Susan Griscom was nice enough to send a digital copy of her book, Beautifully Wounded, and let me start by saying it’s a good read. But it’s not RockSusan Griscom was nice enough to send a digital copy of her book, Beautifully Wounded, and let me start by saying it’s a good read. But it’s not Rock Fiction.
Why not? Well, because it takes more than a scene with a woman playing a guitar and talk about making music to be Rock Fiction. To cross the line into Rock Fiction, music has to permeate the book somehow. It’s got to be central, but in Beautifully Wounded, what’s central is the struggle of Lena to get away from her abusive husband, emotionally as well as physically.
That part of the book is well done, near as I can tell. I wonder if someone who’s escaped an abusive husband would agree ’cause maybe, Lena falls for Jackson too fast. But maybe Lena’s one of those women who needs to be in a relationship. And that’s the biggest problem I have with this book: Lena’s needy and in denial about it. Oh, and she’s not terribly screwed up by the abuse. You’d think she would be, right?
But there’s a sweetness to this book. It unfolds slowly, like the author’s taking care of us the same way Jackson takes care of Lena. Not slow like it’s draggy and hard to keep reading. It’s actually leisurely and pretty much just right. Oh, sure, there’s the cliché confrontation at the end, but c’mon. What other end can there be when you’re dealing with an abusive spouse? How else can there be closure?
Real life isn’t that neat, but that’s why fiction is good stuff. Sometimes, it’s good to know it can be, and it fits this book pretty well.
I’d say this one’s worth a read but not if you’re looking for Rock Fiction. ...more
There may not be a better example of the bodyguard trope in romance than the classic Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner movie.
Count on Lorelei James to crThere may not be a better example of the bodyguard trope in romance than the classic Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner movie.
Count on Lorelei James to create a book that goes toe-to-toe with a movie – and might even top it. Hillbilly Rockstar is the name of it, and it's the newest entry into her Blacktop Cowboys series.
I suspect that we've met both Liberty Masterson and Devin McClain in previous Blacktop novels. I'm a shameful James fan and haven't read more of the series. But it doesn't matter, as this is the novel in which they both get to shine.
The premise is classic. Devin's got security issues, and his people hire Liberty's people. I mean, hello? How else can this storyline get started? We know this about the bodyguard trope. There's not a lot of way around it. The magic here is what happens once the two start working together, Liberty pretending to be his personal assistant and not minding – much – the sneers of a band who think they know better.
Blue streak in her hair or no, Liberty's no groupie.
So the story is really about how their romance comes about. In fact, Devin's security threats are almost a second thought as the story unfolds, and that's perfectly okay. This isn't meant to be a romantic suspense, which it would become if the threat to Devin was more serious.
Really, what can you say? It's delicious watching Liberty and Devin fall in love. If anything, I'd argue this is more Liberty's story than Devin's; she's the rounder, more real character. There's further for her to go before she can overcome her past scars. From clothing to career to learning to care, this is her journey. Devin, he just has to quit with the groupies – which he has – and take care of his band. Which he, largely, does. He has that over-the-top charisma that makes a really good rock star, and it's tempered with more than a streak of introvert to him. But this means there's also less of a path for him to follow in order to grow; at the end, he's not much different from the man he was at the beginning.
But oh, who cares? I mean, we could make that same claim about Kevin Costner, right?
Where Hillbilly Rockstar gains the edge, though, is the racy stuff. Woo whee, this is author James' strength. I know there are hordes of readers who pick up her books just for her knowledge of the fun stuff that can transpire between a man and a woman in a bedroom, and it's hard to fault them for that. James is an author who can create amazing characters you'd like to have populate your real life. Her settings are fully researched – I can't find a single fault with the rock and roll details in Devin's life (although I did have a few questions for my cadre of experts, especially about the venues as the tour progressed) – and the plotlines plausible.
Really, why this woman isn't on the best-seller lists – all of them, and for months and years on end – I don't know. Then again, when I look at some of the drek that does make it, well, there's no accounting for taste.
Skip those. Spend time with Lorelei James. ...more