Archive for January, 2017

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You know, I can’t decide how I feel about books that wind up being the token Rock Fiction entry into a series. On the one hand, it’s a great way to expose non-Rock Fiction readers to our amazing category. But on the other, they have a greater chance of not breathing music the way the best Rock Fiction does. So are these books really showing the magic and pull of Rock Fiction?

Today’s Coveting entry is Anne Calhoun’s Going Deep. Check the description:

After weeks on a sold-out tour, singer Cady Ward is coming home for the holidays. But after one too many episodes of fan-craziness, Cady’s manager decides that she needs protection—in the form of muscled cop Conn McCormick. Longing for peace and quiet to prepare before her next album drops, Cady doesn’t need a bodyguard just to deal with some vague email threats…though she can’t deny that close proximity to Conn’s body is a very nice place to be.

Conn is in the midst of a career scandal when his boss assigns him to pop-star guard duty. It’s a poor use of his skills, even though Cady’s feisty nature proves the perfect distraction for Conn while Internal Affairs investigates his case. What begins as a sizzling attraction becomes something deeper than either Conn or Cady could have expected. But when Conn uncovers the sinister plan behind the threats to Cady, he’s faced with a professional dilemma: To save her life, will he risk having a future with the only woman who’s ever touched his soul?

Ahh, the bodyguard trope. You guys know that I think it’s hard to touch this one, given how well Lorelei James did it a few years back.

But this book might be coming at it from a different angle. After all, Cady isn’t on the road (or so the back cover says), so that takes that element out of the picture. And the series is about the Black Ops dudes, so that suggests this is more the hero’s story than the heroine’s. Which is also cool. I mean, I love men. Why wouldn’t I love reading about them?

As always, it’s all about the execution, so bring this one on and let’s see how it executes. Or better yet, represents Rock Fiction. AND makes my knees weak. I love it when a good romance can make my knees weak.

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I’ve been turned into a Cecilia Tan fangirl, and let me tell how excited I was when Susan let me know that Hard Rhythm, the third in Tan’s Secrets of a Rock Star series, was on its way to me. Whee!

Turns out, this one is the story of one of Ricki and Gwen’s employees, Madison. She hooks up with a member of Axel and Mal’s band, Chino. He’s the drummer.

Like I said in my other reviews of the earlier books, I don’t see a lot of rocker in Chino. He’s very much an everyman, and that is disappointing. In fact, we see so little of Chino’s rocker side that I hesitate to call this Rock Fiction.

I gotta admit, of the three books in the series, this is my least favorite. The guys—Axel, Mal, and now Chino—aren’t quite distinctive enough, and their personalities are all sorta blending together. They’re dudes in bands and they’re all doms – how’s that affect your band dynamics there, guys? – and they support their successful women… but what sets them apart from each other? I need more.

The other thing that totally squicks me out is the Daddy-baby stuff. Ugh. Age play just isn’t my catnip.

A few other things and man, I hate to rip on Cecilia, but… this one just didn’t hit the mark. The ending felt rushed and the situation with Chino’s family was too simple, too fast. There was real meat in that subplot, and I really wanted to see more of the struggles and the intricacies and all of it. It came on too slow, resolved too easy, and just wasn’t satisfying. Same for the subplot that occupies Ricki and Gwen, and I’m not going to spoil that except to say what I just did: came on too slow, resolved too easy, and just wasn’t satisfying.

So I dunno. This one didn’t hit the mark. It felt rushed, and almost scattered. Like, what’s really the story here? Is it really Chino and Maddie? If so, focus on that. Or is it Chino and his family? If so, focus on THAT. I’d dig both stories, separately, and in fact, Chino’s family’s story could be some really positive, helpful fiction if Cecilia would develop all that stuff out. It’s important stuff and could really help others. I want that for her, to write something really ground-breaking.

I’m writing this one off as a mis-step in an otherwise really awesome series. I love the first two in this series, and I love how Cecilia makes me bring new eyes to sex dungeons and submission and what it all means. She’s still writing incredible scenes and still teaching me new things and sometimes, it can be hard to expand your world in all directions at once. Cecilia’s not the first author who’s struggled with that as I watched. She probably won’t be the last. But she’s one I’m hoping gets it under control ASAP. And, of course, if she needs help, Susan’s just an e-mail away.

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Talk about an oldie! I wasn’t even alive when this one came out, but here it is, on my radar, so what the heck. Let’s talk about it. It’s got a listing on GoodReads, so that means you ought to be able to get a copy SOMEwhere, even if you may have to dig through some dark and dusty and spider-filled spots in questionable bookstores that look more like a hoarder’s heaven than your local indie shop.

