Rockin’ Reads Giveaway Hop

Rockin Reads Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Rockin’ Reads Giveaway Hop. This hop is organized by The Herd Hops and hosted by Herding Cats & Burning Soup.

Everyone needs a Rockin’ Read! Stop by Sept 23rd to 30th and find out which reads have rocked 2015 for us! There will be a giveaway on each blog so don’t forget to visit them all!

With a picture like that,I can’t help but think of Rock Star romances that have rocked my world this year. (And one that I’m very much looking forward to this year!)

rock redemption by nalini singhMy current rock star romance addiction is Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss series. I got into it because I love her Psy-Changeling series, and wanted to see how she did with a completely contemporary romance. I love Psy-Changeling, but her Guild Hunter series (the one with the angels) just didn’t wow me for some reason. Rock Kiss, on that other hand, is a marvelously guilty pleasure. I really liked Rock Addiction and Rock Courtship and absolutely loved Rock Hard . I can’t wait to sink my teeth into Rock Redemption next month.

For other variations on the rock star romance theme, there’s Olivia Cunning’s incredibly hot Sinners on Tour series, starting with Backstage Pass. For a view of the rock stars when they get back home, Lauren Dane’s Hurley Boys are a real treat. (Start with the marvelously titled (The Best Kind of Trouble)  And for the rock star romance with a mystery twist, you can’t go wrong with Rhys Ford’s Sinners series, starting with Sinner’s Gin.

There’s even a paranormal rock star romance series. (Probably more than one). But my favorite bite at this particular apple is Nico Rosso’s Demon Rock series, starting with Heavy Metal Heart.

So what’s your favorite rock star romance, or which book rocked your world this year?

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For more fabulous bookish prizes, be sure to check out the other stops on the hop!

Review: Broken Open by Lauren Dane

broken open by lauren daneFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Hurley Boys #2
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: December 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Beyond passion. And beyond their control…

Five years ago, Tuesday Eastwood’s life collapsed and left her devastated. After an empty, nomadic existence, she’s finally pieced her life back together in the small Oregon town of Hood River. Now Tuesday has everything sorted out. Just so long as men are kept for sex, and only sex…

Then she met him.

Musician and rancher Ezra Hurley isn’t the man of Tuesday’s dreams. He’s a verboten fantasy—a man tortured by past addictions whose dark charisma and long, lean body promise delicious carnality. But this craving goes far beyond chemistry. It’s primal. It’s insatiable. And it won’t be satisfied until they’re both consumed, body and soul…

My Review:

best kind of trouble by lauren daneI read Broken Open immediately after I finished The Best Kind of Trouble (reviewed here), and I have to say that I liked Open much better than Trouble. The crisis in both stories is precipitated by the guy acting like an idiot, but Ezra’s brand of idiocy in Open felt more organic to the character as he had been through the whole book. Paddy’s moment of complete WTF’ery in Trouble came out of left field (far left field) for this reader, but Ezra had been cruising for that particular brand of bruising throughout the book.

The relationship between Ezra Hurley and Tuesday Eastwood (nee Easton) begins in Trouble. When they meet, everyone can see the heat between them, including Ezra’s brother Paddy and Tuesday’s best-friend and sister-from-another-mother Natalie Clayton. It’s only a matter of time until these two get together.

Tuesday and Ezra are both equally wounded, and their very different wounds were inflicted at the same time. Five years ago, Tuesday lost her young husband to cancer. It’s taken all of those intervening five years to grieve, let go and start moving forward with her life.

Tuesday is not moving “on”. A part of her will always love the late and much-lamented Eric, but she’s still alive and starting to live again. Her late/ex in-laws are abusive pieces of work who want to hold her back for their own emotional gratification, and Tuesday is still in the process of kicking them to the curb. But her life continues, and the new, strong Tuesday is ready to make some changes.

Five years ago, Ezra was a rock and roll star on the road with his brothers, in their successful band Sweet Hollow Ranch. Then Ezra descended into heroin addiction and nearly pissed it all away. A year as an addict, a year in rehab and sober living, and the last few years producing the group’s music and otherwise sticking close to his family ranch. Running the ranch grounds him, and he needs that. Possibly he always will.

