Posts Tagged ‘worth the read’

avatar S RED

It’s difficult to take a cast of unlikeable characters and make the reader care about them. Not all readers are willing to rise to the challenge, and that’s okay. The payout for those of us who are is bigger somehow.

Lisa Marie Perry has a cast of some tough characters. All of them are morally deficient in one way or another; all of them have seriously fatal flaws. In fact, it’s hard to believe this was published by one of the big houses, but it was. Good for them.

The set-up is pretty fascinating: the central player here isn’t a person so much as a record label. And we can argue the usefulness and relevance of record labels until the Spotify Premium’s up for renewal, but that’s not what Sin For Me is about. It’s about the people who used to control it (Dante and Delilah) and the people who currently do (Emma, Joshua, and Chelsea)—and the betrayals and baggage that remain as Delilah wants her family’s heritage back.

That’s the big story arc. There’s also a smaller one, in that it’s about the relationship between Dante and Chelsea. There was a betrayal between them as well, and it was part of the bigger betrayal that led to the leadership change at Devil’s Music. But it’s that betrayal between Dante and Chelsea that’s just as hard, if not harder, to get past. Dante copes by leaving town and starting life at the farthest point he can get to from the glitz and glamour of the record business. Chelsea, though, isn’t so lucky. She’s stuck in the executive offices, busy self-destructing and stuck in the guilt and anger of what she and Dante did to each other, surrounded by the constant reminders of him and the family legacy that she took from him.

This is enough for a single book, sure, but there’s a couple more subplots, as well: Delilah wants to make a play to get her label back and decides to use Dante to do it; one of the label’s artists is angry and turns first rogue and then violent; and a new talent comes into the fold. And, too, there’s something going on between married Emma and Joshua, something Chelsea doesn’t understand—and neither does the audience.

It’s almost too much, except there’s something soap opera-esque going on here, and the book certainly reads well. I found I had to read in small doses because the characters are so morally vapid, I’d have to resurface just to recalibrate myself. But at the same time, it was hard to put down (yes, it’s true: the famous editor loves trashy, soap opera-esque books as much as she loves everything else her clients throw at her. Maybe more? I’m not telling!).

This, friends, is the sign of a good book. It’s a train wreck you can’t look away from, a delicious taste of something forbidden. But best of all, the book itself isn’t a train wreck. It’s well crafted and constructed, the characters are beautifully drawn, and it’s well written. The various strands of the plot are well cared for in Perry’s experienced hands, and wow, does she do a great job with it.

But if there’s one area where the book isn’t as strong, it’s in the descriptions. I wanted a better view of what these people wear—telling me the sandals are diamond-studded doesn’t really show me much—as well as how this old house has become a record label, with stairs and offices and… just how does this place lay out and work? It was hard to visualize and I had a hard time making sense of what was where.

After all the rich plotting that happens here, I really missed the rich descriptions to go with the lushness of the characters. Here’s one book that demands more than just a broad brushstroke of description. It needs to breathe the way the rest of the story does.

Even before the cliffhanger ending—I hesitate to call it a cliffhanger because it doesn’t leave us on our toes at the edge of the world so much as it merely stops, the last page gets turned and you look up and wonder where the hell the rest of it is—I was hooked on this series. Morally absent or not, I’m dying to know what comes next for our salacious crew, and how they solve the problems that have been laid out in this first volume of The Devil’s Music.
October, when the second book is released, can’t come soon enough.

*Copy from NetGalley, and thanks for it! Can’t wait for #2*

Susan dropped me a note that she’d gotten approval for the new Stina Lindenblatt novel. You know: the follow-up to This One Moment, which was a book I’d really liked. I was pretty darn excited to get my hands on My Song For You. Which band member was this going to be about?

Turns out it’s Jared’s story. He runs into the little sister of an old flame, and she’s got a kid.

Now, he looks at this kid and there’s not a flash of recognition, even though the kid apparently looks exactly like him. Not even when he grabs a picture of himself at age four, which is Logan’s age, does he get it. He keeps telling himself he never slept with Callie, so there’s no way. But he never stops to think beyond that.

