Archive for February, 2017

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So WHAT if it’s the end of February and the next holiday to look forward to celebrating is St. Patrick’s Day? And so what if we’re all tired of winter and ready for spring and green? Let’s take a step back a couple months and talk about a Christmas book. Because, you know, you’ll read about it now and go out and buy it, and it’ll sit around until you rediscover it before next Christmas, and then you’ll be in the mood.

Mark my words. That’s how these things work.

So the book is Rockin’ Little Christmas and it’s branded as being a True Mated Romance, although the first book doesn’t have a lick of Rock Fiction in it, if I go by its description. Which, for lack of other information, is what I’m using.

Here’s what it’s about:

When her parents’ rock band The Pack performs at Zach’s bar, Mandy discovers her True Mate, Joe Blackwolf, the band’s lead singer and guitarist. All she has to do now is convince Joe that she told a little white lie to make her mom happy, her father that rock musicians aren’t all alike, and her new mate’s family that rockers aren’t all that different from classical musicians.

Joe Blackwolf is celebrating his fortieth birthday. And what he wishes for when he blows out the candles is to find his True Mate. He succeeds when he meets Mandy Goldwolf. Problem is…he thinks she belongs to someone else. Finding out the truth leaves him free to explore every inch of her smokin’ hot curves, but now Joe and Mandy are neck deep in overbearing relatives and everyone is in for a Rockin’ Little Christmas.

Note: This book was previously published elsewhere but has been revised and updated.
Formerly titled: Cupid Rocks.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting: Cupid Rocks is the fourth in the True Mated series. But this isn’t part of that series, even though it has a new title? Color me confused! Francesca, stop in and explain it, will ya? Help a girl out here!

I love the line about “All she has to do now is convince Joe that she told a little white lie to make her mom happy, her father that rock musicians aren’t all alike, and her new mate’s family that rockers aren’t all that different from classical musicians.”

That is a LOADED statement, even though Susan looked at it funny and said she wasn’t sure it made sense. Too bad. I get the jist of it and sometimes, you need to go by the jist. And that? That jist just grabbed me. Hard.

So there ya go. If you’ve read this under either of its titles, or you know Francesca and can tell her we’re talking about her and have questions about the whys of things in her world, we’d love you for it. Or I will. Susan’s… well, she can be sparing with the love. It’s not you. It’s her. I think she needs some romance in her life, don’t you?

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It’s difficult to take a cast of unlikeable characters and make the reader care about them. Not all readers are willing to rise to the challenge, and that’s okay. The payout for those of us who are is bigger somehow.

Lisa Marie Perry has a cast of some tough characters. All of them are morally deficient in one way or another; all of them have seriously fatal flaws. In fact, it’s hard to believe this was published by one of the big houses, but it was. Good for them.

The set-up is pretty fascinating: the central player here isn’t a person so much as a record label. And we can argue the usefulness and relevance of record labels until the Spotify Premium’s up for renewal, but that’s not what Sin For Me is about. It’s about the people who used to control it (Dante and Delilah) and the people who currently do (Emma, Joshua, and Chelsea)—and the betrayals and baggage that remain as Delilah wants her family’s heritage back.

That’s the big story arc. There’s also a smaller one, in that it’s about the relationship between Dante and Chelsea. There was a betrayal between them as well, and it was part of the bigger betrayal that led to the leadership change at Devil’s Music. But it’s that betrayal between Dante and Chelsea that’s just as hard, if not harder, to get past. Dante copes by leaving town and starting life at the farthest point he can get to from the glitz and glamour of the record business. Chelsea, though, isn’t so lucky. She’s stuck in the executive offices, busy self-destructing and stuck in the guilt and anger of what she and Dante did to each other, surrounded by the constant reminders of him and the family legacy that she took from him.

This is enough for a single book, sure, but there’s a couple more subplots, as well: Delilah wants to make a play to get her label back and decides to use Dante to do it; one of the label’s artists is angry and turns first rogue and then violent; and a new talent comes into the fold. And, too, there’s something going on between married Emma and Joshua, something Chelsea doesn’t understand—and neither does the audience.

It’s almost too much, except there’s something soap opera-esque going on here, and the book certainly reads well. I found I had to read in small doses because the characters are so morally vapid, I’d have to resurface just to recalibrate myself. But at the same time, it was hard to put down (yes, it’s true: the famous editor loves trashy, soap opera-esque books as much as she loves everything else her clients throw at her. Maybe more? I’m not telling!).