But Ezra and Tuesday are both ready to reach out for more than just a series of one-night stands. For both of them, their relationship is a second chance at life, not just love. The longer and hotter they burn for each other, the more they also get entwined in each other’s lives.

It’s not just sex, not that the sex isn’t fantastic. But Ezra and Tuesday fit each other’s broken places in a way that just works.

The problem is that while Tuesday has found happiness and healing in her growing relationship with Ezra, Ezra fears that he is substituting one addiction for another. He keeps walling himself away, fully convinced that Tuesday can do much, much better than a recovering addict and ex-rock star.

Tuesday finally has to tell him to either get over his shit and forgive himself, or just plain go so she can’t get over him. And just like his brother Paddy, Ezra very nearly blows his best chance at happiness by not getting out of his own way.

Escape Rating B+: A part of me wants to say that this is a “sex into love” story, but that isn’t quite right. Although Ezra and Tuesday’s relationship starts out with a lot of hot sex, that isn’t what really begins things. They have explosive chemistry from their very first meeting, and for a while they both resist it for very different reasons. At the same time, they keep running into each other because his brother is in a relationship with her BFF/house mate. They can’t avoid each other.

They are both realistically gun-shy of a relationship. Tuesday’s not sure she’s ready to open her heart again, and Ezra doesn’t think he deserves to be happy. So they ease into it slowly, using hot sex as a kind of emotional lubricant. Eventually they find themselves in so deep that there is no option but to admit that they love each other.

But while Tuesday has reached a place of healing where she is sure what she wants, Ezra backslides. He has a definite problem finding the line between doing things that feel good and doing things that feel too good. It’s part of how he got hooked. He’s afraid, realistically so, that he might have substituted an addiction to Tuesday for his addiction to heroin.

He also thinks he’ll be making up for his horrible mistakes to his family for the rest of his life. He doesn’t see, or can’t see, that he really has redeemed himself in their eyes. He feels as if his actions were unforgivable. But he is so unlike Natalie’s dad in Trouble. Her father is an addict who never sincerely owns his own actions, so he can’t get out of the trap of addiction.

Ezra maybe owns his actions a bit too much. He also, like Tuesday, needs to move forward from his past.

Ezra is very firmly in the mold of romance heroes who decide for their heroines that the woman can do much better than himself, and tries to asshole his way out of the picture. Of course it doesn’t work. Tuesday calls him on his shit. She knows she will survive if he leaves, but she’d rather he crowbar his head out of his ass and move forward with her. But she is willing to walk away if he won’t, and that felt right.

Part of the crisis in this story revolves around the parents of Tuesday’s late husband. They are slime. They alienated Eric while he was alive, and now want Tuesday to wallow in guilt because he’s dead. There is also a big dose of racism in their hatred of Tuesday. It was marvelous watching her stand up to them, and Tuesday’s mother reveals herself as a kick-ass heroine in her own right. Every daughter should have a mother like Diana Easton in her corner.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane

best kind of trouble by lauren daneFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hurley Boys #1
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: August 26, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

She has complete control… and he’s determined to take it away

A librarian in the small town of Hood River, Natalie Clayton’s world is very nearly perfect. After a turbulent childhood and her once-wild ways, life is now under control. But trouble has a way of turning up unexpectedly—especially in the tall, charismatically sexy form of Paddy Hurley….

And Paddy is the kind of trouble that Natalie has a taste for.

Even after years of the rock and roll lifestyle, Paddy never forgot the two wickedly hot weeks he once shared with Natalie. Now he wants more… even if it means tempting Natalie and her iron-grip control. But there’s a fine line between well-behaved and misbehaved—and the only compromise is between the sheets!

My Review:

I love the idea of a librarian as the heroine of a romance. There has always been way more going on in the stacks than our image in the public consciousness would lead one to believe.

I also love the idea of a rock star romance. It is possibly everyone’s fantasy at some point in their lives to get swept away into the glittering world of the rich, famous and supremely talented. While it may not be a good idea in real life, as a fantasy, it definitely works.

And parts of The Best Kind of Trouble worked really well, while other parts fell a little flat.

The story also reminded me an awful lot of Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh (reviewed here). This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Both stories feature the same type of characters, a librarian with tons of control issues because of serious shit in her past, and a rock star who won’t take no for an answer when it comes to starting a relationship in spite of two sets of very heavy baggage.