Our Jared’s a little slow. Or maybe he’s distracted by Callie, who’s always had a thing for him but he never knew it. And maybe he liked Callie better than he let on, but he was busy with Callie’s older sister—and man, was he crushed when she told him she’d aborted their kid.

You guessed it, huh? Big sister Alexis lied. She had the kid and swore her family to secrecy. Not long after, Alexis and her parents died in a car accident, leaving Callie to raise her nephew, realigning her life plans and struggling to get by.

It’s a good setup, but it’s not enough. Callie and Jared don’t talk about the situation. Jared goes running to a lawyer behind everyone’s back and this lawyer dude ain’t real smart ’cause he doesn’t focus one whit on what’s best for this kid, who has no reason to think the only mother he can remember is really his aunt. And Jared? Doesn’t stop to consider Callie. He’s too busy being… well, not quite angry because he’s not passionate enough, but he’s being an idiot, that’s for sure. He wants to man up to his responsibility and that’s admirable, but he seems short on people around him who he’ll talk to, and who will widen his too-narrow viewpoint. And this includes his parents.

As for Callie, she gets scared and shuts down. And that’s how these two deal with this pretty big problem they’ve got. They don’t.

There’s not a lot of music in this book, to be honest. Jared isn’t the most dynamic character; he’s not got that charisma that Tyler/Nolan had in the first book of the series. He’s one of those guys who could be an everyman. It’s disappointing.

And so are the music details that do appear. You don’t meet with a music video director one day and begin recording the next. There’s no way this band would defy the micromanaging head of the label and change up the songs they had committed to play on a TV showcase special.

This doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good read. And okay, maybe it wasn’t good in the same way the first was. Too many chapters end the same way: with Jared telling us he’s an idiot. After the first couple, it’s a yawner. The potential for a really rich, rewarding story is there, but because Callie and Jared don’t talk through the big issues, this really readable book loses a lot of the high marks it could have otherwise had.

Let’s write this one off to a sophomore slump and hope the next in the series is about Mason, the foul-mouthed dude. Right now, he’s the guy I’m most interested in.


I’d heard a lot of great things about Melissa Foster’s books, so when she wrote a potential Rock Fiction entry into one of her series, I was all over it.


I’m not sure what the fuss is.

Now, if you like those books where things don’t ever really go wrong, where people communicate and work through small problems super easy, where it’s a love fest from the second new people meet and families come together, this is totally your thing.

And I’m not one of those people who wallows in angst, but I’d like a little bit of tension and darkness in my books, you know? But when even the truffles are described as delicious after we’ve watched more than one character talk about how good they are, you know this isn’t the world’s most realistic version of reality.

By the end, it totally grated on my nerves. And I couldn’t tell anyone apart in the huge families of Trish and Boone.
So here’s the deal: Trish is an actress who expects this version of Sid and Nancy to get her an Oscar. And she fully expects this despite the fact that she’s going to be starring opposite Boone, who’s never acted and comes off as more than a boor. We’re told he’s a rock star, but there’s nothing rock star about him, despite the fact that he plays guitar a few times. It takes more than that. More than never-voiced worries about how a rocker and an actress can make it work.

So it’s got no real conflict and it’s not Rock Fiction. We’re striking out here.

Except it’s readable and until the end, when it goes over the top in family insta-love for each other, it’s a fun and good read. Perfect for the beach or for a day in a hammock in the backyard (thanks for buying that, Dad) when you don’t want to think or do anything but go along for the ride.

Bring your own delicious truffles, though.

Pick up your copy, and as always, thanks to Rock Star Lit for the review copy. If you’ve read it and want to share your own views, drop Susan a line!

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
B&N Nook
Google Play

Softer Than Steel Teaser

I think by now, it’s well documented that I’m a huge fan of Jessica Topper. And her books, too.

So of course I got all excited when I heard of her follow-up to Louder than Love and Deeper than Dreams. And off to NetGalley I went.

