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Rise - The redemption story of a rock star going straight(er) through the love of a good(ish) woman.

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes. So bad-boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir. Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions–manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic and morally ambiguous. In short, everything she seeks in a biography subject. When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another. Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed devil is only too willing to stoke. She thought self-control was in her DNA; after all, she grew up a minister’s daughter. She thought wrong.

Rock star Zander Freedman has been an outlier–many would say an outcast–for most of his life. But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the breakup of his band to the inevitable damage to his reputation. His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph–if his golden voice holds out. Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz. Elizabeth’s integrity is the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats. All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not force him to think. Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out. And certainly not make him fall in love for the first time in his life. Turns out he is scared of something: being known.

338 pages, Paperback

First published January 14, 2015

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About the author

Karina Bliss

45 books239 followers
New Zealander Karina Bliss has written a biography for a rock star, swapped identities with her twin, raised three orphaned children with her ex husband, worn a cow costume to a Bachelor and Spinster ball, considered marriage for the sake of a baby, and been mayor of a small town.

Oh wait, that’s her characters.

Outside her imagination, she’s always been a professional writer, first as a travel journalist and then as a romance author. Her deeply held convictions include: love conquers all; yoga pants are daywear; and what a woman really wants is a man who cleans. Unfortunately, she does not live with one, (nor indeed has raised one). Please buy her books so she can pay for one.

She has also swum with sharks. They were very small. Babies, really. But still count.

Career highlights have included being the first Australasian to win a Golden Heart from the Romance Writers of America. Her debut, Mr Imperfect, won a Romantic Book of the Year Award in Australia, and her first self-published title, RISE, a rock star romance also finaled.
Other books in the Rock Solid series are FALL, PLAY and (coming soon), RESURRECTION.

Find out more and sign up to her newsletter at www.karinabliss.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarinaBlissA...
Twitter @BlissKarina
Email: karina@karinabliss.com

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 189 reviews
Profile Image for Paula M.
546 reviews643 followers
April 5, 2017
“What do you call on when life gets tough?”
“Alcohol, denial and fast women.”
She smiled. “Seriously.”
“I am serious.” Zander passed the cigarette inches under his nose to breathe in the acrid scent of tobacco, then regretfully dropped it in the trash.
“What would your answer be?”
“Prayer. Conscience. Faith,” she said without a trace of embarrassment.

You can also read my review HERE.

Two words: Zander Freedman.

Cue screaming fangirls, flailing fangirls, fangirls who deserves to be restraint. And then cue me who will crush them all because I don't care about the age difference but I call dibs on Zander Freedman. I always have a soft spot for arrogant rockstars. Too bad he already has an Elizabeth though.

I am so tempted to just talk about Zander in this review. He's a rockstar. He's a total alpha male. And he's way out of my league. But he makes my chest explode. All. the. time. He's a masterpiece. A flawed one but a masterpiece nonetheless. And Karina Bliss gave him to us. She's amazing I think I'm gonna cry. Elizabeth is also a very wonderful character. She's what I hope I'd be when I reach her age. This is how a woman should act. And I really admire her traits, her beliefs and her feistiness.

I enjoyed the bakstage pass that the author gave us the moment we read Rise. I got glimpses to what really goes on before and after the show. I'm not a rockstar and I unfortunately don't know anyone that is a rockstar but I can say that everything seems to be meticulously researched. Even Elizabeth's job were obviously planned out as well. It made me love the book more because everything looks credible.

I have no other word for the romance in here. Just.. wow. Wow! Intense, sweet, and totally tears-worthy. Karina Bliss made an unbelievable chemistry between Zander and Elizabeth. I anticipated every chapter. I enjoyed every banter. And my knees turned into jelly for how many times every time Zander turns on his charm. Oh what am I saying, it doesn't turn off!! I don't think I've ever fangirled this hard. Its not even funny.

People, you do not.. I repeat- YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS BOOK. There, on caps lock so you know I'm dead serious. This book is a page turner. I finished it for 5 hours! Rise definitely a forget-your-hunger-forget-your-bladder kind of book. Karina's brilliant mind made a heart melting and intense romance that I'm sure lots of us yearns for. You will laugh, you will sigh (whether its because of sadness or happiness, you will) you will swoon, and you will be charmed. Karina Bliss made Zander Freedman, for that she is EPIC!
Profile Image for Nalini Singh.
Author 229 books24.5k followers
February 10, 2017
I'm moving some of my blog book recs onto Goodreads, and I couldn't leave out Rise, an amazing book by my friend and awesome author Karina Bliss.

It's emotional and intense and I couldn't put it down. Her rock star is, as the blurb says, "manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic and morally ambiguous" - he's a fascinating character to get to know, right along with his heroine, the biographer he talks into writing his story. I hope you'll check this book out!
February 10, 2017
This story isn't about a young rock star 'hanging out' with the groupies and the whole sex, drugs and rock -n- roll. Oh no, this is an older rock star, Zander, that's 'hanging out' with the groupies, sex and rock -n- roll but no drugs. A been there, done that and now I'm gonna do it even better rock star. One with a story to tell and a biographer he needs to convince to write his story.

