of New Adult.

I came for the 80s setting and I wasn’t disappointed. Cassette tapes, a music industry in an entirely different time. Plus, it was just painful to watch Jill and her other white middle-class co-workers tiptoe into some rough NYC neighborhoods, looking for “gangstas” to sign, while trying not to get mugged and trying to judge what might be “authentic.” The class and racial lines here are shows with a wince-worthy comedy of errors rather than a preachy tone, which makes for the kind of read that makes you cringe and nod as you recognize real life.

The supporting characters are fun, from the sprawling Armenian family to the sleazy company vice president, and all the very different officemates who end up very loyal to each other. I will say LaKeisha seemed a touch stereotypical to me, but other than that, I enjoyed the variety of personalities all whirled together.

The romance was fun too—Jill ends up going after a computer geek named Alejandro, whose name no one ever gets right, and whom she wasn’t attracted to at all at first (I blame the khaki office pants. I mean, whose ass DOESN’T look saggy in those things?). Seems like everybody starts romances these days with OOH-he’s-so-hot and I have a great time when it starts a little rougher. Alejandro was truly a gentleman, and it showed despite their many missteps.

Where this book really shines (other than the 1980s details and band references, which I LOVED) is in all the moments where you can’t help but recognize real life. The suburban mom crying off her eyeliner because she wants her husband to help more around the house, but he doesn’t do the dishes quite right, so she can’t let him do that, and she can’t leave for the night because of course he couldn’t take care of their baby the way she can and…yeah. So familiar. And Jill’s boyfriend at the beginning of the book, the sound guy that can get them in the backdoor of every club, but who disappears when he’s on the road with a band, even though he SWEARS he’s being faithful.

This has a fun, romantic comedy feel with an 80s twist and a gangsta rap punchline, with amazing lyrics and characters throughout. Four stars.

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The first line here catches me SO HARD.

After getting kicked out of her own band—by her own boyfriend—Presley Mason finds herself back in Wisconsin, helping her parents run their renowned music store. Instead of belting out powerhouse vocals to sold-out crowds in L.A., she’s stocking shelves and inspecting rental violins. But the shop isn’t all bad: When she’s vacuuming up late one night, she bumps into the guitar teacher with the smoldering amber eyes and the killer tattoo. And that’s when things take an interesting turn.

Presley soon finds that Paul Kellerman is as good in bed as he is on guitar. So why isn’t he stoked to share his band, Jukebox Bleu, with her? Turns out Paul has crippling stage fright, which he’s been self-medicating without much success. But when Jukebox Bleu’s lead singer gets called for military service, the other members beg Presley to front them. Even though she swore never to mix men with music again, the temptation to perform is almost as intense as her chemistry with Paul. Now Presley must decide what’s more important: a second chance at love . . . or rock stardom.

We’ve seen the shy frontman trope before. Not often; Burke’s book is the only other one Susan and I can remember. And here, it doesn’t sound like Presley is going to try to cure her lover so much as step in and railroad him. A method I particularly approve of ’cause it’s real.

And there’s other fresh stuff here: getting fired by your boyfriend. Parents who are vested in music but aren’t (so far as I can tell) former rock stars. A lead singer who gets called to military service.

Yes. I like. Bring this one, and bring it QUICK.

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First in a series alert!

Man, can you keep up with all these series? Heck, I can’t keep up with all the books. Forget about the series!

Anyway, let’s see what today’s is all about:

A partnership with the hottest new rock band, Toxsin, is a major opportunity for Kate’s small custom leather shop, but she’s determined to resist her burning attraction to the lead guitarist, Syon Braden. Sex is a commodity in his world, and that’s just not enough for her. Or so she thought.

With the multiplatinum success of his band, Syon thought he had everything he’d ever wanted…and then he met Kate. He knows that sleeping with her could distract him from his music and even interfere with his close bandmate friendships, but despite all this, Syon just can’t seem to keep his mind—or hands—off of her…

Well. A leathermaker. That’s… kinky. Unique.

I’d like to meet a leathermaker.

Wait. Susan says she knows one. Susan is my new hero.

I wish that was the only new element in this one, though. But it doesn’t seem to be. The rest? Seems familiar. But… it’s the first in a series, so maybe there’s more to it than meets this description. I sure hope so.