Softer Than Steel, this new one is called, bucking the cliché that keeps trapping me (yes, I keep calling it Stronger and Jessica keeps correcting me). It’s the story of Rick Rottenberg—Riff Rotten to Corroded Corpse fans—and the woman who yanks him out of grief for his first wife. Her name is Sidra and right off the bat, I have a major complaint: I never got a good fix on the age difference between the two. There was something about Sidra that struck me as being in her twenties. Rick, of course, has kids that age. And among the issues that these two have to work through—Rick’s grief, his anxiety attacks, the band, Sidra’s ties to her life, past and present, and her ambition (or lack thereof) for herself—age isn’t one of them.

So these two meet in what has to be one of the best meet cutes in fiction, and let me tell you, Topper is a genius with the meet cute. Here, Sidra holds an elevator for a panicking Rick… and it’s just too good to believe. Best of all, they are nothing to each other, irritants: he’s a hustling somebody who seems to look down his nose at her; she’s going to hit up the rock star’s generosity. Right?

The mistaken identity doesn’t last long, just long enough for an awful lot of laughter at mostly Rick’s expense. But he’s troubled enough that before long, he’s found his way to Sidra’s yoga studio, desperate for relief from the demons that have spent fourteen years torturing him. Fourteen years of mourning his first wife? Really? We know Simone was a heck of a woman—there’s a song written about her, after all—but c’mon, Rotten. Time to let it go. I’m glad he found a way because dude. Getting whiny there.

By and large, that’s the whole plot. The story is one of the two coming together, and the first third is a bit problematic because it feels like every time things start to roll, the story has to come to a screeching stop so the backstory can be filled in. Backstory, I’ve learned as an editor, is a sneaky little bastard and always hard to wield effectively. But once we get that stop-and-start over with, as Rick’s yoga practice grows, so does the mindfulness of the narration and we are allowed to exist in the present moment more and more.

Is that kismet or technique? I’m not sure, and I haven’t asked Jessica. I should because it would be an interesting technique to take apart. It doesn’t entirely work, unfortunately—because I am not a fan of stop-and-start narrative or a lot of backstory, most of which we know from having read Louder. So the story keeps stopping for us to re-learn stuff we already know.

One more thing that doesn’t work as well in this one, and that’s that I felt Jessica herself didn’t know Rick and Sidra as well as she knows Adrian and Kat, the couple from Louder Than Love. (And yes, you Adrian lovers, he and Kat have plenty of well-earned time here.) Rick and Sidra take a lot longer to come to life on the page, and that works against the story—as it always does.

I almost wish the story had started later, or been framed by a flashback, so we could see them starting from that point when they stop being characters on a page and start being people we’re sorry we don’t know in real life. But if that had happened, we’d have missed the amazing first meeting. And if I’m still raving about it, you KNOW it’s good.

Now. Some things that work really really well. We know Jessica Topper is the queen of really awesome, quirky details. I have encountered very few authors who do it as well as she does, and while it’s more subtle than in Dictatorship of the Dress, it’s there. Sidra’s yoga studio is in the back of a record store, which is also an old building that used to be a bike repair shop. This place has history and has been in the Sullivan family forever, but the best revelation is that in Sidra’s studio, there is a light that she’s been ordered to leave on. Always. Don’t even try to turn it off.

Rick, good Jew that he is, recognizes the light as the ner tamid, the eternal light that shines in every Jewish synagogue—which, when you trace the building’s history back far enough, is what it, indeed, used to be. The idea of doing yoga in what used to be a sacred space for Jews is both deliciously heretical and absolutely perfect. Yoga, after all, is a way of worshipping the self, the body, the world. And Sidra and Rick find ways to worship each other under the unblinking, always watchful eye of the ner tamid. It lends a sacredness to their love, a preciousness that you don’t want to see end.

It’s also the crux of the conflict that tries to pull the two apart, and while the solution is patently obvious and not nearly clever enough to live up to Jessica’s own standards—don’t you hate setting the bar super high?—it’s the right solution. And sometimes, that trumps it all.

