Dual ARC Review: Hot Ticket by Olivia Cunning

hotticket-236x360Format Read: ARC provided by Publisher courtesy of Netgalley for Review
Length: 400 Pages
Series: Sinners On Tour, Book 4
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Formats Available: eBook, Kindle, Nook, Trade Paperback
Purchasing Info: Publisher, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Powell’s, The Book Depository, Kindle, Nook

Book Blurb:

He needs her to mask his pain…

When Jace walked through the doors of Aggie’s dungeon, the last thing he expected was to find self-forgiveness and the love of a remarkable woman. But when a terrible accident sidelines Jace during the band’s tour, the burdensome chains of his past wrap ferociously around his heart.

She needs him to forgive himself…

Determined to crack through Jace’s armored shell, Aggie must go beyond her usual methods to mend his heart to love again.

Our Thoughts:

Marlene: If you have been following Olivia Cunning’s Sinners on Tour, when you read the opening of Hot Ticket, you might have the feeling that you’ve been here before.

And you’d be right.

Lea: The timeline of this one was a deja vu situation and I liked it in some ways because it refreshed my memory after such a long break since the release of Rock Hard. On the other hand there were times when it all seemed “more of the same” from a different character’s perspective. Also with reading Double Time late last year, we knew a lot of what was coming.

Marlene: The opening of Hot Ticket is the same scene as the opening of Rock Hard, just from a different perspective. Instead of Jessica going on stage at the strip club and being hauled off by Sed, we have Aggie going on stage and being mentally stripped by Jace.

At least Jace has a bit more self-control. He doesn’t start the barroom brawl. He only finishes it.

But then, control is one of Jace’s issues. And Aggie’s. Because Aggie uses her dancing at the club to find clients for her real business, being dominatrix Madame V. It’s Madame V. that Jace needs. Jace thinks that he needs to be hurt, that he deserves it. He’s long past the point where he’s mixed up pleasure and pain.

Being a domme is Aggie’s business. Helping Jace, finding a way for Jace to work through his real pain, becomes her mission.

Lea: Well put Marlene. Initially at least, I found Aggie challenged to the point of mental derangement because she cannot get Jace to submit to her domination. And, it isn’t for lack of trying, she beats him with every implement imaginable and he asks for more. Maybe it’s my nurturing instincts, but I found Jace’s heartrending emotional pain enticing. I just wanted to hug the poor guy and sooth his tortured soul.

When I first started this book and Aggie was wielding her bullwhip in the club, playing her tough dominatrix role, I nearly dropped my Kindle on the floor, I’m not good at all with brutal sadism. I was glad I persevered and thought Cunning did a good job of making Aggie’s sadistic tendencies palatable to readers by characterizing this tormented man who needed physical pain to lessen the emotional. Aggie gives him what he needs and eventually helps him to work through his insecurities and very low self esteem which was actually quite moving, to a point.

Marlene: Jace needs the release that Aggie gives him to keep the demons at bay. But Aggie sees that sweet, tortured Jace is deserving of all the love, and all the respect, in the world. If only he would ever let himself believe it.


I’ll admit that I had a lot of mixed feelings about this story. Surprisingly not about the BDSM aspects. While they exist, they did not seem to be as huge an element of the plot as the blurb makes you expect.

Jace has confused pleasure and pain because he is hurt on the inside. That’s the part that is really painful. And because he can’t admit to himself that he enjoys the pain. He’s decided he deserves it for reasons that are part of the story. He’s a walled up emotional mess.

He can’t believe he deserves anything good in his life. His need for pain is just part of that. And we do find out why in the story.

Lea: I agree regarding your analysis of what the author was trying to relate to readers regarding Jace and his inner turmoil. He certainly learned to suppress his pain as a defense mechanism. Jace also doesn’t believe he is worthy of love, which was heart breaking.

I too had great difficulty rating this story, I loved Jace to the point of swooning (and I never swoon) but I was also conflicted with regard to Aggie. It wasn’t the pleasure/pain part of their relationship, it was her whole amateur psychologist gig. I just didn’t buy that she would be so insightful and able to heal all of this guy’s horrific emotional wounds. I got there was a great love developing between them, and they both fed each others fetishes but thought was rather unrealistic. While I know, it’s to be expected (it is the Sinners’ modus operandi after all) but there was so much exhibitionism, voyeurism and sexual excess going on, on that tour bus I became desensitized at times. Which brings me to Eric, this guy is the ultimate voyeur, and the scenes with him, Jace and Aggie made my eyes bug.

