Posts Tagged ‘Cherry Cox’

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I don’t like junkie stories. I don’t. So the fact that I liked Cherry Cox’s debut, It’s a Long Way to the Top, tells you how good it was. And I’m not saying that because Cherry and I have become friends and you’ll see more of her here at The Rock of Pages, either. We actually became friends after I realized this was a darn good book. Possibly even because of it.

Cherry Cox

It’s the story of Jackson—Jax—who is in a band called Acts of Insanity. It’s the 80s, the band could maybe possibly break out if they record a killer demo and impress label people… and Jax is gay. But since this is the homophobic ‘80s, he can’t let people know.

Including the band’s amazingly hot new singer, Harley.

Now, what that synopsis doesn’t tell you is that Jax is also a heroin addict. A high-functioning addict, but an addict just the same. And while it made me sick when he shot Harley up after Harley got roughed up by some cops, it also made sense that he would choose that particular route of pain relief. After all, it dulls Jax’s pain… why not Harley’s, too?

I think it’s the fact that Jax is high-functioning that sets this book apart from the other junkie lit books I’ve read (and hated). The other books tend to dwell on the struggle, on the descent into hell—there’s something pathetic going on in those other books. But in Cox’s world, Jax’s heroin doesn’t stop him from trying to move forward. On the one hand, he knows he has a problem. But on the other hand, he simply doesn’t care. He’s too busy. He’s got the band to take care of. He’s got relationships with people, including a friends-with-benefits woman. Yes, I said the gay man’s sleeping with a woman.

In real life, things aren’t as easy as we often make them be in fiction, and Cox really hits on the complexities of life in this novel. Jax’s sister adores him, but doesn’t always act in what’s truly his best interests. Instead, she acts in what she wants Jax’s best interests to be. Which, of course, is what people do, and which, of course, results in disasters and hurt feelings.

In the end, the band’s poised for success. It’d have been nice if Cox had ended it right there, on that cliffhanger, but she pushed it and took us into new territory. It feels forced and it took away from the high that Jax and company should have had at least a few minutes to enjoy.

Because it’s Cox’s debut, we’ll forgive her this misstep. After all, she’s been nothing but honest with the reader and hasn’t shied away from showing the complications that erupt at every second. That’s what makes it real.

But it’s also fiction, and there’s always a time to bend the truth to fit the reader’s expectations and the conventions of the genre.

Still, I can’t wait to see what comes next for Jax and company. Just when they should be riding high, they’ve been hit with another complication (really, I wish that had started the second book), and it’s one that may or may not render the whole situation thus far moot. Or does it; I can also see this opening the band up to bigger and better.

Oh, Cherry Cox. Write faster, will you?

THE GUITARIST by Lindy S. Hudis

Review by Cherry Cox

The Guitarist is a short story about ‘guitar god’ Diego Ortega, the lead guitarist in a 1980s hard rock band called Medieval Steel. (The story is set in the 80s but we only know it’s the 80s because the blurb tells us that. There is nothing in the story itself that actually frames the time period for us.)

Medieval Steel are on tour but Diego is unhappy. He has a love/hate relationship with touring and grows weary of the endless parade of brazen (and annoying) groupies who just want to get into his pants.

When the band rolls into a small unnamed town, Diego goes for a walk and spots a vintage guitar in the window of an antiquated music a store. Despite the shop owner’s warning that the instrument is cursed, Diego buys it.

Diego becomes increasingly obsessed with the guitar, and with a mysterious woman who comes into his room every night to ‘make love’ to him.

Just in case you’re intrigued by this book, I won’t go into details about the plot other than to say it’s got an unhappy guitarist, a cursed guitar that attacks people it perceives to be a threat, and a mysterious woman (Diego’s soul mate) who appears out of nowhere and becomes increasingly possessed by a wicked/evil force.

This is the kind of story that’s right up my alley; guitar gods and a hint of the paranormal, everything I love rolled into one intriguing tale. Unfortunately, and I’m going to be brutally honest here, the story didn’t turn out to be anywhere near as great as I had hoped. In fact, I was actually confused as there are things in the plot that just don’t add up. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I missed something, or maybe it’s just that the story is too clever for me to understand. Whatever the case, I didn’t get it.

Diego wants to find true love but the guitar is stopping him from experiencing true love with the mystery woman/soul mate. Unfortunately, it just seems a little too convenient and coincidental that the cursed guitar comes into Diego’s life at the very same time as his mystery woman/soul mate…

Personally, I think one of the key ingredients in a successful story is great characters. I’m not saying we have to like every character that appears in every book, we don’t. But as readers we do have to have some understanding of the reasons why characters behave the way they behave, and why they do the things that they do. I didn’t get this with Diego. I didn’t understand him, which meant I couldn’t empathize with him, which ultimately made me not really care about him.

I think the main reason for this this that the writer gives us no hint as to Diego’s backstory. This story is all about the plot, not about characterization. It’s about the ‘what’, not about the ‘why’. Even in a short story, I personally like to know about the ‘why’.

Finally, a quick word about tone and style. The writer’s simplistic style is certainly the best choice for this story as is makes for a quick and easy read. Logically, it should also make for a satisfying read; however, there’s something about the style that’s a little too clinical for me, a little too perfunctory. Consequently, I didn’t get swept up in the story. I didn’t lose myself in the time, the place, or the characters, which is disappointing because like I said, this book had a bunch of elements that I love in a good read.