Elizabeth is that biographer but she's never (for the most part) done anything like this...she's a historical biographer. She's turned off and turned on all at the same time.

These two are definitely opposites but they each see something in the other person. It just takes a hella long time to get to something. Seriously, that was the worst part but once things got going, it was amazing.

Naturally, Zander has a lot of secrets. There's a reason he's doing things the way he's doing them. And most people just do what he says but not Elizabeth, she has a way of seeing through what he's saying to what he's meaning.


And Elizabeth is just about the nicest person...ever. She brings everyone together...it comes naturally to her being a minister's daughter and having several younger siblings. And as cliché as that sounds, it was exactly what everyone needed...Zander included.

There's a lot of drama, not just between Zander and Elizabeth but with the new band and the old band, with a band member and his wife, with ex-girlfriends and so on. It does keep the story moving and things interesting.

Of course, everything comes crashing down. I was really surprised at the way Zander handled everything. And I especially loved what Elizabeth came up with. It's a great ending but will leave you wanting more.

Apparently, Devin, Zander's brother, already has his book out...it's not included in this series but it's called What the Librarian Did. Next up is Jared and Kayla's novella and then Dimity's book...hopefully with Seth!


Favorite quotes:

♥ "Outside your comfort zone is the only place worth living."

♥ “Doc, I’ve slept with a lot of women—” “Be still my beating heart.” “—and I’ve never wanted a woman like I want you.”

♥ “Your heart,” she said simply.

“Yes, you have that.” Zander lifted his head to kiss her. “Always and forever, it’s yours.”

♦ BR w/Melissa!
Profile Image for Beatrix.
538 reviews96 followers
February 10, 2017
Rise is currently free. Don't miss this awesome book. Amazon link

*This review is posted on Way Too Hot Books.*

Well, well.. this was such a pleasant surprise! This is what I call good writing, people!

First, I want to thank my friend Iva for recommending me the book. She said that the banter between the MCs reminded her of our favorite Connor and Rose from Kiss the Sky, so of course I wanted to check it out. Besides, who doesn’t love a good flirt-fight? ;)

Now, where to begin? Maybe from the thing that I noticed first and the thing that completely seized my attention from the start and that is – great writing. Romance novels are full of tropes and clichés and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stumble upon those really good ones. To me, Rise truly stands out: it has flawed characters, witty dialogues, interesting plot, AND intelligent bantering and sexual tension between the two main characters – Elizabeth and Zander, is off the charts.

Moreover, what I particularly liked about Rise is the fact it’s not your typical rock-star romance. Other characters are well-developed and thumbs up for additional female characters who have their own sub-plots! Go Dimity, Stormy & Kayla!

Aaaaand, I saved the best for last – Zander Freedman. That. Man. He’s arrogant, irresponsible, selfish, but he’s also playful, sensual and captivating.

"Zander vanished into the dark. Seconds later a vocal note, as menacing as dragon-smoke, rose and curled like a helix around the instrumentals. A spotlight flared and he appeared, arms raised, stance wide, his face seared white. And still that note soared…"

Scenes where Zander was described performing brought images of Jared Leto singing Hurricane to my mind. Ah, a girl can dream.


Furthermore, I’m so happy I discovered this author. I’ve never heard of Karina Bliss before, but after Rise I’ll be definitely checking out her other books!

Overall, if you want to read a sexy and intelligent romance, devoid of adolescent angst, I’d highly recommend this book!

PS: I’m also so happy that there will be more books in the series dealing with other characters. I can’t wait for Dimity’s story. She’s badass!
PPS: That memoir In Bed with a Rock God, I’d sooo read it.
Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,227 reviews261 followers
July 5, 2018
Bullet list
*Realistic for a rocker romance
*strong relationship and character growth: no perfection here
*Great supporting characters
*A very sweet and incredibly memorable scene or three

-resolution took a bit too long/got long in the end

Karina Bliss has my attention.
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,361 reviews309 followers
May 5, 2015
5 "Rock star romance with a different take" stars

Have you ever came across a rock star romance that isn't filled with insta-lust, sex, booze, groupies, profanity and OTT drama? A hero that doesn't walk with a perpetual hard-on and a heroine who isn't always wet.

I think might just found the my favorite rock star in Rise.

Zander Freedman, a vet rock star, who is pushing 40, trying to resurrect his band reputation while battling with his ailing health condition. With his tour and endless promo, he even decided to have a memoir written to capture his life work.

"When I was a choirboy I thought I'd be a priest, but it was less of a spiritual calling than imagining myself in the pulpit with a captive audience. Rock filled the same criteria and celibacy wasn't a requirement."

What make Zander such a different from other younger rock star is that he had been there, done that, he is no longer the stereotypical testosterone-fuel-sex-God-knocked-up-with-coke, which usually portrayed in such genre.