This, friends, is the sign of a good book. It’s a train wreck you can’t look away from, a delicious taste of something forbidden. But best of all, the book itself isn’t a train wreck. It’s well crafted and constructed, the characters are beautifully drawn, and it’s well written. The various strands of the plot are well cared for in Perry’s experienced hands, and wow, does she do a great job with it.

But if there’s one area where the book isn’t as strong, it’s in the descriptions. I wanted a better view of what these people wear—telling me the sandals are diamond-studded doesn’t really show me much—as well as how this old house has become a record label, with stairs and offices and… just how does this place lay out and work? It was hard to visualize and I had a hard time making sense of what was where.

After all the rich plotting that happens here, I really missed the rich descriptions to go with the lushness of the characters. Here’s one book that demands more than just a broad brushstroke of description. It needs to breathe the way the rest of the story does.

Even before the cliffhanger ending—I hesitate to call it a cliffhanger because it doesn’t leave us on our toes at the edge of the world so much as it merely stops, the last page gets turned and you look up and wonder where the hell the rest of it is—I was hooked on this series. Morally absent or not, I’m dying to know what comes next for our salacious crew, and how they solve the problems that have been laid out in this first volume of The Devil’s Music.
October, when the second book is released, can’t come soon enough.

*Copy from NetGalley, and thanks for it! Can’t wait for #2*

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We’ve had Tracy Wolff’s first two books in her Shaken Dirty series on our List for a long time, but this is the first time either Susan or I have openly wanted to read her. Which is stupid; who wants to start a series with the third book? But I’m going to write about that one today because I’m in a mood and feeling stubborn. Why does the first always get the love?

Here’s what the third, Fade Into You, is about.

Wyatt Jennings has been called a lot of things by the media. Bad-boy rocker. Intense drummer. Addict.

Finally out of rehab and desperate for a fresh start, Wyatt rejoins his mega-platinum rock band Shaken Dirty as they prepare for their world tour. But Wyatt’s demons are never far behind, always nipping at his heels for one. More. Fix.

Enter Poppy Germaine, the band’s new social media consultant. A beautiful bombshell who somehow manages to get underneath Wyatt’s skin, Poppy’s an addiction Wyatt can get behind. And even though she’s with the label—and therefore off-limits—he craves her. Needs her.

Except Poppy isn’t actually a social media consultant. She’s the daughter of the label’s CEO, sent undercover to babysit Wyatt and keep him from falling off the wagon again. Proving herself to her father is Poppy’s only goal—until she finds herself in Wyatt’s bed. But if Wyatt discovers the truth, it could send him spiraling all over again…

So my first thought was that here we go, into stuff we’ve seen and read before. Yawn.

And then the twists showed up. And dude, I’m hooked. Yeah, it’s clear we still have an employee in the rocker’s bed. I see that. Believe me, I see it. And believe me, I still hate it.

But I like the awareness here, the idea that the label head is so committed to this band (because, let’s face it, that’s rarely the case. The A&R guy? The manager? The people who work directly with the band? Absolutely. But a label head? Says something about the drawing power of this band — or it says the author doesn’t know her stuff, but let’s be positive here.) that he’ll take such drastic steps. I’m not sure of the wisdom of sending his beautiful daughter into the thick of things, but… I’m not a parent. Maybe it’d be different if I was in this guy’s shoes, so I hope we get to really understand his thinking here. I mean, doesn’t he know that there’s always this chance of chemistry?

Anyway, bring this one, and the rest of the series, on! It looks like at least two more are scheduled, as well, with titles listed at GoodReads. Let’s see where this one goes.

And hey, if you’ve read any of these books, send your reviews over and I’ll make Susan post them! We’d love help shouldering the burden around here and spreading the Rock Fiction love.

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Well, THAT title pulls no punches, now does it? No one better complain they don’t know what they are getting when they pick this one up. And no one better complain about the detailed sex, either. It’s right there, in the title.

So what’s this erotic romance about? Let’s consult its description:

Evan: She has no idea who I really am. It’s the perfect situation. After an incident that causes me to re-evaluate my life, I’ve come here to escape the demands of my career. The last thing I expect to find is someone who doesn’t see me through the prism of my fame. But then I meet Audrey, who allows me to unleash lustful desires I’ve suppressed for years.