About The Best Kind of Trouble…this is the first book in Dane’s Hurley Boys series, and it is pretty obvious from the beginning that every one of the brothers is going to get their HEA by series end. It helps that they already have two fine examples in their midst. Their parents’ marriage is rock solid and clearly a strong love match, but one of the four brothers, Damien, has already found his Ms. Right and married her.

lush by lauren daneMary Hurley has become the center of the new family dynamic that the brothers are creating. I was about to say that I wish we had their story, but we do. It’s Lush, book 3 of Dane’s Delicious series. Oh well, throw another book on the towering TBR pile.

Dragging myself back to The Best Kind of Trouble. Again.

This is a second chance at love story, and it looks like the rest of the series will be also, for various definitions of second chances. In the case of Patrick (Paddy) Hurley and Natalie Clayton, when they run into each other in a coffee shop in Hood River, it isn’t the first time they met.

Way back when, when the band was still playing dive bars and Natalie was still in high school, they spent two torrid weeks together. They were both underage, and they were both so hot for each other that they couldn’t keep away.

That was a long time ago. Natalie got her act together and finished high school, college and graduate school while ditching her wild party ways and wild party days. She got control of her life and she wants to keep it that way.

The Hurley Brothers band made it big. They’re all rock stars and they’re all filthy rich. They’ve also learned the high cost of fame and fortune, and when they are home in Hood River, they help their parents run the ranch.

Paddy wants to see if he and Natalie can have more between them than just their still smoking hot chemistry. Natalie isn’t sure whether she wants to be anywhere near Paddy’s wild and crazy rock and roll life, but she still wants to be with him.

And they both have all too many buttons to push when it comes to fame, fortune, and the high cost of being famous. Whether they can manage to work around each other’s scar tissue is a question that only time and working on their relationship every day has a chance of solving.

Until all the shit hits all the fans and Paddy throws away the best thing he ever had. Even his famous charm may not be enough to help him get out of the huge hole he’s dug himself into. And maybe it shouldn’t.

Escape Rating B: Having read both Rock Addiction and The Best Kind of Trouble, it is hard for me not to compare the two. That being said, in reality the one had nothing to do with the other, the two books were published within two weeks of each other last fall, and they couldn’t have influenced each other directly.

But they are similar in an awful lot of ways, to the point where as I read Trouble I kept thinking about Addiction.

Also, The Hurley Brothers series is clearly a spinoff of both Dane’s Brown Family series and her Delicious series. I haven’t read either of those (yet!) but the references to previous events are mostly minor. It didn’t feel necessary to have read them to enjoy The Best Kind of Trouble.

The romance between Natalie and Paddy burns very, very hot. Natalie may seem buttoned up on the outside, but her wild side is still very much alive in her private moments. It’s just that she has reached a point in her life where she needs to keep her private stuff very private, including all the bad crap in her psyche about her addict-father, her runaway mother and her cold and emotionally manipulative grandmother.

Natalie is a classic poor little rich girl. She inherited a trust fund, but she raised herself in well-to-do-suburb where her house was filled with her dad’s addict friends and there was always puke on the floor and the furniture had all been sold to pay for drugs. He’s been in, and dropped out, of the 12-step program so many times that Natalie no longer believes his amends, especially since they are always half-assed in the first place.

broken open by lauren daneShe’s cut off her birth family as much as she can. Her real family are her college friends, especially the absolutely awesome Tuesday Eastwood. (I’m so happy that Tuesday got her own book, Broken Open, because she so deserves it).

Natalie has a lot of bad baggage, and Paddy keeps tripping over it. The development of their relationship hinges on her learning to tell him when something feels wrong instead of just running away. But Natalie is very big on handling her own bad stuff, even if she can’t handle it alone.

The crisis in the story hinges on a huge misunderstandammit. It also involves Natalie’s horrible family. But it isn’t Natalie who goes off the rails, it’s Paddy. And the way he explodes doesn’t really make much sense in context. He acts like an asshole and tells Natalie to leave. She tries to discuss the problem with him and he turns away. Then she leaves.