Elizabeth Winston is a rare gem as well. A 36 year old, book-smart heroine, is not only intelligent, witty, rational and professional, she always had a warm and giving heart. She also had a healthy dose of cynicism in life that make her want to distance herself from Zander. She successfully avoided the cliche insta-lust with the rock star.

Against her better judgement, Elizabeth took up the job as Zander's biographer and through practically living together, she started to understand the complex man behind his rock God persona.

How many people do you need to love you?
A stadium feels about right.

Zander did a lot of things that he is ashamed of to be who he is today. He never think he is someone redeemable and giving up hope that he will one day deserve his own happiness. Resurrecting his band is the only thing he know and the only thing he is good at. But is the sacrifice worth it in the end?

"What kind of life do you see for yourself when all this is over?"

In a lot of ways, Rise reminds me of Louder Than Love by Jessica Topper due the hero age and the whole burnt out rock star angle. A hero who is trying to redeem not only his career, but his past mistake and to make him worthy for his loved ones. Although, this book is not all sexed up, the romance is sexy enough to keep me satiate.

The only complain I had with this book is the whole Stormy's POV. I guess Karina might be building up a character for her next book in the series, but those chapters seems to interfere with the pacing of the story and drew the focus away from the main couple. I find myself skimming those few chapters which I find rather irrelevant.

Anyway it doesn't affect my overall enjoyment of the story, when I read the last page, I had a same feelings whenever I read a book I adore, I don't want Zander and Elizabeth's story to end. Karina Bliss is definitely under my radar now.

How many people do you need to love you?
Just one. This one.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,124 reviews262 followers
January 27, 2015
Aging rock star, Zander Freedman, is going back on a highly controversial tour. Part and parcel of this come back is biography. Zander chooses a historical biographer that he admires but also with the thoughts that he can control her with his bad boy wiles.

Elizabeth is an acclaimed biographer, when she is offered the chance to write Zander's autobiography she could never imagine they changes that are about to take place in her life.

Zander never considered having one woman in his life, but the more he gets to know Elizabeth the more he becomes attached to her sweet and giving demeanor. Elizabeth evokes some inner demons as well as deep contemplation about his life and the choices he's made.

Can the preachers daughter and the rock star change each other for the better?

Bliss somehow reveals her characters like peeling a onion, slowly, layer by layer. I was surprised by the depth in which we get to know each character.

I loved Elizabeth. She is sweet and stands up for everyone around her even if they don't want it. Zander is forced by Elizabeth to play a more active roll in the world around him which is intensified by Zander's sobriety.

Although the story digs deep, it has a highly humorous side that keeps the telling lively and fresh.

Magnificently told story, you can't help but be touched by Rise.

I received this ARC copy of Rise from Karina Bliss in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication January 28, 2015.

Series: a ROCK SOLID romance
Paperback: 338 pages
Publisher: Karina Bliss; 1.1 edition
Publication Date: January 14, 2015
Rating: 5 stars
ISBN-10: 0994116519
ISBN-13: 978-0994116512
Genre: Contemporary Romance | Romantic Comedy
Find this book on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Reviewed for: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Hazel *Craves the Angst Reviews*.
768 reviews283 followers
February 11, 2015
Find This and Other Reviews At Craves The Angst.

Rise is the first book in the Rock Solid series and is an Adult, Rocker Romance written by Karina Bliss. I was gifted a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review through AToMR Tours .

5 Rockin’ Super Stars!
Romantic, Intelligent, Redeeming and Lovely! A Fantastic Story From Beginning to End!

...RAGE against the dying of the light...

The Review:
This was my first book by this author and I am completely sold on her writing talents! Rise was exciting, fun and witty. The story was flawless and had so much heart and depth, I immediately wanted to do a re-read when hitting the last page. The characters were solid and connectable and I fell completely for both the heroine and hero! And the writing... wow. It was elegant and captivating. I just couldn't get enough...

Zander Freedman, lead singer of Rage is trying to hit gold for the second time in his life. After his original band fell apart, he decided to recreate their success with a younger set of band mates. Zander is ambitious, goal oriented, sometimes called a tyrant in his demand for success, he’s arrogant, self-assured and HOT. AS. SIN! He’s also holding on to some very damaging secrets and if they ever got out, he knows he’d fall from grace. With the rising stardom of his band, he takes on the infamous Elizabeth Winston, established historical writer, to come in and write his memoirs.

Elizabeth has lead a quiet life filled with the quiet adventures and truths of the long-ago dead. Her life is humble and she’s respected amongst her peers. When self-proclaimed bad-boy rocker Zanders approaches her to write his memoirs, she’s understandably reluctant. But realizing an opportunity when it knocks, she agrees and thus changes both her and Zander’s life forever.

