Archive for the ‘Blog Tour’ Category

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You GUYS. It’s Tuesday and I’m supposed to be coveting some Rock Fiction for you all, but I can’t. For one, I signed up to be part of this release blitz (I thought Susan was signing me up to review the book, but guess not).

And for another, the book arrived late and I’m not done reading it because, let me tell you, this is one to sit and savor. And read with your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, or battery-operated friend. Or any combination! I don’t care! Just… wow! Don’t miss this one!

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Pick up your copy. Seriously. Go get it. And if you haven’t read the first in the series, Taking the Lead, get that one, too. In fact, since this is the second in the series, it might do you good to read the first and get the background. Taking the Lead set up the storyline, and Wild Licks doesn’t do a lot of time explaining what’s already come to be. This is a good thing ’cause the book oughta be able to stand on its own, and is actually better so far ’cause it doesn’t have to take us through the set-up.

I’ll be back with a review. Or beat me to it, if you want. But we are just getting STARTED with the Cecilia Tan and Wild Licks goodness around here!

Amazon
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iBooks
IndieBound
Google Play
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Want to win a copy? You know you do!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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DESIGNED BY TOJ PUBLISHING SERVICES WWW.TOJPUBLISHING.COM

DESIGNED BY TOJ PUBLISHING SERVICES
WWW.TOJPUBLISHING.COM

There’s something about the way Cecilia Tan writes. I love it. Just love it. So much that twenty pages into her newest book, Taking the Lead, I had to stop and send e-mails to half my book friends, telling them they needed to read this, too. Tan gets the world of the rich, famous, and rock star royalty. She knows how the power players work. And it shows in these books she’s turning out. If that’s your thing, don’t miss Tan’s books. Period. That should be my whole review.

Except, did I mention she knows how to write a sex scene? Hoo boy, she can write it hot. Susan thinks Lorelei James is the gold standard. For me, it’s Tan.

So. Taking the Lead is about two of these power players and what happens when they find each other. Ricki Hamilton is a movie production chick. I’m not exactly sure of her pedigree, but it seems to be there, and I’m really not sure of her passion for movies as opposed to her passion for going to the office. But we hear all about this secret dungeon she’s inherited from her beloved grandfather and she’s got to run it. Except, of course, there’s all sorts of problems including a possessive loser with holier-than-thou issues. He’s a charmer. I hope he gets chained to the Daisy wheel in the dungeon and left upside down for days.

Ricki’s partner in lust here is Axel, a rocker who… he just doesn’t seem like much of a rocker to me. He doesn’t have that special charisma and half the time, I had trouble remembering if he was a singer or a guitar player. Axel could have been any other Hollywood player. He just didn’t stick out as a musician/rocker type. And I wanted him to.

So Axel and Ricki get together and suddenly, his kinda sorta there dom tendencies show up and Ricki’s all too glad to be his sub even though this woman who owns a dungeon doesn’t know exactly what that means. Axel’s glad to teach her, and in the heat of the moment, she’s glad to learn. It’s when she thinks and gets into her head that the problems begin.

Pretty damn normal, if you ask me. I know an awful lot of people who overthink and no, I’m not looking at my Rock of Pages boss here. Nope.

That’s their biggest obstacle: Ricki. Not sure she wants this lifestyle, she and Axel talk about it a lot. And that’s a good thing, especially because this isn’t one of those books where they start off with the spanking and end with the anal and it all goes according to script. Nope. This is a new-to-me sort of submission and domination and I bet this is a good representation of it being done right. I love that Axel has some really dead-on instincts about Ricki and they talk about things—well, he talks and she listens—and instead of Axel being a total domineering idiot, he cares about Ricki in a way that most doms don’t—at least in the fiction I’ve read, and I’ve read more than I probably should have. At times, their dialogue doesn’t feel real, especially when they start talking about BDSM using that exact acronym, but what’s important here is that Ricki is open to it, and not just because of the dungeon she never knew about.

If anything, she seems to keep what she and Axel do very separate from the activities in the dungeon. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad or how I feel about it because they should be intertwined but they’re not. I’m also not sure how I feel about the idea that being into the scene is genetic, which is pretty much what Ricki learns as she comes to terms with the death of her mother. And, too, the ending, which mirrors what she learns about her mother, bugs me. It seems like too much too soon, more of a neat ending to a book than truth.

So I’ve got these gripes, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t the best book I’ve read in a long time. I love that there’s issues of Hollywood gender power games and the dungeon and the legacy Ricki’s grandfather left that she has to fight against. I love that the situation with her father isn’t cut-and-dry, and I doubt we’re done coming to understand that poor screwup of a man. I love the depth of this world that Ricki inhabits, although that’s part of why Axel falls a bit short. It’s a hard act to follow!

Like I said, I love that Axel cares about her, that he’s not always the barking-orders type of dom who ignores her needs and tries to bury who she is so that she can serve him better. I love that Ricki gets to be herself, not who Axel thinks she ought to be. I love the sex and how it’s hot and it’s different and I love that scene in the limo, when she puts her hands behind her back and I swear, that is hotter than almost any sex scene I’ve ever read anywhere else. I love how Axel comes to own her, I love that he’s a rocker who thinks and who does rise above most of the usual stereotypes (I just wish he felt more musical). I love that they’re going to be a power couple and this is the first in a series and I really hope we get to see how they evolve as that power couple and how the dungeon changes because of them and how Hollywood changes because of them and maybe somewhere along the way, Axel will rediscover what it is that made him join a band in the first place because right now, I’m just not feeling it and I’m all about Rock Fiction so as much as I like the kinky fiction, I’m even more about the Rock and Roll, so bring it, please.

