04 April 2011

REVIEW: Rock Hard by Olivia Cunning

Olivia Cunning
Publisher Name: Sourcebooks/Casablanca
Date Released: April 2011
Genre: Erotica Contemporary Romance
Price: $14.99 U.S. Retail
Book Format: Print
Pages: 448


An ultimatum can break your heart . . .

Every night lead singer Sed Lionheart whips thousands of women into a frenzy of desire with his voice alone. But no other man can touch Jessica the way he did . . .

If you’re not willing to break all the rules . . .

It shattered her heart, but law student Jessica broke off her engagement with Sed, determined to be successful on her own terms. But no other man can ever hold a candle to Sed . . .

Then a chance meeting and torturously close quarters lead to uncontrollable flares of passion and rediscovery of their unique penchant for public encounters. Now, in addition to the risk of mutual heartbreak every time they get together, they’re in danger of truly scandalous public exposure . . .


The cover is sexy. Though it's not the cover on the copy I have. I liked that cover better. Love that it has a couple on it instead of used the classic man titty cover.


Jessica was the happiest woman on the planet. Life could not have been more perfect. She snuck up behind Sed, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed his ear. “Hey, baby, guess what?”


I first became interested in Ms. Cunning from the buzz on Twitter. I finally caved in and purchased her first release with my hard earned money. If you happen to be a follower of my blog, you know that this is something that I try to avoid as much as possible. I was surprised with how much I liked the first release, especially considering that Backstage Pass didn’t have the hero/heroine character development I typically require in my erotic romance. Even so, I quickly became hooked on the premise. An intimate look inside the going on of a famous rock band, I was captivated and eagerly looking forward to the next release.

I managed to beg, borrow, and steal and got my hands on a copy of ROCK HARD and eagerly began reading. And I didn’t like it. Well to clarify, I couldn’t get into the first two-thirds of ROCK HARD but I loved the ending. I’ll try to explain my feelings in an articulate manner, but forgive me if I fail miserably.

I had a hard time connecting with Jessica and Sed as a couple. Imagine reading a romance about two immature people. It wasn't fun. I didn't like them as a couple or individually. Even with all the smexing going on, I just didn’t care. Sed went back and forth between being a controlling jerk and a doormat. A weird combinition I know. To explain, he wanted to control Jessica's entire life (which is why she left him to begin with). Then once they are back together, he knows Jessica is using him, but he just lets himself be used. Then when he tries to fix situations (when things blow up for them) though no fault of his own, he takes Jessica's crap. Did I confuse you? I know, try reading ROCK HARD and you'll know what I mean.

I can't explain Sed without explaining some of the plot, but this isn't spoilers. Jessica wanted to go to law school. Sed refused to let her. He tells her if she goes to law school, he's leaving her. So Jessica leaves him. Sed finds her two years later working at a strip club (her scholarship has run out and she's dancing to earn money for her tuition). He throws a hissy fit, causes a fight, and she gets fired. They get thrown together and Sed is determined to win her back, but not once does he acknowledge that he was wrong for not backing her dreams when she backed his. Not once. Let me say that again. Not once does he apologize for not respecting her and her dreams.

Maybe he couldn't respect her, because Jessica didn't inspire respect? At least not for me. I just didn’t connect with her. I didn’t understand her motivation. She was determined to make it on her own, without Sed. But the moment she sees Sed she falls into his arms and has sex with him (while he's wearing a condom another woman put on him). She's so busy spouting out that she's a strong, independent woman who doesn't need him, yet she's letting herself be used as a sex toy.

I’m confusing you again aren’t I? I know I am. After Sed gave Jessica an ultimatum and she left, Sed told the band a lie about why Jessica walked away and as a result Brian (the hero from the first book) can’t stand her. Not once does Jessica put on her big girl panties and cuss him and Sed out and stand up for herself. She feels guilty for leaving. I'll say that again. She feels guilty for leaving Sed when Sed didn't support her dreams, while she was traveling around supporting his. Of course, this gave me several are you freaking kidding me moments. I was very, very, very angry while reading a good majority of the book.

Normally, this is the point of the book where I put the book down and read something else. However, I kept reading. The reason I kept reading was because of the strong secondary charecters (i.e., the other band members). I was invested in their stories. And their stories and side plots were compelling and I can't wait to read their books. However, I don't think I'd be compelled enough to spend my money on their books when they are released. I'm scared that the main story thread (the romance between the hero and heroine) will take a back burner like it did in ROCK HARD. As you might be aware, I get annoyed when I care more about the side characters of a novel than I do about the hero and heroine.

I've spent a lot of time complaining about ROCK HARD and I apologize. Once, Jessica finally stood up for herself and Sed grew some balls and some humanity (after over two hundred pages)  I found myself really enjoying the rest of ROCK HARD. In the end Jessica and Sed really redeemed themselves. Their motivations and conflict became clearer and I was able to relax and enjoy the story.

Borrowed from one of my Twitter buddies.


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4 people posted their 2 cents:

Mandi said...

I agree with a lot that you say. This couple just did not appeal to me.

I do enjoy the bandmates and how they interact with each other.

Hoping #3 will be better!

Marq said...

I had the same issues. Jessica was 100% unappealing. I love the band members. They kept the book interesting.

MamaKitty said...

Hmm. Doesn't sound like a book that I'd like much... even if it does deal with someone in a band (I'm a sucker for a guy who plays an instrument... PK plays bass & guitar). The girl who's so back and forth about being a strong woman and falling into bed with the guy who tried to walk all over her dreams doesn't sound like my cuppa either. I might give it a shot for the secondary characters though...

Lynette said...

I am glad that I wasn't the only one who felt this way. It just didn't work for me. The secondary charecters carried the story and that annoyed me.

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