What I loved most about this story was there wasn’t the insta-attraction or insta-lust or insta-love between these two. Zander has an agenda in hiring Elizabeth and Elizabeth has a reputation to maintain. They start out on the neutral foundation of working colleagues. Elizabeth is there to do a job and Zander finds plenty of ways to circumvent her sharp eye from discovering more than he wants her to know.

As they banter back and forth and create a relaxed environment for more to bloom, these two start a very slow fall towards more, and it’s never boring, never slow and always fun! Sometimes in rock and roll stories, we’re witnessing the beginning stages of a bands legend where their career takes off and they have to find or keep the love they’ve unexpectedly found. I loved that in this story, Zander has already had his fame. He’d already experienced all the grandeur of the lifestyle and at almost forty, we get to see the possible end and near fall of a rock legend. It was a wonderful and uniquely different look at a side of a story not often told. And I loved it!

Zander and Elizabeth had beautiful chemistry and their romance was sweet and wonderful to read. I enjoyed every moment of their connection and that ending? SO. GOOD! And I have to mention the marvelous job the author does of incorporating side stories the kept me both excited to see what happened with the sub characters AND excitedly anticipating the next chapter where we would see what was happening with our hero and heroine.

The Wrap Up:
I loved everything about this book. I simply couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for the next book to see what happens with two of the sub characters from this book who we left in a bit of a struggle. I think I’ve found another favorite author!

Quote Spotlight...
”I’m staying away from nice girls.” He added seriously, “I only hurt them.”
“Excellent strategy,” She beamed at him.
Her relief seemed disproportionate - until he realized. Elizabeth thought she was a nice girl. Incredible that someone so smart could be so deluded. She had no idea she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Zander watched her go. And she wasn’t safe, not one bit.
He knew he was a wolf.

Profile Image for Steelwhisper.
Author 5 books391 followers
February 5, 2017
This has everything: excellent prose, great interesting plot, wonderful and realistic characters including secondary characters, suspense, intrigue, warmth and humour. One of the few contemporary romances which convinced me.

Wholeheartedly recommended!
Profile Image for Melody Cox.
1,499 reviews134 followers
February 5, 2017
What a disappointment!! The only part I cared for was the last 15% or so and it wasn't great. What didn't I like you may ask?
1) Too many sub plots and other people that took away from the actual story line.
2) The ex girlfriend was mentioned almost one hundred times. I know this is his story but approx a hundred times...Ooo! Not cool!
3) He was not just a man-whore, which for me is bad enough, but he was a cheater as well. He can call it an open relationship or whatever he chooses but to me it was cheating. You go screw other gals when you have a girlfriend when you say you care for but it's just wrong on every level. He just about destroyed her, changed her but certainly not for the better. He crushed her heart and didn't care at all at the time.
4) He was an arrogant, prideful, selfish, self-absorbed person and thought he was God's gift to women, well actually he thought he was God's gift to the world. It sickened me. I almost didn't finish but since it was so highly rated I really wanted to. I kept hoping something big would happen to make it a really good read. Unfortunately it did not and I certainly can't recommend it. The kind of person he is/was really bothered me and even though they got their HEA...how long will he stay faithful? How long will it take for him to have a taste of someone else, a wife, one woman didn't seem to ever be enough. Wouldn't trust him whatsoever. I don't care how much he acts like he's changed. As soon as something didn't go his way he was off the wagon and drunk as a skunk. It almost cost him 'the love of his life' as he thought of her.

Not for me at all!
Profile Image for Gaufre.
467 reviews22 followers
July 26, 2017
This book has everything I wish for in a contemporary romance: characters who are good at what they do and act like adults, a relationship that develops from mutual respect, fun dialogues, and lovely writing in general.
Profile Image for *The Angry Reader*.
1,350 reviews293 followers
November 16, 2018
I feel like this is a review that’s going to be full of “nots”. And this book doesn’t deserve that. So let’s get em over right now. This is not your typical rockstar romance. This is not full of cliches. This is not insta-lust. This is not a dim-witted heroine denying denying denying whilst stumbling stupidly forward after a bad man. This is not sex and drugs and rock and roll. This is not a stupid book.

What this is? It’s smart. It’s funny. It’s sweet. It’s two self-aware people falling in love. Discussing their failings. Owning them (and not always fixing them). Swept up by passion but also respectful - a hero and heroine who are complete opposites make perfect sense bc we see who they really are.

This is the thinking woman’s rock star romance.

Profile Image for Lyuda.
538 reviews133 followers
February 12, 2018

Rock born from flame.

I loved the book from its mood-defining cover to a very satisfying ending. Ever since reading What the Librarian Did I became a fan of the author. Rise is a sequel staring Devin’s older brother Zander, a jaded, selfish, vain 40-year-old rock star at the peak of his band resurrection and second coming. He sings to sold-out concerts, travels around the world. His life on the outside is sex, drugs and rock’n’role. But all of this is overshadowed by his secret- he is losing his voice. Before worst could happen and his voice failed, Zander wants to secure his legacy with a kick-ass memoir. He offers a writing job to the Pulitzer-prize-winning biographer Elizabeth Winston. He needs her

for her literary cred and to land a ring of truth to a memoir that would secure his place in the pantheon of rock’n’role greats. Not bare his darkest secrets. Because if people knew him for who he truly was, they’d despise him.