Overall, this isn’t quite as good as Louder than Love, but this isn’t a bad book or one to avoid or to think of as the failure in the series. Perish those thoughts! If anything, I feel like it was a premature baby, not quite ready for prime time yet but here it is, so sit back and enjoy. And, of course, since this is all about yoga and love and things eternal, remember to breathe.

Disclaimer stuff: As stated, my copy came from NetGalley, and we all know how that works. I get copy. I read copy. I review book. End of contract. Also, thanks to GossipGirls PR for including The Rock of Pages on Jessica’s book tour. We’d love to do more Rock Fiction features like this. Thanks again!


Back in Rocktober, Susan Griscom sent me a review copy of her two Beaumont Brothers books, Beautifully Wounded and Beautifully Used. Took me awhile to get through them, and I already reviewed Beautifully Wounded. I think the fact that it’s not Rock Fiction had me dragging my heels about getting Beautifully Used read … and then reviewed. I finished it awhile ago. Like a month or so.

But I take good notes. So let’s get to it:

Beautifully Used is the story of one of the minor characters in Beautifully Wounded, Jackson’s brother Brodie. Brodie’s your classic male slut and although I kept wondering why word never got out in this small town they purportedly live in about what a slut he was, the girls kept coming around. I don’t know. I’ve never been the type to seek out the easy lays, and it’s not like Brodie had the freedom to go chase tail: as a bartender, he’s pretty much locked into a fixed location. That’s why I wonder why word never got out about him.

And then, in the first book, he meets Gabrielle, the best friend of his brother’s girl. For Brodie, it’s lust at first sight, of course. Gabrielle isn’t so sure.

Which is why Lena and Jackson push them repeatedly into close quarters as they wind up essentially being the last-minute go-fers for Lena and Jackson’s wedding. Lena’s so glad to have her friend around, but in her pre-wedding Bridezilla self-obsession doesn’t spend that much time with her friend. Jackson, likewise, is absent. So it’s Gabby and Brodie and yeah, there’s no hope for them. We know they’ll be together.

The conflict comes in a way that’s too similar to the first book, too. Stalkers, confrontations in the woods, almost deaths. Brodie’s habits are less of an issue than this stalker-dude, and Gabby’s horrific past is dealt with way too easily.

While there’s more music in this one — the band goes on the road for a show, in a pretty implausible way (but it’s still fun — I have stress that. It’s fun) — it’s still not Rock Fiction. There’s not enough music, not enough of the right elements that push these people from being people into being stars. They’re just people who make music.

So. Lots of negatives here. And yeah, there are. But like the first book, this is a fun, easy read. It’s perfect for a day on the beach, a time when you want to escape into someone else’s life and see that they have it as tough, if not tougher, than you do, but at the same time, their problems aren’t insurmountable.

Not every book has to be lofty, not every book has to tackle the big issues. Sometimes, easy breezy is the way to go, and with that, Griscom delivers in spades. It’s a good escapist couple of hours, and I’m glad I read these.

Huge thanks to Susan Griscom (as opposed to our site owner, Susan) for sharing her books.


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

When I saw the review at Dear Author, I had to grab it from one of the book trading sites. Paperback Swap came to my rescue, and Kimberly Lang’s The Downfall of a Good Girl was destined to be a sneaky weekend read, the sort of Rock Fiction escapism that I was sorely in need of.

The story is about two New Orleans natives, kids who grew up with each other but who are now competing in a charity competition to raise the most cash. It reminds me of the sort of thing that Donald Trump would have his Apprentice wanna-bes do. And I like it, if only because Vivienne and Connor are doing more than merely working their networks for cash donations. They get down and dirty in the Ninth Ward, helping clean up debris that still remains, years after Katrina.

The story itself is fine. It’s the fact that Connor is supposed to be this piano crooner with a bad boy image that I don’t buy. You’d think a book with this sort of hero would be squarely in the Rock Fiction category.