Audrey: He’s uncommonly sexy and brazenly confident. He’s exactly who I don’t need to meet at this point in my life, but I have no choice. Drawn in by his relentless seduction, I’m soon taking chances I never thought I’d take, shedding my fears and letting him over my protective walls. And there’s his unusual “rider list,” always surprising me, testing my limits, exploring our fantasies, leading to the most sensual experiences of my life.

What starts as a perfect distraction for both of us quickly becomes an entanglement of scorching hot sex, closely held secrets that could tear it all apart, and moments that will shape us for the rest of our lives.

So this is kinda familiar, in that rockers who are escaping and reevaluating are common heroes, and heroines who are drawn in by his magnetic pull. But what it doesn’t give us in this description is the assumption of the Happily Ever After. In fact, I kinda get the drift they’re gonna part at the end, happy and sexed up, but ready to go their own ways.

And I’m cool with that.

Of course, I’m also cool with the sex. Bring it ON, baby. I love good erotic fiction. I really do.

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It was almost a year ago that Michelle reviewed Girl with Guitar (come back, Michelle! We miss you!), and now it’s my turn to drool over something Caisey has written. Even though it’s almost 2 years old, I still want to read it! Here’s why:

Nashville meets New Adult in Neon Dreams, a dramatic, sexy series from bestselling author Caisey Quinn, about a country band’s rocky road to fame—and the ambition, dreams, and love of the people who make the music.

Dixie Lark hasn’t had it easy. She lost her parents in an accident when she was young and grew up in a ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo with her ailing grandparents and overprotective older brother. Thanks to her grandfather, Dixie learned to play a mean fiddle, inspired by the sounds of the greats—Johnny and June, Waylon, and Hank. Her grandfather’s fiddle changed Dixie’s life forever, giving her an outlet for the turmoil of her broken heart and inspiring a daring dream.

Ten years later, Dixie and her brother, Dallas, are creating the music they love and chasing fame with their hot band, Leaving Amarillo. But Dixie isn’t enjoying the ride. All she can think about is Gavin, the band’s tattooed, tortured drummer who she’s loved since they were kids. She knows he feels the connection between them, but he refuses see her as more than his best friend’s little sister.

Convinced that one night with Gavin will get him out of her system, Dixie devises a plan. She doesn’t know that her brother has forbidden Gavin from making a move on her-a promise he swore he’d always keep . . . a promise that once broken will unexpectedly change the future for Dixie, Gavin and the band.

Little sister trope! If this is your catnip, here you go.

If you’re just here for the Rock Fiction, get in line. In front of me. Behind me. I don’t care. Review this before I do. Still don’t care.

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Michelle A Valentine is another author who’s got a huge backlist of Rock Fiction but has yet to stop in and see us. Someone, invite her over! And if you’ve read something she’s written, we’d love to hear from you, too. Write up a review and be a guest around here. We promise no dancing kitchen utensils, although Susan thinks they were a nice touch.

(Susan’s weird.)

Anyway, this is a new standalone that was supposed to come out in 2016, but GoodReads doesn’t make it clear if it did or not. There are a couple reviews (no, Susan, I didn’t read them. Yet.), but… only a few. Hey, Michelle: if you’re struggling, Susan’s a great freelance editor!

(She pays me to say that.)

Here’s the book description:

Fame can disappear in an instant…

Fortune is a fleeting fantasy…

Laz Rawlings had them both, until he lost it all…

Laz, a former world-famous music producer screwed up everything thanks to his rock-n-roll lifestyle, but he’s been given an opportunity to prove his genius in the music industry wasn’t a fluke, and he’s hell-bent on not letting history repeat itself. But that’s proving difficult when the young singer he’s tasked with grooming has become the object of his every desire.

Life has been an uphill battle for Aundrea Newton, so when a sexy, tattooed stranger hand delivers her dream of a music career, she’s skeptical. Nothing ever comes easy, and she knows Laz has the power to crush both her career and her heart with his undeniable sex appeal and charismatic swagger.

When the line between mentor and student blurs, both begin to question what’s more important: Love, sex or the music.

Laz? Definitely a blog post in the making ’cause you know one of my favorite topics is How did your rocker get his name?

And hey, I can answer the question about what’s most important: music first, then sex, then love. But maybe I’m jaded?

Michelle! We want review copies when this is out! And we want you to come visit with us, too.