Elizabeth is as far removed from Zander’s world as can be. She is serious, calm, intelligent, rational, professional. Her books are all biographies of historical people long dead.

There is so much more to the story than opposite attracts. The author achieved almost impossible- made me love a self-centered, boastful, thoughtless rock-star. The relationship between characters is refreshingly mature, complex, and dynamic. They don’t fall instantly in love with each other (thank God!) but have an amazing chemistry. Their witty banter created some of the best lines I read in a while.

The story can be read as a stand-alone but I suggest to read What the Librarian Did first to truly experience the depth of Zander’s transformation and the author’s magic in making it happen.
Profile Image for Loz.
778 reviews
February 26, 2015
4.5 stars

i loved this book! great storyline with some really fantastic and well written characters. a mature and smartly written take on the rockstar genre while keeping itself quite fun and light hearted but with a few of those delicious moments of drama sprinkled in.

would recommend to anyone looking for something with either a rockstar bad boy, a strong independent heroine, a mature aged couple or just an enjoyable read with some great character development.

Profile Image for Coco.V.
46.4k reviews4 followers
Want to read
November 8, 2020
🎁FREE on Amazon & on Apple Books today (11/8/2020)!🎁

💝 ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 💝
Profile Image for T. Rosado.
1,666 reviews41 followers
January 1, 2021

5 Stars

What a fabulous book to end 2020 on! This was definitely one of the better straightforward contemporary romances I’ve read in awhile. Being that it was a rock star romance, surprised me even more.

Rise had a unique setup - nerdy historical biographer shadows founding band member and lead singer of popular rock band, while on tour. I loved the heroine right from the start and her character remained consistent throughout. No melodrama or ludicrous decisions. Those who know me, tolerate my irrational pickiness and understand my appreciation for a solid heroine. Zander was also pretty wonderful. Like I implied, I'm not usually a fan of rock star romances, but a veteran rock star, reformed to clean living while hiding that fact along with a potentially debilitating ailment, was an intriguing spin. Coupled with a smart, rather straight-laced heroine, and I found their connection fascinating.

The author really nailed the story and character development. Not only did she keep me interested in the ensuing romance between the leads, but she kept me intrigued with the multifaceted secondary characters. Not one remained tied to my original impressions. Either divine intervention helped this author create an impeccably developed book or she invested the time and energy it took to give her audience a romance that stood out among the rest. Quite often, I gravitate towards historical and women’s fiction in order to find stories with this type of development. I forget there are still some authors that write romance-focused books with the development I crave as a reader.

Maybe my enjoyment of this book was amplified by the rarity in finding romances that hit all the right buttons for me in regards to details, story development, and characterizations. Regardless, I loved these characters and the time I got to spend with them.
Profile Image for Sunny.
1,423 reviews
February 26, 2016
ARC Review

Originally posted at Love Affair with an E-Reader

There is always a special thrill to discover a new-to-me author whose book makes me stand up and take notice. I signed up for this blog tour because I like to pepper my romance reading with rock –n- roll stories. The personalities, the excesses, the challenges of fame, are a wonderful indulgence that I like to occasionally partake. Rise is that, but so much more.

What is the “More” (a.k.a. Things I Love About This Book)

The Story

There is an incident in an elevator at the beginning of this book that totally threw me. After reading it, I knew I was in for a different kind of rock story. Zander Freeman is on his second round of fame. After his original members disbanded, he re-assembles his iconic band with new musicians and plans the world tour. In the meantime, he wants to solidify his place in rock history by writing his memoir. He hires a Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Elizabeth Winston, to write this story.

On the surface, they are like oil and water. She is serious, cautious, and thoughtful. He is playful, risk-taking, and arrogant. But there is so much more going on underneath the surface. There are many layers to the story and as each level is revealed, the relationship goes deeper. The emotions get stronger; the fear and frustration builds.

I also appreciate the different kinds of dilemmas that the characters face. To me, they are not your typical conflicts, ones I have not encountered in other books. There are, of course, the traditional insecurities and situations, but they are presented with a twist.

The Characters

Take a worldly, cynical rockstar and pair him with a fully grounded and practical historian and watch the sparks fly. I love that this is about a growing relationship based on respect and companionship. Although not evident at first, they are very much alike – deep thinkers and feelers. They learn to really admire each other. Of course, the physical attraction is there, but the real relationship builds over time.

I like the fact that the characters are a little more mature. This is not a New Adult novel. These characters are well established in their careers and deal with more adult challenges. For example, I had not considered the risk an academic takes when she takes on a “mainstream” project like writing a memoir of a popular icon. There are some that would try and diminish her standing for writing a “fluff” piece, challenge her professionalism. But Elizabeth takes this project on because her skill “lay not in making controversial figures likeable, but understandable. Mortal.” This really resonates with me at a deep level. As a student of history, I challenge the “heroification” of history. I believe history is about ordinary people making extraordinary choices in extraordinary times. People related can relate to the struggles, not the perfect icon.