The book is called A Song Begins, and it’s the first in a series written by Mary Burchell, which seems to be a pseudonym for a great woman named Ida Cook, who saved Jews during the Holocaust. With a resume like that, expectations for the book just went up.

So here’s what it’s about:

An unknown benefactor had sufficient faith in Anthea Benton’s singing voice to pay for her training under the celebrated operatic conductor, Oscar Warrender. She was ecstatic, but her joy was short-lived when she came face to face with the great man. Cold and forbidding, he proved to be a hard taskmaster. She felt her dreams can be coming true… but would she be tough enough to work under such and exacting taskmaster?

A quick glance shows that there’s more Rock Fiction in this series, so expect to hear more about it from me. I’m looking around for my socks, which just got knocked off. And entire 13-book series of Rock Fiction romances? Written and published before they were a Thing?

Ida Cook might be my new hero.

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So Susan was talking to her friend Joyce Tremel the other day and pinged me about an author: Peggy Ehrhart. She’d read Peggy’s debut, Sweet Man is Gone a bunch of years ago and did I know anything more about Peggy’s books? She’d liked the one she’d read and was crazy busy with edits (really, you guys: if you need your book edited, call Susan. She’s damn good) and besides, this is my department anyway.

Like a good partner in Rock Fiction, I went and checked. Yep, Peggy’s got new books out. And so here’s one of them.

Got No Friend Anyhow might not be the second book after Sweet Man. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to read it!

Maxximum Blues has a solid foothold in the Manhattan blues scene but Maxx (Elizabeth) Maxwell knows a CD will make the band irresistible to festival organizers. Prowling Rooster Records is her label of choice but when the CD is nearly finished producer Rick Schneider disappears — and it looks like he’s hooked up with his old girlfriend singer-songwriter Brenda Honeycut.
Maxx’s quest is complicated by a rooster with personality to spare and by her old boyfriend Sandy who’s determined to win her back.

Got No Friend Anyhow in classic whodunit style takes the reader on a ride that keeps pages turning all the way to a dramatic and unexpected climax.

“A rooster with personality to spare” — what? Huh? Does it have to do with the fact that the record label is named Rooster Records?

Anyway, I like mysteries, and Susan liked Sweet Man — she says she has a copy of it on her shelf still. She said she might loan it to me, if I ever get caught up on what’s already here. So even though this description is a little thinner than I like, I’d read this. After all, Susan liked it!

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So right off, this one’s got me on edge. Why? Because “rock star” is always two words. Susan’s taught me that much and I gotta say I agree.

But here’s what it’s about:

Violet has been raised in a world with bikers, rough men and separated parents. The only savior in her world, was her love for Travis, her best friend. They grew up together, creating a hopeless friendship against all odds. Then he left, with no goodbye, no explanation.

Travis went on and became a successful rockstar, Violet moved on and thought she was finally over it. Then Travis returns and tugs on her heart strings all over again. She finds it hard to say no, she is different now…she isn’t the girl he once adored; dark things have happened to her. What if she isn’t what he believes he wants so badly?

Come on Travis and Violet’s journey of love, heartache and all the things in between.

Ugh, typos galore! (Hey, Susan would be glad to help with that…)

There are some interesting things here, if they get developed. Violet’s got it rough, it seems like. You gotta both feel for her and wonder what exactly those dark things are. There’s no trigger warning, but there’s this:

This book is erotica; it contains graphic sexual content and swearing – it is lusty, crazy, beautiful and in parts morally incorrect. It is one hell of a rollercoaster ride of love and heartache. It is action packed with drama, if this is not your thing, please don’t purchase it. It does end with a cliff hanger but I promise the next book will be HEA!
Please remember it is FICTION!!!

Makes you think.

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This one’s more of a duo than a series, to be honest. I don’t think two books can be a series, especially when the series is named for a publication, but there’s no mention of the publication in the description of the second book. (That said, the heroine is a photojournalist, so there’s hope for the tie-in there.)

It’s The Sound Wave Series, written by Michelle Pace. And I know next to nothing about it; I just found it by surfing GoodReads. The books were published in 2012 and 2013, so it’s not looking like there will be more of them.

In the first book, Fury, it’s the usual journalist is the only one who is allowed access to the band — but from there, what happens is murky. Romance? Something different? It sort of hints at a thriller, but not totally:

Once her assignment begins, Fury’s tour explodes in a Molotov cocktail of sex, scandal, and violence that threatens to ruin Fury’s quest for worldwide success. Can Cheyenne navigate her treacherous path unscathed, or will the demons of her past poison her blossoming career?