And does the hero’s name make anyone else think of a Train lyric?

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Guess I’m 0 for 2 with this weekend’s set of blog tour reviews. Both books said they featured music-focused characters. Both wound up being characters who could have had any other job.

What a letdown.

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In Hiatus, we’ve got a story of a committed threesome. Cam and Theo are married. Rocker Nate is their pampered puppy—really, he seems like little more than that. He’s not an equal in this relationship and when Cam and Theo start to fall apart, they squeeze him out of… well, everything but their beds. This is problematic because the way the description’s written, you expect Nate to do whatever it takes to keep his lovers together. But he doesn’t. He’s not the catalyst for what happens to bring us to our HEA. Not even close!

So no Rock Fiction here. Nate could be any other guy with a job that takes him on the road.

And a story without enough at stake or enough reasons to care about Cam and Theo.

If you want to give it a try, go for it. Here are the buy links:

Available From


If you pick it up and read it, send a review on! Susan says she’s glad to post up to three reviews of a single book, so hold her to that!

Thanks to Rock Star PR for letting us be part of the tour. Wish Susan had better luck picking books for me!

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This isn’t the sort of book I’d have picked up, except Susan said there was a record producer character, and that means the possibility of Rock Fiction. So… here I am. Reading Susan Mallery, who is a best-selling romance author. And… I’m not sure why.

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Let’s start with Quinn, the record producer, since he’s the reason we picked this up. Like a lot of so-called music people, he could be anyone. He has a charisma, sure, but he’s sickly perfect. There are no rough edges to this guy, nothing that suggests he knows how to handle the egos who cross his path—even when a few do cross his path in the pages. He’s more like a shrink, able to read people and understand who they are and what they need. But as for him, his wants, his desires, his needs? We know very little except he’s got an insta-crush on Courtney, one of the three daughters of the bride.

So there’s a major disappointment, right off the bat. This ain’t Rock Fiction, despite the guy’s career. And, of course, there’s this magic timeline where Quinn comes to town, finds a property, buys it, outfits it, and has it up and running in the span of the days and weeks leading up to the wedding that’s in the title. Somehow, I don’t think it’s that easy.

Now, I read more than Rock Fiction, believe it or not. And I like a lot of books. But this one? Didn’t do it for me in the least. The first third was full of the story screeching to a stop so the author could inform us of stuff. Backstory, Susan calls it. Boring, I call it. And this isn’t the first big-name author I’ve seen doing this, either. I want to yell at these people to stop it. It’s boring as anything.

There are three sisters in this story, and for too long, it’s hard to keep them straight and tell them apart. But then the cliches begin. Sienna, who has a string of broken engagements, finds herself engaged to a buffoon who she has no feelings for. Good thing, too, because he’s teetering on abusive, making all sorts of assumptions about how she’s going to live once they are married, telling her she has cold feet and not real concerns about their relationship, and devaluing her work. Oh, and he picks a horribly inappropriate time and place for the proposal, effectively trapping her into saying yes so she doesn’t rain on her mother’s engagement party or have to turn him down in a public forum. Manipulative much? Like I said: bordering on abusive.

So is Rachel’s ex-husband, who decides he’s going to win her back by showing up unannounced, doing things without her asking him to, and then telling her exactly what’s wrong with her and how she contributed to their divorce. If he talks about the affair he had – other than protesting that it only happened once! – it’s certainly not to work through the issues they had that tore them apart in the first place. Nope, it’s all on Rachel to change. Rachel, who so easily starts walking and gets her great shape back, which she let go in the aftermath of the divorce. Like it’s that easy? I had the easiest divorce in the world. We both agreed we’d been wrong to get married. We had nothing to split apart, just a bed and a TV, really, and I still put on twenty pounds that it took forever to get off. It’s just not that easy.

I guess this is why I like to stick to Rock Fiction. That’s not to say that these other issues wouldn’t have bothered me if Quinn had lived up to his rocker promise. But it’s to say that I see a lot of Rock Fiction authors working really hard at what they do and this one, with its long explanations in the beginning and the bland characters and problematic men and easy solutions just seemed kinda phoned in.