For me, Elizabeth is easy to like. She is logical, but also a bit of a crusader. She wants people to be good and to be good to one another. She is not naïve, but demands that people act like adults.

Zander is not new to the music business, having started with the original band as a teenager. Rock and roll is all he knows. He fights for his new band. He evolves and matures and satisfying to watch.

The Writing

There are so many wonderful lines in this book. Karina Bliss writes smart dialogue and witty banter. When you get the scene of the BBQ and the discussion about manicures and pedicures, you will understand.

There are several detours in the story and usually, I am critical of this if not done well. This one is done well. The multiple storylines do not compete but rather create a complex beautiful story.

Small Critiques

Sometimes when an author is from another part of the country or another (Karina Bliss is from New Zealand), they can make a cultural reference that might not be exactly on point. There were one or two tiny little things that just caught my attention (and granted, these are arguable). In regard to Jolly Ranchers – I think when most people think of Jolly Ranchers, they think of the hard candy version. Jolly Rancher does make fruit chews, but I don’t think they are as popular. Also, there is a reference to keeping the personal separate from professional. I thought it is interesting that she called it “careful about separating state from personal.”

So you can see, if these are the harshest critiques, this is a damn good book.

“I could be safe or I could have you.” Books like Rise are the reason I read romance.
Profile Image for Maygirl7.
825 reviews57 followers
November 23, 2016
I wasn't expecting this book and author to win me over as completely as they have. I'm a fan and even went out to buy the Harlequin "prequel" What the Librarian Did as soon as I finished and no doubt I'll go out and buy Fall as soon as I'm done. The only problem is stopping myself from reading long enough to cook everything for Thanksgiving.

Elizabeth was a great character. She didn't fall into any of the clichés that you usually see in romance novels. Tough, incisive, sweet, good-humored, fun. I liked that the author didn't try to balance her positive qualities by giving her a hard edge or negative qualities. I don't think I'm doing a good job of describing what I mean. And Zander. His unexpected vulnerability was very appealing. The heat on his side was very clear though at some points on her side Elizabeth seemed a bit remote.

Why oh why can't I just keep reading.
Profile Image for namericanwordcat.
2,442 reviews401 followers
March 2, 2017
If you like watching a rake reform Rock Star style, you will really adore this book.

Karina Bliss is a great write who creates complex characters and engaging plots.

The hero, Zander, is not thoughtful. He is driven and single minded. However, he changes and it is as he changes that the heroine falls in love with him.

There is the couple that center of the storm of this book with wonderful developing characters surrounding them.

The heroine and heroine are full adults with all the baggage and layers that entails. This makes the love story and sexual tension delicious.

The unlikeable characters become likable and the seemingly simple ones complex. Good stuff!
Profile Image for Pamela .
1,417 reviews72 followers
February 11, 2015
DNF 30% in and I just couldn't take it anymore. Holy shit! Absolutely, positively BORING! I've read lots of boring books but this one takes boring to a whole new level. BORING! BORING! BORING!
Profile Image for Tina.
1,742 reviews280 followers
December 3, 2019
Really good, solid and interesting behind the scenes Rock romance.

Zander is the lead singer of Rage, a rock band. He has resurrected the band that had imploded years before. Only now it is with new members that he culled from a reality show created for just that purpose. And they are going on the aptly named 'Resurrection' tour.

It isn't just a case of getting the band back together, Zander needs this mega-tour desperately to stave off financial ruin. Basically behind the super sexy rock god image, Zander's life is a bit of a mess. Everything is mortgaged, he has bad blood with his old band-mates, he has an image problem, and worse than everything else, he has polyps on his vocal cords that could erupt and hemorrhage at any moment. He needs surgery and there is no guarantee that his singing voice will be the same. But he's rolled he dice and hopes everything will work out.

In the meantime he has hired a biographer to help rehab his image. Elizabeth is an academic writer and being tapped to write the biography of a bad boy rocker is simultaneously seen as a coup (what academic doesn't secretly want have their work catapult to the top of a popular best seller list?) and viewed with some elitist raised eyebrows at this being a little lowbrow for her talent. But Elizabeth is game and off she goes on tour with Rage.

Of course Zander and Elizabeth spark, but they are charming and sweetly sexy about it. And that is mostly due to Elizabeth. She is written and a genuinely nice person whose personality insidiously and stealthily infects the rest of the team. But also underneath it is Zander is basically a decent person and the book has a lot of great scenes of him doing (begrudgingly) decent things under Elizabeth's urging and approving eye.

I enjoyed the fact that the book wasn't just some super sexed up, salivating, cliche look at a rock band and all their sex & drugs excesses. The band members are interestingly drawn with a lot of different stresses that add to the plot. Because we get Zander's pov, we know about the undercurrent of anxiety about the money and the comeback that he hides under his charm and charisma. So he doesn't really have time (and really can't because of the throat condition) a lot more at stake to allow himself to indulge in excesses.