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Thanks to the folk at Rock Star PR for letting us take part in Cecilia Tan’s tour. They handed the free copy out, we read it and decided to leave the varnish off our thoughts ’cause we have too much integrity to be bought like that. All opinions are Jett’s own and shouldn’t be confused with Susan’s ’cause Susan’s still down and out with an eye injury and isn’t reading much of anything right now. But don’t point that out. She’s kinda grumpy about it.

Softer Than Steel Teaser

I think by now, it’s well documented that I’m a huge fan of Jessica Topper. And her books, too.

So of course I got all excited when I heard of her follow-up to Louder than Love and Deeper than Dreams. And off to NetGalley I went.

Softer Than Steel, this new one is called, bucking the cliché that keeps trapping me (yes, I keep calling it Stronger and Jessica keeps correcting me). It’s the story of Rick Rottenberg—Riff Rotten to Corroded Corpse fans—and the woman who yanks him out of grief for his first wife. Her name is Sidra and right off the bat, I have a major complaint: I never got a good fix on the age difference between the two. There was something about Sidra that struck me as being in her twenties. Rick, of course, has kids that age. And among the issues that these two have to work through—Rick’s grief, his anxiety attacks, the band, Sidra’s ties to her life, past and present, and her ambition (or lack thereof) for herself—age isn’t one of them.

So these two meet in what has to be one of the best meet cutes in fiction, and let me tell you, Topper is a genius with the meet cute. Here, Sidra holds an elevator for a panicking Rick… and it’s just too good to believe. Best of all, they are nothing to each other, irritants: he’s a hustling somebody who seems to look down his nose at her; she’s going to hit up the rock star’s generosity. Right?

The mistaken identity doesn’t last long, just long enough for an awful lot of laughter at mostly Rick’s expense. But he’s troubled enough that before long, he’s found his way to Sidra’s yoga studio, desperate for relief from the demons that have spent fourteen years torturing him. Fourteen years of mourning his first wife? Really? We know Simone was a heck of a woman—there’s a song written about her, after all—but c’mon, Rotten. Time to let it go. I’m glad he found a way because dude. Getting whiny there.

By and large, that’s the whole plot. The story is one of the two coming together, and the first third is a bit problematic because it feels like every time things start to roll, the story has to come to a screeching stop so the backstory can be filled in. Backstory, I’ve learned as an editor, is a sneaky little bastard and always hard to wield effectively. But once we get that stop-and-start over with, as Rick’s yoga practice grows, so does the mindfulness of the narration and we are allowed to exist in the present moment more and more.

Is that kismet or technique? I’m not sure, and I haven’t asked Jessica. I should because it would be an interesting technique to take apart. It doesn’t entirely work, unfortunately—because I am not a fan of stop-and-start narrative or a lot of backstory, most of which we know from having read Louder. So the story keeps stopping for us to re-learn stuff we already know.

One more thing that doesn’t work as well in this one, and that’s that I felt Jessica herself didn’t know Rick and Sidra as well as she knows Adrian and Kat, the couple from Louder Than Love. (And yes, you Adrian lovers, he and Kat have plenty of well-earned time here.) Rick and Sidra take a lot longer to come to life on the page, and that works against the story—as it always does.

I almost wish the story had started later, or been framed by a flashback, so we could see them starting from that point when they stop being characters on a page and start being people we’re sorry we don’t know in real life. But if that had happened, we’d have missed the amazing first meeting. And if I’m still raving about it, you KNOW it’s good.

Now. Some things that work really really well. We know Jessica Topper is the queen of really awesome, quirky details. I have encountered very few authors who do it as well as she does, and while it’s more subtle than in Dictatorship of the Dress, it’s there. Sidra’s yoga studio is in the back of a record store, which is also an old building that used to be a bike repair shop. This place has history and has been in the Sullivan family forever, but the best revelation is that in Sidra’s studio, there is a light that she’s been ordered to leave on. Always. Don’t even try to turn it off.

Rick, good Jew that he is, recognizes the light as the ner tamid, the eternal light that shines in every Jewish synagogue—which, when you trace the building’s history back far enough, is what it, indeed, used to be. The idea of doing yoga in what used to be a sacred space for Jews is both deliciously heretical and absolutely perfect. Yoga, after all, is a way of worshipping the self, the body, the world. And Sidra and Rick find ways to worship each other under the unblinking, always watchful eye of the ner tamid. It lends a sacredness to their love, a preciousness that you don’t want to see end.

It’s also the crux of the conflict that tries to pull the two apart, and while the solution is patently obvious and not nearly clever enough to live up to Jessica’s own standards—don’t you hate setting the bar super high?—it’s the right solution. And sometimes, that trumps it all.

Overall, this isn’t quite as good as Louder than Love, but this isn’t a bad book or one to avoid or to think of as the failure in the series. Perish those thoughts! If anything, I feel like it was a premature baby, not quite ready for prime time yet but here it is, so sit back and enjoy. And, of course, since this is all about yoga and love and things eternal, remember to breathe.

Disclaimer stuff: As stated, my copy came from NetGalley, and we all know how that works. I get copy. I read copy. I review book. End of contract. Also, thanks to GossipGirls PR for including The Rock of Pages on Jessica’s book tour. We’d love to do more Rock Fiction features like this. Thanks again!