I did like that once Aggie and Jace were together they stayed together, there was plenty of conflict but it was satisfying to see them work through their mega issues without the ultimate relationship break-up, then getting back together. I felt there was an overabundance of sentimentality with Aggie, she is supposed to be this bad-ass dominatrix but turns over the top mushy with Jace. As well, her meddling bothered me.

Marlene: What we don’t find out, and it does bug me, is why Aggie is so unwilling to commit. We do find out why she became a dominatrix, but I didn’t get enough of why she spends so much of the book completely unwilling to commit. Not just to Jace, but to anyone. It’s a pattern that’s not explored.

She also has a terrible relationship with her mother, who comes off as a stereotypical bad mother. This entire series has a parade of bad parents, and absent parents. Did no one have a good childhood?

Lea: Yep Marlene, there is that. lol Not one of them seems to have any sort of foundation of parental normalcy which is why they are such a bizarre, dysfunctional bunch. There has been a strong sense of loyalty established within the Sinners ‘family’, and it’s good to see how they support each other. I liked seeing more of Sed’s leadership strengths and despite his arrogance, he lends support to his fellow band-mates.

Marlene: Another big issue for me was that the out of order release impacts the story. A chunk of the beginning of this story is Rock Hard re-hashed from Aggie and Jace’s perspective. We know what’s going to happen because we know how that story ended. On top of that, we know how this story ends because Double Time was released out of sequence. We already know about the bus crash and its aftermath because that’s in the past in Double Time. And we know that Aggie and Jace are together in the future.

That’s not the author’s fault, but it makes reading Hot Ticket, well, not as hot as it might have been.

Lea: Again, I agree.

The thing I’ve so enjoyed about this series is the humor, Cunning always makes me hoot with laughter! The Sinners are so irreverent and crazy and you never know what is going to come out of these guys mouths. I am curious to see what will happen with Eric, we met the woman he is matched with in Double Time but it will be interesting to see how Cunning will manage his voyeuristic tendencies and I will give his book tentatively entitled Snared a try when it’s released this fall. I’m wondering if there will be a spin off series featuring the Exodus End band?

Marlene gives Hot Ticket 3 1/2 roped and tied Stars

Lee gives Hot Ticket 3 1/2 Stars

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Double Time by Olivia Cunning

Format read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: Contemporary romance, Erotic romance
Series: Sinners on Tour, #5
Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: November 6, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

He Craves Her Music and Passion

On the rebound from the tumult of his bisexual lifestyle, notoriously sexy rock guitarist Trey Mills falls for sizzling new female guitar sensation Reagan Elliot and is swept into the hot, heady romance he never dreamed possible.

She Can’t Get Enough of His Body

Ecstatic to be on tour learning the ropes with Trey’s band, The Sinners, Reagan finds she craves Trey as much as she craves being in the spotlight.

They Both Need More…

When Reagan’s ex, Ethan Connor, enters the scene, Trey’s secret desires come back to haunt him, and pleasure and passion are taken to a whole new level of dangerous desire.

I liked Double Time more than I did Rock Hard, but then again, that’s a pretty low bar to dance over.

Looking at it another way, I took a time out from Double Time for a couple of days, and really wasn’t in any hurry to get back to it either. I obviously didn’t find it as compelling as Backstage Pass.

It doesn’t help much that although Double Time was published third in the Sinners on Tour series, by the internal chronology of the series, it’s book 5. There are events we have yet to read about that are spoiled by this book.


The story of Double Time is one hot mess, but then, so is Trey Mills, the Sinners’ rhythm guitarist. Trey has been in love with Brian Sinclair since pretty much forever. And that love is totally unrequited. Brian only wants Trey’s friendship.

Brian married Myrna, his muse and the love of his life, in Backstage Pass. Trey really, really needs to move on.

Exodus End needs a new bass player. Theirs has a serious case of carpal tunnel. Their publicist hatches this “terrific” idea–a contest to be Exodus End’s bass player for a year! If this sounds a lot like the Nickelback song “Rockstar”, it might be intentional.

Trey sits in when his brother judges the finalists, and damn if one of them doesn’t play just like Brian. He thinks it IS Brian having a joke at his expense.