The second book, Rage, is all about a rocker and his girlfriend, the photographer. I’m guessing romance here. But, again, a lot of vague description:

When fate brings both Fury and Stephanie to a remote Brazilian paradise, the former lovers have no choice but to face each other head on. Will their wildfire chemistry burn down the wall between them, or will the tumultuous pair simply go up in flames?

Still, I’m intrigued. I’m intrigued why there are only two books in the series. What actually happens in them. And if there should have been more.

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I hate it when I get excited about a book based on its description and I don’t get a copy to read and then… the next one hits my radar! And it sounds just as much crazy fun as the first!

What do you get when you cross a smoking-hot rock star with a sexy lion shifter, then throw in a heaping dose of gothic fairytale enchantment? Gigi Loveland is about to find out!

Disapproving family members, an exclusive invitation-only ball, and a godmother wielding magic spells isn’t enough to keep Gigi from pursuing her mission of getting close to her favorite shifter rock band. She’ll do almost anything to accomplish her task. But in a world where interspecies relations are often as problematic as the human-shifter conflict, Gigi doesn’t know what hit her when her delicate gazelle senses tell her she’s falling for the band’s fierce, tortured, and intimidating bassist, Dash Lyons. Predators and prey don’t usually make the best love matches, and the closer she and Dash get, the more Gigi wonders if she really has what it takes to tame the beast.

Really. Rock Fiction is almost perfect for shifter stories; I don’t know why there aren’t more of them. If you know of them, bring them because this could be my new catnip! I want to know how this comes together and how they work it out. Or if poor Gigi gets eaten by her rocker… or if she’s the one doing the predatory thing!

BRING THIS. I need it!

(Unfortunately, it looks like there’s only two in this series and this poor book only has ten reviews. Ten? That’s it? If you’re one of those ten, drop Susan a note. She’d be glad to repost it here. And yes, she loves it when I make work for her!)

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Here’s the thing about Rock Fiction: if you don’t get the details right, you pretty much shoot yourself in the foot. The world building here matters because those of us in the know, those of us with industry background, will call you out.

And that’s the fatal problem with The Backstage Pass: The Complete Series (read as a box set and thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read it). The details of a touring band are so far off, it’s impossible to suspend disbelief for even a minute.

First off, I’ve never heard of any tour naming their tour busses. I even checked with a number of friends who currently have their hands in tours. Nope. That’s a new one.

The opening act is its own thing. It doesn’t travel as part of the band’s entourage. The headliner doesn’t pick up the expense of the opening act. Touring with a headliner is a privilege; why would the headliner pick up an expense they don’t need to? Profit margins on the road are slim enough as it is.

Band and crew doesn’t eat together. Not as one big happy family, anyway. There may be some overlap, but the two do such different jobs that… yeah, no. Besides, a band as big as this boy band is supposed to be is going to eat very differently than the crew. There are also no dressing room riders anywhere.

The authors of this series need to learn a thing or three about what a bunk in a tour bus really is. Sit up? Comfortable space for two? At first, I thought there were multiple busses, each with a bedroom in the back. It was the only explanation for how these so-called bunks would work.

I about threw my e-reader across the room when Ryder and his love interest spent the night at the arena, in their private dressing room. I still can’t get my brain around that. Spending the night in the arena?

Seriously. That one, right there, did it. Any authority the authors had flew out the window. You’re a headlining act and won’t extend the cost for a hotel room, especially when you do it at other times? Let me rephrase: you’re the headlining act.

Beyond the fact that spending the night in the bowels of an arena is creepy as hell, it’s crossed so far into fantasy that my brain keeps exploding, the more I think about it.

The worst part is that it kept going. We’re supposed to buy that the GED tutor—who herself is a teenager, which again stretches credibility—has this amazing voice and magically becomes an opening act, with no record, no label, no fan base, no manager, not even a demo?

And why does this tour feel like a dumping ground for teenage girls in sundresses who can’t be at home for the summer?

Then the daughter of the bodyguard gets stood up by her band member sorta-boyfriend and instead of reaching out to her father, who is with the band, just assumes the worst and runs away. Yeah. Real smart there, kid. And how about the fact that we never once see the father be fatherly? And then we learn that no, he’s the biggest victim in the family drama that’s kept him from being a good father, but he still doesn’t do a thing to try to fix his relationship with his daughter by, you know, trying to get to know her. Instead, all he does is issue edicts about how she’s not allowed to do this or that.