It is, but only by default. I had way too many problems with Connor. First off, he seems totally generic. Part of what makes Rock Fiction so unique is that the men and women who work in the music business have an oomph to them, a special charisma that wouldn’t allow them to work in any other industry. Connor, we’re told, has a bad boy image, but we don’t really see it. In fact, he comes off as a considerate man. That’s far from being a bad boy. And it’s a little bit bland, too.

Other things bother me… like his hand problem. No, not that he has a problem with his hands—it could very well be something simple like carpal tunnel. The issue is that he never tells his smarmy manager about it. That’s not much of a relationship—or business sense—if he can’t tell her the truth about things that affect both their bottom lines.

My final quibble is about the now de rigeur scene at the piano. Does every single romance have a scene where the musical hero writes his woman a song at the piano, or as she gazes adoringly at him over his guitar? This one is particularly good, in that author Lang picks out some really spectacular details. But in the end… it’s a scene we’ve seen a million times.

So… overall, The Downfall of a Good Girl was a perfect weekend romance. Just fast enough to be a break from the rest of my regular grind, but nothing to write home about. In fact, given how disappointing it was as a work of Rock Fiction, it’s almost a better-kept secret.

One last note: I’d happily read more of Kimberly Lang’s books. The woman can write, and her eye for detail rocks. We used to correspond when she actively blogged at The Writer’s Playground and I ran Win a Book. She’s good people, and she’s a writer worth reading.

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.

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

Hot on the heels of Seduced: The Unexpected Virgin came Rachel Bailey’s Million-Dollar Amnesia Scandal. The April 2011 books at Silhouette Desire were full of Rock Fiction.

Well, okay, only two out of six (as far as I know). But that’s a full one-third. It’s got to mean something, right?

While I was disappointed in the portrayal of the music details in Seduced: The Unexpected Virgin, I most certainly wasn’t in Million-Dollar Amnesia Scandal. Perhaps that’s in part due to the main character, April Fairchild, and her amnesia.

Let me explain: the set-up for Million-Dollar Amnesia Scandal is that April has lost her memory and seems to have woken up in legal possession of a hotel. Seth Kentrell wants the hotel back.

That’s the backbone of the story. The fact that April is a world-famous jazz singer is totally secondary to the story — and that is exactly why the musical elements here work. Not to mention they seem authentic. It’s easy to buy April’s deep-seated love of playing piano, and it’s easy to relate to someone who feels a pull to something, who has half-remembered memories but can’t conjure up the other half and, thus, complete the picture. She honestly has no idea why she has woken up as a hotel owner, but she knows this particular hotel means something pretty darn special.

At it’s heart, Million-Dollar Amnesia Scandal is a romance, and Seth and April make a great pair. They are both likeable people, and maybe more importantly, they are both reasonable people. There are no lies, no accusations flung around, no wild goose chases they send each other on. April has something Seth wants, and he goes about figuring out how to get it in a very straight-forward manner.

Overall, I liked this book. So why did it take me two months to review it?

Because at the end of the day, it wasn’t particularly memorable. It was quick candy, nice to fill a day with, but not something I’d tell the whole world to go read. If you need a book to take with you on an airplane, this one is it.

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

I’d told myself I wasn’t going to do it. I wasn’t going to grab any books I saw in the library, no matter how tempting they were.

Which, of course, explains why I walked out of there with a copy of Heavy Metal and You, a 2005 novel written by Christopher Krovatin while he was a student at Wesleyan University.

His age shows, and not in a bad way. Heavy Metal and You rings with the authentic voice of a teenaged boy, trying to figure out who he is and what it’s all about.

That’s pretty much the entire plot. Sam meets Melissa, asks her out, and falls head over heels, only to find out she doesn’t like his friends, he doesn’t like hers, and she’s trying to change him in ways that, fundamentally, he’s not thrilled about. He likes going out and getting drunk and stoned and stupid with his friends. And okay, he realizes cigarettes don’t taste that great, but darn it, it should be his choice if he wants to smoke or not, not hers.

