Posts Tagged ‘great plot’


Ladies and gentlemen, we have a fresh plot! Check it!

The last thing marketing assistant Kayla Morgan expects to do on a Friday morning is give a tour of her emergency shelter to a flighty rock star. When her boss orders her to play nice, she acquiesces.

Sebastian Cox, lead singer of The U.K. Underground, finds the American bird with the bunker in her backyard more than wacky, but the band’s looking for a location to shoot their latest video.

When an earthquake strikes, the unlikely couple gets trapped and finds a few ways to keep themselves busy. Once reality sets in, will their differences leave them on shaky ground?

There is so much to say about this one, where do I start? How about this: Where’s the review copy???

This review was first posted at West of Mars. It’s being reposted here, at its new permanent home.

In my quest to become the world’s most knowledgeable woman about this genre I call Rock and Roll fiction, I must say that while I’ve encountered similar plots before, the situation in Sarra Manning’s Guitar Girl is a welcome, fresh one.

It’s told in flashback style, when it’s all over but the infighting. This is always a difficult structure to pull off well, but Ms.Manning does. We are set up for angst and betrayal and a lawsuit — but we get so much, much more.

Guitar Girl is the story of Molly, a girl who is inspired by rock queen Ruby X. Molly’s intrigued by the idea of girl power and what it means for a rock band, so she grabs her two best friends and starts a band. They are totally clueless, and that instantly endears us to them. They’re muddling through — until Dean and T enter the scene. Those two have a clue. In the end, we realize they have much, much more than that. Angst and betrayal, indeed.

This fivesome remains pretty clueless throughout the book, which is a total strength of the book. If Molly knew how she was being played, we’d have an entirely different — and significantly less charming — book. But part of the strength of Guitar Girl lies in the fact that we readers pick up the clues Molly keeps missing. Instead of calling her a blockhead and wanting to chuck the book aside, we can’t. Molly’s hanging on through this ride, and that’s about all she can manage to do. We don’t expect her to see the signs. Frankly, she’s not capable.

Yes, our heroine is in over her head almost from the get-go. The cynical part of me wants to scoff and say this could never happen. Sadly, I think it happens more often than not. This is music industry exploitation at its best, gang. How Molly manages to emerge from it as relatively unscathed as she does is pretty darn amazing. She’s so darn innocent as the book opens, a true naif, as my satire professor would have said.

Yet her innocence doesn’t keep her from seeing herself when she has a chance encounter in an elevator with another rocker type. Molly’s savvy enough to realize where she’s headed — and, no matter how hard it is, she knows what she’s got to do.

Guitar Girl is totally Molly’s story, and to that end, sometimes the supporting characters aren’t as strong as they could have been. Molly’s parents are well-drawn but sometimes veer into the realm of cliche. And the band? They aren’t nearly as distinctive as they should be. There are four other people in The Hormones with Molly, but Jane gets lost, both on the page and in her own life as alcohol and drugs take over. Tara’s pretty typical, T falls short of the goal of being deliciously eccentric, and Dean’s a jerk. He’s hard to like, even when he’s being nice to Molly. Why she is involved with him at all makes no sense, except that nothing else around her is in control. Why should her heart be?

It’s really the ending that makes this book touching. A moment in an elevator has ramifications and repercussions that are totally unexpected — but precious nonetheless.

This one’s a definite West of Mars recommended read.

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

Some friends told me a few years ago that rock stars were going to be the next big thing. So the time frame is about right for there to be not one but two books in the Silhouette Desire line featuring musicians.

I immediately ran to Paperback Swap and ordered both.

Seduced: The Unexpected Virgin, written by Emily McKay, was the first to arrive in my mailbox, so that’s the one I read first.

I’ve heard good things about the Desire line, but I have to tell you, this title is a turn-off. It seems beneath the book, especially since it’s about so very much more than a woman who’s a virgin. In fact, when the loving happens and Ana is a virgin no more, it’s a bigger deal to her new partner, Ward Miller, than it is to her.

Ana Rodriguez walked away from a career in Hollywood as a costume designer. She’s back home in Vista del Mar now, involved in the launch of a new non-profit designed to help lift the community to new heights.

I like Ana, but I’m not entirely certain I buy her as a costume designer. She’s not tough enough, not jaded and cynical enough. Her exchange with her right-hand helper, Emma, at the beginning of the book is great; that it becomes a running motif speaks to the skill of author McKay.

Our hero, too, is hard to buy as a rock star. Even a country music star. He’s … bland. Even his name: Ward Miller. Yawn. He ought to be oozing the charisma that endears his fans to him. If not, at least let’s see the grief that ought to be oozing out of him. After all, he’s a man who won’t live in the home he’d shared with his first wife, who hasn’t removed her things from that house.

Either Ward is severely repressed, or there just isn’t that much to him. Oh, we get to see his worry that he’s just a man, not a rock star. That he lets people down because he’s a man underneath the persona. What we don’t get to see is the persona.

This is the big let-down of this book. I love the plot. Love that we’ve got a woman who left behind the glamour to do something good in the world. Love that Ward set up this foundation/organization that incubates and launches and supports non-profits. What I am missing is that special spark in these two, not in a romantic sense. That’s there. But in who they are and how their lives outside of this story have shaped them.

Of course, we all know I wouldn’t have this complaint if Ward had been … oh, I don’t know. An accountant. A computer dude. Something that he’d have to have gone to college for. He’s got that vibe: college grad, straight-laced.

But a rocker, he’s not.