And, of course, the biggest signal of all: tour manager and manager are two entirely different jobs, and they don’t overlap for a very good reason. When I see that in Rock Fiction, I know right off that we’re dealing with someone who hasn’t taken the time to learn what needs to be learned. In this series, the manager is of course a slimy loser jerk. While there’s a reason the roadie nickname for tour manager is asshole, that doesn’t mean how the tour manager acts toward the band. It means how the tour manager acts on behalf of the band. At things like settlement after a show. Because, you know, the band is essentially his employer. And take note of essentially there. It’s a lot more nuanced than that.

Add in bad editing, both in each book—sorry, but “he ratchet his brain” isn’t even close—and across the series—if you’re going to italicize the stupid bus names in two of the books, do it in all of them—and… yeah. This reads more like Rock Fantasy, not Rock Fiction.

One last note: when I was Skyping with Susan and venting about the errors, her daughter came in the room and listened. “Sounds like every other Rock Fiction on Wattpad,” she said with a shrug. “That’s why I don’t read it.”
Sorry, folks. In a category where there’s so much good, this one’s a pass. If you want really good YA Rock Fiction, look to Sarra Manning’s Guitar Girl, or Nick and Norah, or Fat Kid Rules the World. And those are just off the top of my head. I bet if I searched the archives here at The Rock of Pages, I’d find more. I bet you would, too.

This was one we got via NetGalley, and if you can’t tell this is my honest review, well, I got nothing for you. It sucks when Rock Fiction lets me down in such an epic fashion. It really does.

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Now, this is an interesting-looking series because of the five books in it, three are devoted to this trio, Jessi, Tommy, and Angel. It’s their story, how their relationship goes from being just Jessi and Tommy to including Angel. In the final book, there’s a baby.

But books three and four? Are all about others in the bands. There are rockers hooking up all over in this series; it’s possible Jessi is the only character who isn’t in a band, but even she might be. Makes for some fun adventures and great potential, if this series is going to keep going! Hard to tell if it will or won’t; the first two came out in 2014, two more in 2015, but only one last year. Last January, which makes it a year since we’ve had an entry. Are we done at five? Does the series really end on a cliffhanger, like it seems to?

Anyway, these look like fun, with all the music connections all over the place, so bring ’em on!

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I have a feeling this one will appeal to people with certain reading tastes. I’m not sure I’m on board with them, but Susan’s always telling me that I might like it if I try it. So here goes. Here’s the book description of Strung Out:

Finding my best friend and getting the hell out of California is top priority. Especially as the relationship with my rockstar stepbrother becomes more complicated with each passing day…

I’m on the tour bus partying!

The text from my best friend, Ivy, is one of her last. When weeks stretch with no further contact, I travel to L.A. to track down the band known as Rageon and find Ivy.

As the daughter of a groupie mom, and of a rock star father who fatally overdosed, I know the dangers of the world my friend disappeared into.

My ex-stepbrother, Gage, a musician who’s just come off tour invites me to crash at his place.

The last time I saw Gage in person, we were teens. He’s everywhere on social media, so I’m prepared for the tattoo-covered rocker who answers my knock. What I’m not expecting to find is the sweet, sensitive teen I grew up with is now an irresponsible, partying playboy who lives for his next fix.

As the search for Ivy narrows, my relationship with my rockstar stepbrother becomes more complicated. The tingling tug of attraction toward him is unexpected–and unacceptable. First, we’re practically siblings. Most importantly, I’ll never allow myself to fall for a musician, especially one with a drug addiction.

Gage teams up with me to find Ivy, introducing me into the right circles and guarding my secrets.

My search for Ivy takes me places I never wanted to go…
And my heart is an unwilling passenger on that dark ride.

Strung Out: A Needles and Pins Rock Star Romance is 90k words which is around 300 print pages. It may appear to be double that as the download contains 2 versions of the same book, allowing readers to choose their favorite reading style of 1 POV or 3 POV

Wow, lots to talk about here…

First is the whole attraction to the stepbrother thing. Like I said, if this is your thing, have at it. I’m not convinced I am, but the boss has told me if a review copy shows up, it’s all mine. And she hopes a review copy shows up.

The bigger issue for both of us is the junkie angle. Susan’s made no secret that she doesn’t like Junkie fiction, and I’m not sure I do, either. It depends on how it’s handled. Here, it could be a gateway to the mission of finding Ivy. I like that our nameless narrator knows the dangers and wants to save her friend.

I’m not so sure how I feel about a romance with a junkie. And a junkie stepbrother, at that. It’s like double bad.

And this interesting twist at the end of the description? Hmm. Wow. You have your choice of POV. Susan says that’s like writing two entirely different books because of the structure of each POV and… frankly, folks, I tuned her out. She’s developed more and more technical talk, the longer and more successful she is as an editor, so I just nod at the right times. But maybe she’s right about this.

Or maybe she’s not.

I want to find out. As always, color me curious.