Still, Susan says I’m one of almost 60 reviewers on this tour, and I bet I’m the minority. That’s fine. Someone’s gotta be.

If I haven’t totally turned you off, here are the buy links — and if you read it and disagree with me, send Susan your review! She keeps saying she’d be glad to post reviews that show another opinion, so make her put up or shut up.

Amazon
BN
iBooks
Kobo

Thanks to Rock Star PR for this one. I’d really wanted to like it. I really had.

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I gotta give Susan props. When she sent over word that Cecilia Tan was going to be releasing the second book in her Secrets of a Rock Star series, she also included the note that she had the NetGalley widget for it.

So maybe it’s not right that I’m coveting this book. Because, you know, I’ve got a review copy pending.

But on the other hand, YOU should be coveting this book. Go and preorder it now if you can, from your favorite retailer (and remember: shop independent when you can, and there are other stores besides the Big A to buy books from). And then, on August 2, it’ll be in your hot hands and you can read it, too.

What’s it about? Oh, who CARES? This is Cecilia Tan, it’s the second in a series after a book I adored, and it’s Cecilia Tan!

But if you need to know, here’s the description:

Gwen Hamilton is always looking for a thrill. Not even running a secret BDSM club can fulfill her true desires. It’s only when she’s backstage at a rock concert and attracts the eye—and experienced hands—of guitarist Mal Kennealy that she finds that perfect combination of danger and excitement she’s been craving. Calling herself “Excrucia,” she revels in his uncompromising dominance each night. And yet by day, he knows her only as Gwen, his new escort for public appearances.

Excrucia blows Mal’s mind with her enthusiastic submission to his harshest commands. Even though he has a reputation for never seeing the same woman twice, he can’t help being tempted by the woman willing to fulfill his every fantasy. And when Mal discovers that Gwen—the sweet arm candy designed to soften his surly public image—is really Excrucia, he never wants to let her go. Finally he can indulge his absolute power. But dancing too recklessly on the razor’s edge could cut deeper than he bargained for . . .

Seriously. Preorder it. And watch this space for my review. Whee! Can’t wait!

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This one won’t be out until November, but I found it and I’m gonna write about it. So get ready to hit preorder buttons or whatever, especially those of you who’re wishing for something more than romance, romance, romance.

This is a mystery.

The bad news is that it’s one in an ongoing series and I have no idea if it can stand alone or not. Only one way to find out!

It’s called Rhythm and Clues, and it’s part of the Odelia Grey series. Here’s the description:

It’s a rockin’ flashback for Odelia Grey when her mother asks her to look into the disappearance of a neighbor, the former lead singer for a band Odelia idolized in her youth. But when a body is found in Bo Shank’s house by another member of Odelia’s family, everything quickly gets thrown out of tune.

You gotta wonder how much Rock Fiction this will be, since there’s a family connection to the dead body, and the dead person doesn’t seem to be the former lead singer, but… only one way to find out! Could this be a good way to enter a new-to-us, non-Rock Fiction series? Believe it or not, that’s allowed. We just won’t talk about it here.

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Middle of a non-Rock Fiction series alert!

Yep, this is one in a series about a small town, and this is the Rock Fiction component to the series. (Ever notice how many series have one Rock Fiction entry? I have!)

Here’s the description:

It’s finally Heather Finley’s moment. After spending years looking after her mother in the tiny town of Heartache, Tennessee, Heather’s about to follow her dream of singing country music. She can nearly hear the audiences hollering…until the town’s handsome mayor, Zach Chance, comes to her with troubling questions about her late father’s past. Once again, Heather has to choose: protect her family or chase her heart’s desire? Zach is determined to help, and to convince Heather that she belongs in Heartache–with him. But is he just another distraction? Or could he be the one to show Heather how a small-town love can make her big-time dreams come true?

So… I feel like we’ve seen this one before but the trope doesn’t have a name yet. Maybe it’s not really a trope yet. “I must choose between X and my music.”

And it’s usually a choice between love and music. Which, when I think about the people I know, makes sense. Music is a passion that can swallow people as hard as love, if not harder. Sometimes, you gotta choose. And sometimes, you don’t.

Anyway, like with all the usual tropes, what matters here is how the author pulls it off. And the only way to find out is to read it!