Review: Rock Hard by Olivia Cunning

Posted: October 6, 2014 in Reviews
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This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

I simply adored Olivia Cunning’s first Sinners on Tour book, Backstage Pass. And then I passed it off to a friend at the Hoity Toity Health Club, knowing she’d love it, too.

She did. So much that she kept it. Usually, she passes the books among other members and we all stand around and talk about them. Because, you know, that’s what you do at a health club. You talk books.

Even if she hadn’t desperately needed me to read Rock Hard, I did. How was Olivia going to follow up such a tour de force?

Well, in a sense, with more of the same. Oh, not in a negative sense. She uses the same structure: a lot of hot sex at the start, and then a taper off as the storyline takes precedence. It’s a smart move for an erotic book, as it ultimately deemphasizes the sex. And just like in Backstage Pass, there’s a lot of great sex. There’s also the Sinners. And Brian’s wife Myrna, the voice of reason and helpmeet to Jessica, Sed’s all-consuming passion.

The weaknesses – for me – come in the form of Jessica and Sed. In Backstage Passes, Sed wasn’t entirely likeable. That feeling lingered, especially when the brunt of his problems with Jessica became apparent: they don’t talk. They’re so busy protecting their pride and trying too hard, they miss out on the vital connections that make relationships work. This becomes frustrating to read, as I just wanted to reach out and grab them and shake sense into each of them. It gets worse when Sed, in particular, goes off half-cocked to fix situations he knows nothing about. It may be how some men in real life behave, but it doesn’t endear a reader to a fictional character.

As before, the details of the rock and roll lifestyle aren’t 100% accurate, but this time, it bothered me less – most likely because I was expecting it. I’d love to see Olivia find herself an expert and correct these inaccuracies in future books. It’ll make them that much stronger.

Of course, we have to talk about the sex. It’s hot, but Jessica likes it in public, and I wasn’t entirely buying the whole public sex thing. And when the video appears – like this is a spoiler? The only surprising thing is that Sed himself wasn’t behind it – the ways in which it’s handled, not by Jessica and the band, but as part of the external conflict in the book is simply not believable. The people involved really ought to know better. Their behavior is beneath them, and that’s putting it lightly.

In the end, this is a good entry in the series, but not quite as strong as its predecessor. Jessica and Sed need to talk and listen more. I hope Jessica will use that duct tape more liberally when she’s got serious situations to handle on her own, without his hot-headed interference.

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