If anything, this book reminded me a bit too much in tone and voice of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Adventure, a book I loved the first time around. Not so much when it feels like I’m reading a rehash, which is really unfair to this particular book. It should be able to stand on its own. An interesting note is that Nick and Norah co-author David Levithan is thanked for being an editor and friend. Coincidence? No way!

As a work of Rock Fiction, this stands up – and so does what, for me, was the penultimate scene. It is so achingly real, it transported me back to my own youth.

Melissa, wanting to experience Sam’s world, had joined him at a general admission Deicide concert. This probably wouldn’t have been my first choice to expose a newbie to the scene, but Sam was so over the moon with his woman that it’s easy to forgive him this slight – and the one that comes next.

Hyped on the music, the adrenaline, the possibilities, and the scene, Sam grabs Melissa’s hand and pulls her into a very rough mosh pit. They are separated and by the time Sam finds Melissa again, she has been thoroughly traumatized.

Anyone who’s been in a situation where someone is a willing participant in a world that is ridiculed by most will relate to Sam and his headlong enthusiasm.

It’s the best part of the book.

Heavy Metal and You. Recommended, just for that one scene.

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

It was one of those books sitting on the TBR mountains. It was on top, so I grabbed it – and lo and behold, check out that description on the back cover. “Rock star sex-god.”

It is a book called It’s Not You It’s Me, and it’s an entry into the Red Dress Ink line. Which means chick lit, complete with sorta-hapless female and a happy ending. There is, of course, more to it than that.

Charlie is our main character – short for Charlotte – and she’s been adrift since the time she spent living with Jasper Ash. She fell for him, but it was complicated. And ugly. And something she never got over.

So when she happens to run into him, thanks to a bonk on the head in an airplane, she invites him on a holiday tour booked for her by the cool, calm, and collected woman in her chick lit life. Kath and her husband Mark are, in a chick lit twist, new parents, but they are the chick lit parent to Charlie, as well.

While Charlie and Jas gallivant around Germany on a beer-swigging tour, they rekindle their friendship. Both, of course, have secrets, big ones that they are keeping from each other. It takes a reveal of Jas’ status as rock god Zamiel – think Davie Bowie gone death metal with a healthy dose of Marilyn Manson thrown in for good measure – before the secrets are revealed and we’ve got our happy ending.

Aww, come on. That’s hardly a spoiler. This is the sort of book you pick up because you want that happy ending. The fun of the read is in how they get there.

And it’s a fun read. But is it Rock Fiction?

Kinda sorta not really maybe.

The key with Rock Fiction is that the tie-in has to be believable. And when fan girl Sharon sells Jas out and the media shows up outside their hotel room, causing Jas to call in bodyguards he (conveniently) has worked with before and who are (conveniently) available, their mad dash to safety is real enough. Maybe the aftermath is a bit breezy – no one dug too far into Charlie’s identity, but then again, this was merely a plot device. Believable? If you don’t think too much.

And that’s why we hit only kinda sorta. Jas’ career is a plot device. He couldn’t be in this situation, with the media outside threatening to reveal him, if he were a quiet, unassuming banker, unless he was a quiet, unassuming banker with a big, ugly secret. And if that were the case, he wouldn’t be free to traipse around Europe incognito.

But outside of the few trappings of fame – both the good and the bad – and the fun karaoke scene, Jas could be a quiet, unassuming banker. He’s a nice guy. He doesn’t have that over-the-top charisma that the successful ones possess, and that Rock Fiction hinges upon. It peeks out once or twice, but once or twice isn’t enough. Yet on the flip side, one of Jas’s secrets explains that he just might be successful while continuing to hide from the public eye.

Still, he lacks that charisma that a truly talented artist possesses. So does Charlie, our sculptor should-be. And while the story hinges on why she hides her art, since we’re allowed into her point of view, we should see that same charisma that brands her as an artist.

Overall, yeah, this one’s worth reading. Just don’t expect the Rock to rock that hard.