It’s Reagan, and she’s gorgeous. Also a fantastic guitar player. And she’s Exodus End’s new bassist. As well as suddenly the owner of what’s left of Trey Mills’ heart.

But as easy as it is for Trey to get Reagan to fall for him, and as surprised as he is to fall for her, there’s one big problem: Reagan’s alpha-hot roommate Ethan.

Ethan lost Reagan because he’s bi, and Reagan couldn’t deal with it. She’s convinced herself Ethan is gay. He’s not only not gay, he’s still in love with Reagan. The more attached that Trey becomes to Reagan, the scareder he is of telling Reagan that he is just like Ethan. And that he wants them both.

That maybe he might be able to love them both. Even if it’s the worst thing in the world for all of them.

Escape Rating B-: I did like this, but it went on a bit too long. Reagan seems to have been willfully blind about Ethan’s feelings for her, in spite of them sharing housing for years. And he kept scaring off all her potential boyfriends.

I thought she accepted Trey’s sexuality way too quickly after being totally against the possibility with Ethan. I know the situation was different because Trey didn’t cheat on her first, but he did conceal what he wanted. For a good reason, but there was still some lying involved.

It was good to finally see Trey get over Brian. His agonizing got old. I think I got a little too much of it by this point, and in this book he was conscious of thinking that he was trying to get over Brian and wrenching his thoughts away. The point got made and went over the top.

The instant love between Trey and Reagan, and between Trey and Ethan was just the “cherry” on the top that the previous point flew over.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 1-13-13

Does that date look weird to anyone else? I think it’s the 13-13 that threw me for a loop.

Talk about being thrown for a loop…we just moved to Seattle from Atlanta, and, the Seattle Seahawks are playing the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC playoffs, today. As I’m writing this, the Seahawks just pulled ahead by one point, and there’s only 25 seconds left in the game. I’m afraid to watch.

Since everyone at work knows I just moved here from Atlanta, I’ve had way too many conversations at work explaining that I’m NOT rooting for the Falcons. No way. Now if the Cincinnati Bengals were still in it, we might have to talk, but it takes a lot longer than 18 months to get a piece of my heart. Which means I also still root for the Chicago Bears. (I lived in Chicago a long, long time)

And oh crap, the Falcons are in Field Goal range. And they made it. Damn it. I don’t think there’s going to be any joy in Mudville tonight. Mighty Casey just struck out. (Yes, I totally mixed my sports metaphors.)

The Seahawks may have just lost their playoff berth, but there was a winner here at Reading Reality. Tin Ong won the $10 Amazon Gift Card in the New Year’s Blog Hop this week!

Besides the last gasp of that New Year’s Blog Hop, what else happened last week?

B Review: Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning
B+ Review: Perfection Unleashed by Jade Kerrion
Interview with Jade Kerrion + Giveaway!
B Review: Immortally Yours by Angie Fox
B+ Review: Enchanting the Lady by Kathryne Kennedy
C- Review: Rock Hard by Olivia Cunning
Stacking the Shelves (30)

There’s a new week coming up, which means new treats for everyone!

On Monday I’ll be reviewing Tiffany Allee’s new superhero romance, Heels & Heroes. Let’s just say that the “Heels” involved in the title are the fashionable kind, but that the “Heroes” in the title are both super and yummy. As part of the tour for this book, Tiffany is giving away 3 copies.

Tuesday I’ll have a guest post from Blair McDowell, as part of her tour for her latest romance/suspense title, Sonata. I always love seeing Blair’s books come up on tour, because I enjoy her work so much, and Sonata was no except. I’ll have a review on Tuesday, and Blair will also have a giveaway.

Wednesday and Thursday I’m reviewing Olivia Cunning’s Double Time and Elisabeth Staab’s King of Darkness. Completist me, both of those reviews (as well as last week’s Enchanting the Lady by Kathryne Kennedy) were to get ready to review the latest books in those series. On Thursday at Book Lovers Inc. I’ll be reviewing Elisabeth Staab’s Prince of Power, if you want to “collect the set” for yourself.

Friday’s review is a treat for me. I’m reviewing The Killings at Badger’s Drift. It’s the first in  Caroline Graham’s Chief Inspector Barnaby series. I’ve enjoyed Midsomer Murders so much, that I couldn’t resist reading the books. And sharing them.