Then there is Dimity who is his no-nonsene right hand. She's his assistant that keeps everything running. Dimity is a great character whose main characteristic is her stiletto sharp tongue She is scathing and cool and I just adored Dimity.

The other band members also have their side issues. They were plucked from a reality show so they are being shown first hand the stresses of a long tour and the fame and attention tht comes with it: Seth (the drummer) who is devoted to his girlfriend from home and really trying to make the long distance relationship work, Jared (the bassist) who brings his wife and two young kids along on the tour and we get to witness how that plays out, and Moss (lead guitarist) is the one who is really revelling in the whole rock star thing.

and finally there is Stormy, Zander's ex. I won't go into detail about her but I really enjoyed how everything played out there.

So yeah this was a great read with a lot going with well developed characters across the board.

Plunging right into the next one because it stars my girl crush Dimity.
Profile Image for Kristiej.
1,173 reviews71 followers
February 8, 2015
4.5 Stars

I discovered Karina Bliss with What the Librarian Did, loved it, got all her backlist and have read every new book since then so it was a given that I would read Bliss.

We first get to know Zander in Librarian and he's a first class, egotistical, selfish jerk. And he didn't really improve much in the next couple of books he appeared in. So I wasn't sure how I would react to him in Bliss and for at least the first half of the book it was not in a positive way and it was kind of tough going. It was Elizabeth, his biographer and his friend and eventually his lover thart kept me reading a book wher I didn't like the hero. Elizabeth makes for a wonderful heroine. She's funny, intelligent, grounded and more than capable of holing her own against the over-inflated ego that is Zander.

A bit about the book. Zander Freedman is the lead singer of a very popular Rock band named Rage. There decline is outlined in the book What the Librarian Did and is about Devin, Zander's younger brother and the lead bass. The band imploded when Devin collapsed onstage from over excess of the lifestyle that goes on with that kind of life. In Bliss, Zander has reformed the band with different musicians and is preparing to take Rage on a worldwide tour. In order to get even more publicity, he hires Elizabeth, a respected biographer of historical figures. She, of course, is reluctant as all get out since this kind of biography but Zander is a force to be reckoned with and is next to impossible to say no to with his charismatic ways.

So this is the story of Elzabeth trying to get the story from him. He dodges, cancels, only tells half truths and in general very difficult, but hard to stay angry at.

The book started out in my head as a 2, then as the book went along and Zander slowly became less of a prick, I upgraded to a 3, then a 3 1/2, then a 4 and ended as a 4 1/2. There was never any doubt though that Ms. Bliss lost any points as an author and even as I was reading about this fairly dislikeable 'hero' I knew I'd be counting down until her next book in the series I enjoy her writing and stories that much.

So you did it Karina Bliss. You fully redeemed Zander Freedman for me so much to the point my throat was closing up as his was. You gave him the perfect partner in Elizabeth who could help with his oh so enjoyable transformation.
Profile Image for SuperWendy.
895 reviews240 followers
March 10, 2015
I liked this one a lot. While Zander had been a villain in the author's previous book, What The Librarian Did, I thought his other appearances in latter stories (notably, A Prior Engagement) rounded out his character better and he really started to intrigue. Make no mistake, he's still a self-absorbed jackass, but I liked how the author slowly began peeling back layers to him as the romance progressed. Also, nice to see an intellectual, adult heroine fall for a rock star hero and not another retread of the virginal innocent getting "schooled" in the ways of debauchery by the rock n' roll god. Blah. A strong B read.
Profile Image for Saly.
3,433 reviews509 followers
September 20, 2015
Rating 3.25 stars
Personally I am not a fan of rockstar stories because nothing about the lifestyle appeals to me but I do like this author and Zander is someone I had found interesting in her earlier books. Zander is Zander, arrogant, selfish, morose and a whole other range of emotions. The heroine is not bad too. Overall the book was quite okay for me.
Profile Image for Alison.
3,080 reviews119 followers
September 2, 2020
Zander Freeman is a rock legend. Frontman for the rock band Rage, he rebuilt the group after an ugly split with the other members, including his own brother. Now he's risked every cent of his own money on a world tour and he is hiding a serious medical issue that could jeopardise everything. I first met Zander in Bring Him Home when he was the obnoxious rock star that Nate was bodyguarding (is that even a word?). Apparently he also appears in What the Librarian Did, which features his brother Devin, but I haven't read that one.

Elizabeth Winston is a serious historical biographer so when Zander asks her to write his memoir she's amused and dismissive. But when she realises that he has actually read some of her work she thinks she could write something about someone who is alive, for a change.

Elizabeth forces Zander to take a good hard look at himself in the mirror, and he realises that he has sacrificed friends and family to his ego and arrogance. Heck he couldn't even remember his girl-friend for a year's real name!