I felt for her and also felt like she did the right thing. Staying and begging for scraps of attention and understanding in those circumstances felt wrong. Natalie is good, sometimes too good, at owning her shit. In this case, her best option was to own it and take it home with her. Which she does.

Eventually Paddy figures out just how big an ass he’s been, and starts groveling. I’m glad they found their HEA but still not sure Natalie made him grovel nearly enough.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

Rock Addiction by Nalini SinghFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Rock Kiss, #1
Length: 356 pages
Publisher: TKA Distribution
Date Released: September 9, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

My Review:

I love Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series, but I’ll admit to being ‘meh’ about the Archangels series. So I picked up Rock Addiction to see how I would feel about her writing in a non-magical contemporary romance.

The story gets jumpstarted in a way that left me wondering if my ebook had lost a few pages in the beginning. Molly and Fox’s romance begins with the instantest insta-lust I’ve read in a long time, maybe ever.

They see each other across the proverbial crowded room, and he decides to pick her up. He waylays her in the elevator and talks her into a one-night stand. It doesn’t take much talking, either. Fox is a rock star on an epic scale, and Molly is a librarian.

Being a librarian myself, the whole concept of this story has elements of wish fulfillment/fantasy; mild-mannered librarian sweeps rock god off his feet, and he whisks her away to his sex, drugs and rock and roll, over-the-top lifestyle of the rich and famous.

We librarians aren’t all mild-mannered, and neither is Molly. Also Fox doesn’t do drugs, and the life of a rock star who intends to be good to the music requires a lot more rigor and dedication than an outsider might imagine, at least according to this story.

It’s hard work to be good at anything, and that includes music. Also, the constant touring is exhausting and draining, no one ever gets to really relax or be offstage and out of reach. But it’s the price they pay for the music.

Fox and Molly connect instantly on every level, including (especially including) sex. Molly gives her virginity in a one-night stand with a rock star that she never expects to see again. While Fox makes it obvious to the reader that he intends more than just one night, Molly doesn’t know that. It took way too little convincing for Molly to jump into bed with Fox under those circumstances, unless it was all about his status and not the connection.

There are a lot of sex scenes in this book, in every chapter and seemingly multiple times. To the point (for this reader) that the sex got in the way of the story. These are two people who both carry a TON of emotional baggage, and for their relationship to go even half as smoothly as it did, there seemed to be a lot of communication missing until the second half of the book.

Fox’s abandonment by his mother is only one part of the tragedy. The scandal that surrounded the end of her father’s political career, criminal prosecution, and death left Molly with scars so bad that she changed her name to escape the relentless harassment and bullying.

In between all of the sex, it is sweet the way that Fox and Molly manage to overcome the scars they both have, and create a loving relationship that is capable of withstanding the relentless pressure of the media. They are attacked and hounded, and yet they still find a way to forge something strong and beautiful.

The second half of the book, showing the way that they manage to find a way through, together, was both hot and extremely romantic.

Escape Rating B+: The second half of the book is stronger than the first. By that point, Molly and Fox are actually communicating enough out of bed for the reader to believe that they are building a relationship. We see them work through their issues and the adversity that threatens them, and are able to root for them to make it together.

We are also able to see the way the Molly and Fox’s relationship builds a family for his entire band, and see just how much the members of Schoolboy Choir care for each other, and rely on each other. The glimpses into the relationship between drummer David and Molly’s sister Thea are tantalizing. I can’t wait to read their full story in Rock Courtship.

I also hope that we will someday get the full story behind whatever is going on with Molly’s best friend Charlie and her boss, T-Rex. While a relationship between a boss and his admin is a classic trope, it’s classic for a reason.

As far as Rock Addiction goes, I love the concept of normal girl gets rock star. It has a wish fulfillment aspect that is irresistible. I wish that their relationship had a little more communication in it, and not quite as many sex scenes. Each scene was individually good (terrific) and very hot, but they got in the way of the plot.

I was surprised that there was no “big bad” or truly scary and possibly break-up worthy crisis. There’s a crisis, but Molly and Fox weather it with a bit too much ease. I was glad they did, but it just didn’t seem like as much of a test as I would have expected.

But their happy ending was very special and very much earned. And I raced through the book in an afternoon in order to get there!

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.