Last, but very definitely not least, the Happy Endings Blog Hop starts on Saturday, January 19. It will certainly be a Happy Ending for the winners of all the lovely bookish prizes at the hop participants!

And the week after next will be another busy week! I’ll be hosting tours for Waterfall by Lacy Danes, Nobody’s Angel by Stacy Gail and The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy. With giveaways!

Who said cats and water don’t mix?

Review: Rock Hard by Olivia Cunning

Format read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: Paperback, ebook
Genre: Contemporary romance, Erotic Romance
Series: Sinners on Tour #2
Length: 436 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: April 5, 2011
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

An ultimatum can break your heart…

Every night lead singer, Sed Lionheart whips thousands of women into a frenzy with his voice alone. But the stage is the only place Sed feels any passion since he lost Jessica…

If you’re not willing to break all the rules…

It shattered her heart, but law student Jessica broke off her engagement to Sed, determined to be successful on her own terms. But no other man can ever hold a candle to Sed…

Then a chance meeting and tortuously close quarters lead to uncontrollable flares of passion and rediscovery of their unique penchant for public encounters. Now, in addition to the risk of mutual heartbreak every time they get together, they’re in danger of truly scandalous public exposure…and sin.

Rock Hard is the second book in Olivia Cunning’s Sinners on Tour series. I really enjoyed the first book, Backstage Pass (see review here), because it was both a love story and it gave me kind of a backstage pass into the lives of a rock band.

Backstage Pass was terrific. That story worked for me because I felt for the two characters in the love story, Brian and Myrna. It was a very steamy sex into love story, but still definitely a love story.

Also a great introduction to all the members of the Sinners.

Rock Hard is supposed to be the story of the next member of the band, Sedric Lionheart, and the woman he lost his heart to, Jessica. It’s supposed to be a second chance story where Sed finds Jessica again.

The problem for me was that Sed acts like an ass through much of the book, and Jessica acts like a doormat. Then they have make-up sex or angry sex and start the cycle all over again.

What they don’t do is communicate, except when Trey has his own serious issues. Trey’s problems were much more sympathetically handled than anything going on between Sed and Jessica.

Sed wants to take care of Jessica, which might be a laudable goal, but he does it by telling her what he’s going to do for her, then getting angry and verbally abusive when she doesn’t agree. Jessica, in turn, yells and runs away, or yells and forgives him. Or yells and pulls some passive-aggressive crap.

Their behavior towards each other comes off as co-dependence a lot of the time. And Jessica needs to be slapped seriously upside the head for not insisting on safe sex. I don’t normally need to have my reality mixed into my fantasy this way, but Sed was so incredibly promiscuous during the years that they were apart, there’s no way he doesn’t need to be tested. Possibly for months. Just as an object lesson. Condoms tear.

The other thing I couldn’t believe was how often they had sex in public places, because they kept getting caught, over and over. Then Sed would say something unfortunate, stupid, or both to a reporter and Jessica would get angry, again. They both needed to take way more responsibility for their joint behavior than either of them was willing to do until the very end.

Escape Rating C-: I’m only going this high because I did enjoy the parts of the story that focussed on the other characters. Trey’s side-story, which probably sets up his book later, was very well done.

I was also happy to check in with Brian and Myrna, although I was surprised that Myrna did not see what was going on with Trey. She’s the psychologist, after all.

And Rock Hard was definitely a page-turner. Sed and Jessica’s relationship was a train-wreck through most of the book, and I couldn’t turn my eyes away. Just like watching a wreck.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning

Format read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: Mass Market Paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Series: Sinners on Tour #1
Length: 378 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: October 1, 2010
Purchasing Info:Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Five stunning guys, one hot woman, and a feverish romance…

For him, life is all music and no play…

When Brian Sinclair, lead songwriter and guitarist of the hottest metal band on the scene, loses his creative spark, it will take nights of downright sinful passion to release his pent-up genius…

She’s the one to call the tune…

When sexy psychologist Myrna Evans goes on tour with the Sinners, every boy in the band tries to seduce her. But Brian is the only one she wants to get her hands on…

Then the two lovers’ wildly shocking behavior sparks the whole band to new heights of glory… and sin…

Sex research clearly isn’t as much fun as actual sex. And boring academics are the same everywhere, no matter what the focus of their research.

