Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Book CoverLynneC’s review of Sex, Gossip and Rock and Roll by Nicola Marsh
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Presents 4 Oct 11/Mills and Boon Riva 6 May 11

I love me a good rock star, so the title and the cover picture on this book got me all excited. Perhaps Mills and Boon had relented and allowed that rock stars can be alpha. No such luck. The hero of this book is Luca, who is a finance manager, and the heroine is Charli, the manager of the tour of an aging rock star. Sigh.

The title is more than a bit misleading, since rock is only a lightly drawn background and there is no gossip at all.

Luca is compared favourably against the rock star, but, really, would you take a finance man over the likes of Mick Jagger, Duff McKagan, and Bruce Dickinson? Really? Nah, a rock star has a louche, decadent attraction that a finance manager just can’t compete with. At one point Charli, the heroine, describes rock stars as skinny and pale. Really? That’s the cliché, not the reality.

Whatever. The rock star featured in this book, Storm Varth, is on a comeback tour, and he plays “hits” and “medleys,” making him sound like something out of the Ark. I didn’t find the portrayal realistic or convincing. He’s a cliche, not a real character. Most rock stars have actual talent, for instance, and certainly the ones that last for a long time do. Storm is more a figure of fun, and I don’t really get a feel for him. He’s a caricature, and he releases CDs instead of albums (the difference being, of course, that downloads are as important as CDs these days). The tour is also the place where the money is made these days, not the albums. Everything has changed recently, even in the world of dinosaur rock.

Niggling apart, I did find the read a little tedious, but that might have been the fault of my toothache as much as anything else. I know we’re supposed to be impartial, but it wouldn’t be fair not to admit that I read this book in the throes of raging toothache.

I put aside the toothache, my disappointment in the sketchy background, and the preconceptions that Harlequin had evoked and got on with the read.

Luca and Charli both have commitment issues and even involvement issues. That makes for a frustrating read, as they spend nearly the whole book dancing around each other, refusing to commit, coming close, backing off. What’s more, their commitment issues are caused by their childhoods, Luca after he was rejected by his father and Charli after her no-good mother went off. I’m finding the “My mother made me into a wimp,” and “My father made me into a bastard” tropes increasingly tiring, and they are serving as an easy excuse for the premise of the story. How about making the characters their own people, taking responsibility for their own lives, and creating something rich and full? Writers for this line (Caitlin Crews, Kate Hewitt, Sarah Morgan) have shown it can be done.

And, throughout, they keep on referring to their horrible childhoods, until I want to scream, “Get over it, already!” Everything is blamed on that. And they knew and used it as a crutch. If their backgrounds affect them that much, then maybe they should have gone to a shrink for help. In fact, I’m not sure their relationship would last an awful long while, despite the happy ending in the book. They still didn’t seem to be over it.

If this book had instead a sexy rock star hero and a manager heroine and showed an understanding of rock music, I would have loved it to pieces. As it is, I’m a bit lukewarm.

LynneCs iconGrade: C


In all her time as premier tour manager to Australia’s stars, Charli Chambers has never had someone as infuriating – or delectable! – as successful businessman Luca Petrelli along for the ride. He might always be in the gossip columns, but there’s no way she’s letting him claim VIP status! But Luca’s wicked eyes are just too tempting…

In spite of herself Charli’s soon attending after-parties – just for two. She wants to believe this is one duet that’s about to go platinum, but in spite of Luca being unprintably good in bed can she ever get close enough to the real Luca for their fling to be more than just a one-hit wonder?

Read an excerpt.