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Here’s another trilogy that I’ve heard so much about, I could have sworn I’d already drooled over it. But apparently not ’cause I can’t find it in the archives anywhere, which is weird because Lily Harlem is another author Susan follows.

The series is the Mattress Music series, and it’s three books, and it’s old. 2010 and 2011 release dates. Really, we are overdue to bring it to your attention!

So here goes.

The description of the first one sounds like it’s music-as-fan, which is fine. Look at Nick and Norah for how music can be a soundtrack. But given that the other two books in the series are more directly about men rockers and the women who encounter them, I’m kinda skeptical that the first book is so lacking rockers. I bet he’s there.

Book Two is an old flame trope, and Book Three is about a threesome (how fitting that it’s book three!). The only issue I have is in the last line of the third book, where it sounds like the woman is the band’s manager, but it’s a throwaway line, and maybe manage is meant differently. Only one way to find out!

These were originally published by Ellora’s Cave, and didn’t they close? If so, I hope Lily has the rights back and will republish them– and will share them with us here at The Rock of Pages. (hint!)

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Maybe six months ago, I was all excited to read Kristen Callihan’s Idol. Now I’m excited to read the next in the series, Managed. Here’s why:

It started off as a battle of wits. Me: the ordinary girl with a big mouth against Him: the sexy bastard with a big…ego.

I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I was upgraded to first class on my flight to London.

That is until HE sat next to me. Gabriel Scott: handsome as sin, cold as ice. Nothing and no one gets to him. Ever. He’s a legend in his own right, the manager of the biggest rock band in the world, and an arrogant ass who looks down his nose at me.

I thought I’d give him hell for one, long flight. I didn’t expect to like him. I didn’t expect to want him. But the biggest surprise? He wants me too. Only in a way I didn’t see coming.

If I accept his proposal, I leave myself open to falling for the one man I can’t manage. But I’m tempted to say yes. Because the real man beneath those perfect suits and that cool façade just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And I just might be the only one who can melt the ice around his heart.

Let the battle begin…

So he’s an arrogant manager… man, we see a lot of those. Think it’s because arrogance comes easily to the successful? They get too much of themselves?

But I’m curious what this “only in a way I didn’t see coming” means. You’d think it’s sexual, right? Except… this is a romance, so we readers see it a million miles off. Doesn’t mean the lead doesn’t, just that she’s maybe not as smart as we are.

All in all, it sounds like Gabriel’s music ties are there for color, making this Not Rock Fiction. But I need to read it to see. Which means… I need to read it.

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So Susan read a Maya Banks book a couple years ago. She was disappointed in it.

But I’m not Susan, so I’m going to try to track this one down, and her review isn’t going to bug me at all. Mostly because I didn’t bother to read it.

Here’s what Kept is about:

From the author of Mastered and Dominated comes the third Enforcers novel—the searing story of a woman who finds sanctuary in surrender…

He can’t change who he is…

A horrific childhood has made Silas the man he is today: dangerous, distrustful, and demanding. He’s lived in self-imposed solitude, convinced that no woman could ever accept his need for absolute control—in business and pleasure. That is, until a young violinist walks into one of his buildings and into his life.

She can’t change what she wants…

Haley has been struggling to fulfill her father’s dying wish: to attend a prestigious music school in New York City. But even working two jobs, she can’t afford the tiniest of apartments. Seeing her hopeless and near tears, Silas vows to help and protect her, no matter the cost to himself. But when Haley meets his every demand with unwavering acceptance and love, he is overwhelmed by her goodness and gentle spirit. He knows that the dark stain on his soul can never be erased—and rather than risk destroying the most beautiful thing he’s ever experienced, he knows he’ll have to do the hardest thing he’s ever had to face. Let her go. But he’s totally unprepared for the lengths Haley will go to fight for his love and a future brighter than the sun…

So how much of this has to do with music? That’s the number one question I have.

I’m a little leery of the “absolute control–in business and pleasure” part because that just seems cruel to me and not my thing, but Maya Banks has such a good reputation (and Susan met her once and said she’s awesome in person) and honestly, I’m curious. This guy knows he could destroy his love. He’s got hard choices, but what a chance to open up and grow into someone new.

I’m intrigued. Totally. Even though none of that plot seems like it’s Rock Fiction at all.

Hey, every now and then, one reaches out and grabs me. What can I say?

(btw, for those of you who care, this is the third in a series, and I have no idea if they are related, or if you have to read the first two, or what. If you know, let’s hear from you!)