Let’s welcome author Cherry Cox back to The Rock of Pages! She’s got a review of a book that’s not hers, and we hope she’ll hang around this place and help us get through the ever-growing list of Rock Fiction that needs love, attention, and reviews.

Without further ado:

ILLUMINATION by Rowan Speedwell

Review by Cherry Cox

One night while he’s on tour, Adam Craig, a jaded, drunken rock star, jumps into a cab and tells the driver to take him to Indian Lake. Once there, he wanders onto the lakeside property owned by the anxiety-ridden, agoraphobic calligrapher Miles Caldwell and proceeds to make himself at home. The next morning, Miles discovers Adam sound asleep on his patio and the seeds of romance are sown.

The overarching theme of this book is the ‘unattainability of desires’. Both main characters yearn for things that seem beyond their control or reach. In-the-closet Adam yearns for some authenticity in his life, for some kind of genuine connection, and Miles is painfully crippled by his anxieties.

Much of the plot takes place in one location, given Miles’s inability to leave his home. This creates a bit of problem when Adam is forced to return to work in the band. Unfortunately, with the lovers now separated, the plot slows down and loses some important momentum.

The writer has an easy-going style and the book was a quick, easy read. However, I feel that the author may have been in two minds about how to categorize this story and so crammed it into Rock Fiction simply because the main character is a rock star. In reality, I feel this book is really about Miles. Miles specializes in illustrated manuscripts, and the book is called ILLUMINATION. There is very little to do with Adam and his band.

Despite the fact that the characters are well-drawn, I have to admit that I wasn’t all that invested in them. I suspect this comes from the fact that there is little to no development of Adam and Miles’s romantic relationship before they hit the sheets. It really is a matter of fuck first, ask questions later. In fact, it is so quick, it’s unrealistic. However, I pressed on and read to the end.

So, what did I think overall? Well, personally I like a little more depth in my plot, and little more ‘rock’ in my ‘rock stars’. And while I didn’t add ILLUMINATION to my list of all-time greats but I didn’t abandon it either.

About Cherry:

Ever since reading her first rock fiction book Cherry Cox has been hooked. More so, she loves m/m rock fiction. Cherry is the author of IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP. Available now on Amazon & iTunes.

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So into my inbox pops a new-to-me author about to launch her first book, It’s a Long Way to the Top. It’s a male-male story, so it wasn’t for Jett, and let me tell you. I’m halfway through it and it is totally  knocking my socks off. Unless something happens between now and the end, expect another Rock of Pages Recommended Read!


Cherry was kind enough to send me the following blurb, and I’m more than pleased to post it for you.


Cherry Cox 

What’s it like to be a young, hot, talented, yet gay guitar god in a world that isn’t ready for gay?


Step back in time to 1985 where sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll rule the Sunset Strip, and where Jackson ‘Jax’ Reed and his band Acts of Insanity are forging their place in rock ’n’ roll history.


What can I say? I love rock music. I’ve always loved music. I’ve always loved rock music. Many years ago I even tried my luck as a vocalist in several rock music bands. The lifestyle was killer. Literally. It was hard on my mind and my body. It was also one of the greatest times of my life.


Fast forward to 2011. I was loading up my e-book reader with material to read on a long overseas journey when I came across my very first romance/erotica rock fiction book. And I was blown away. I’d just found a new passion. Subsequently, I downloaded all the romance/erotica rock fiction I could find.


I also knew I had to write my own story. And so I started tinkering with IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP.


IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP takes a behind the scenes look at a band navigating their way through the industry, and at a lead guitarist who is struggling with his sexuality.



“Well, let me tell you this rock star – the world isn’t ready for a gay guitar god, you understand me? The world isn’t ready for gay. One word of this gets out, one whiff of suspicion, and it’s over. Do you understand that?”



Melissa Cleeman, Senior Editor at Busy Bird Publishing, had this to say:


Raw, sexy, electrifying. A world where music is God and Rock n’ Roll is a religion, Cherry Cox delivers the sounds, smells and tastes that is the 80s rock era.

Jax is an unforgettable character, leading you down the dark slivers of the industry as he struggles to accept himself in a world that’s not yet ready to. I swayed from wanting to comfort him, slap him, jam with him, and fuck him.

Cox has captured the sexual tension and chemistry between Jax and Harley brilliantly, leading the way for a partnership that has to succeed in more ways than one. Each scene made me feel like I was there in the moment, whether that was being part of the band and playing music, to being in the corner of a seedy bar, reeking of booze and itching for my next fix.

Acts of Insanity paves the way to a new genre, where rock and sex come together in a spectacular way. I can’t remember the last time I read a story where I was so emotionally invested in the characters, and their plight, I just kept coming back for more!



Now, a year after I began tinkering with the concept, IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP has finally hit the shelves. If you want a real, raw, and gritty story about sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll, if you want to know about Jax’s journey, then IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP is the answer to your rock fiction prayer.


But be warned, it is not for the faint-hearted.


Available Rocktober 21 – KINDLE, AUDIO, PRINT & iBOOK


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