As the attraction between them grows can their fling remain a dirty secret? Or could a rock legend be falling in love?

I like Karina Bliss' novels. Even her shallow, narcissistic heroes are erudite and thoughtful at times. The build up to Zander and Elizabeth's first 'encounter' was slow and sultry, I think it was about halfway through the book, and felt like extended foreplay as they danced around each other with looks and words.

If that sounds a bit tame, see a rock god negotiate with a little girl in a tiara and look after a screaming baby. Watch him enthral crowds at stadiums across Europe and the US, feel the electricity in the air as he comes off stage and hear the deep thrum of the music.

If you feel like reading a romance with a feisty, independent heroine and a jaded rock star, a great storyline and a stellar supporting cast then look no further, I've found your next read. You're welcome.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Moon .
3,273 reviews204 followers
February 2, 2015
Rock star romances are all the rage and I love them. I also read them often, and now and again, one will stand out. Rise is one such book. It's not because it's hot or raunchy, or the fact that it's the hottest new/biggest rock star. It's because of the characters and who they are.

Elizabeth and Zander are infinitely likable. I was surprised by the fact that I liked Zander. I think that's because I haven't read the previous book so can't judge him on how he used to be. I only know him as this guy who is worried about taking care of his responsibilities. I know meddling isn't always fruitful, but Elizabeth genuinely cared about the people around her, so it didn't come across as invasive and intrusive. The two had wonderful chemistry. I also enjoyed how old Zander and Elizabeth were. It made the emotions and story feel solid.

What I really liked was how religion was included in this book. Elizabeth is the child of two ministers and so faith plays a big role in her upbringing and who she is. It was done in a way that was true with keeping in Elizabeth's character, but wasn't too preachy or overbearing for those who have different beliefs. While reading, I had the fleeing thought this book could be categorized as an hot inspirational adult contemporary rock star romance. There were moments when things were fade to black/implied and others when love scenes were more explicit.

I experienced so many emotions as I read and the story was so entertaining, I found it extremely hard to put down. I hurt so much for Zander when I found out what caused him the most pain. I wanted to reach into the book and give him a giant hug. All in all, I enjoyed being kept on my toes as I read. It wasn't just Elizabeth and Zander who kept me wondering about what was going to happen next, but also Zander's new band mates and the people in their lives. I enjoyed getting to know them and look forward to reading more about them in the future.
Profile Image for Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method).
1,603 reviews478 followers
September 17, 2016
Always suspicious of any book where marrying the rich and famous is the recipe for long term marital success. BUT once you get past that, this is one of the better written of this genre. The character of Elizabeth is compelling and I like the fact that they admitted that the aging rock star, oh hey, had a little cosmetic help to stay that good looking.
Profile Image for Farrah.
1,249 reviews209 followers
January 29, 2015
A hot, emotional, and sweet romance, Rise was an excellent read. I was wary going into it, hoping it wouldn't be a cliche rockstar romance but it turned out to be a book with realistic emotion and raw romance. I really enjoyed it.

Elizabeth was a great heroine. Calm, cool, and collected, there was very little that could ruffle her. Other than the fear of letting herself be vulnerable to someone who would very possibly break her heart. But, in the end, her determination allowed her to overcome even that. I really liked her character.

Zander was an interesting personality. He was magnetic, forceful, charming, and could get just about anyone to dance to his tune with just his smile and a few well placed words. But, he was also determined and wanted nothing more than to prove himself to the world. And, he could be surprisingly sweet as well, particularly with Elizabeth. I thought he was a great character.

The romance built up slowly. It went from attraction to Elizabeth and Zander gaining respect for each other to them falling in love (though they refused to admit it at first). They were sweet together, both influencing the other for the better. And they definitely had chemistry that sizzled.

The plot moved steadily, keeping me engaged from the start. There were a few slow parts, but it wasn't a major problem. I enjoyed the story and the ending was great. I look forward to reading the next books in the series.

Rise was a fantastic romance that I really liked it. It had interesting characters, an intense romance, and an enjoyable story. Romance lovers, this is a book worth checking out.

*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Iva.
628 reviews100 followers
November 20, 2020
I have no idea why I never wrote a review of this book the first time I read it back in 2015. Because it's in top 10 of my all-time favorite romance books and that's saying something since I have almost a 1000 of them in my "read" list.
I ADORE Zander and Elizabeth, absolutely crazy about their characters and relationship. I'm so happy the author wrote a continuation and that's why I re-read the first book (now in 2020) to remind myself of the brilliance of it. This is one of those books where you are so amazed by the connection between the couple - THIS is romance, the out-of-this-world bond created with many, many tiny moments, words, gestures, touches... I love the communication they have, love both of their intense personalities, their virtues and their flaws (and there are many of them, major ones). The acceptance and forgiveness, the compromise, the "my life will never be the same again after meeting you" feeling... *sigh*
I'm out of words to describe how much this book is perfect. Just go read it!
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