In fact, Hell probably consists of sitting in an endless conference, listening to people read their Power Point presentations. (I am NOT kidding about this)

Myrna Evan’s topic is male sexuality, and her examples are rock stars. (Anyone who does not think a guitar is a phallic symbol, just take a look at this picture of Bruce Springsteen)

Her favorite example is Brian “Master” Sinclair, lead singer and guitarist for the hard rock band, The Sinners. When she finds the entire band seemingly slumming in the bar of the same hotel as her terminally boring conference, she takes her courage in both hands and brazenly goes to their table and introduces herself.

The guys are all astonished, respectful, and turned on as hell. Especially Brian, who falls into instant something. Maybe it’s love. It’s certainly lust. However, Brian has a habit of falling hard, and often, for every woman who catches his eye.

Myrna, who has some serious issues about love and commitment thanks to one of the skeeviest ex-husbands ever, gets caught up in Brian’s spell. And definitely vice-versa.

And in spite of suffering a seriously long case of writer’s block, sex with Myrna unblocks Brian’s song-writing talent in a major way. He wants to keep her around as his muse. And more.

Myrna is scared of commitment, but she’s got an idea for a fantastic research project. One that might get her academic contract renewed for another year. She can research the promiscuous behavior of band groupies!

It gives her the perfect excuse to tour with the Sinners all summer. Thinking up the project has nothing to do with how much she wants to be with Brian. Not at all.

Can Brian convince Myrna that they have something real? Or will her commitment-phobia ruin the best thing they’ve both ever had?

And where are the flowers coming from?

Escape Rating B: Backstage Pass is steamy, sexy and absolutely screamingly fun. Brian and Myrna’s love story, and it is definitely a love story, has just enough romance to keep you reading to find out how Brian is going to convince Myrna to give the whole thing a chance, but she is skittish for a good reason.

She is being stalked by her ex. That side-plot was obvious, but seeing him finally get his just desserts was absolutely worth it.

I also liked it that Myrna was a bit older than Brian and the band. She’s going to be taking charge of a lot, so it made sense in the story. It was great how Brian handled it, that he loved her and didn’t care a bit. But Myrna’s taking on a lot with Brian, the band, the groupies, and her own career. It worked for her to have some history.

Read Backstage Pass if you’re looking for something absolutely smoking hot to pass a chilly winter’s night.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 1-6-13

It’s the first Sunday Post of 2013. And away we go!

During this week’s unpacking, we unearthed the box of stuffed animals. I found my Hedgie. Hedgie is a hedgehog. Isn’t she adorable? I got her on a trip to Vancouver a few years ago. She’s been quietly resting a box, along with a bunch of her friends, for several years. Now she’s back on my desk where she belongs.

But the cats didn’t rest much last night. We bought some new inserts for this type of cat scratcher. Basically they’re corrugated cardboard, but, well, anything that saves the furniture is all good. The humans didn’t open the package. The cats went wild during the night. There was a tiny package of catnip wedged between the two scratcher refills. Score!

If you want a more bookish score, there are still a few brief hours left to get in on the New Year’s Blog Hop. The prize here at Reading Reality is a $10 Amazon Gift Card. It might make a dent in your wish list.

What happened last week on the blog? Funny you should ask…

13 for 2013: A Baker’s Dozen of My Most Anticipated Reads
New Year’s Blog Hop
A- Review: The Second Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
B+ Review: Devil in the Making Illustrated Edition by Victoria Vane
B+ Review: Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov, Guest Review by Chryselle
Stacking the Shelves (29)

Now let’s look ahead to this week!

On Tuesday, Jade Kerrion will be here to talk about Double Helix, her science fiction romance series. I’ve already finished book one in the series, Perfection Unleashed, and it’s an absolute thrill ride. So yep, I’ll have a review. And there’s a giveaway as part of the tour.

Rounding out the week I’ll have reviews of Olivia Cunning’s Sinners on Tour series, Angie Fox’s first Monster M*A*S*H, Immortally Yours, and one touch of pure fantasy romance from Kathryne Kennedy’s Enchanting the Lady.

There are two tours on the horizon for the week of January 14: Blair McDowell’s Sonata and Tiffany Allee’s Heels & Heroes. And we’ll end that week with the oh-so-appropriately named Happy Endings Blog Hop.

Stay Tuned!