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Rock Star Dom + his Queen of the Spreadsheet employee = KRYPTONITE

Kate is a globe-trotting tour manager who can’t be tied down.
Danny is a Dominant rock star and tattoo artist who needs her help to explore his true kinks.

Kate just got her big break, running an international tour for a rising band. Her job is everything to her…at least until she meets the band’s enigmatic bass player.

After they collide in one unforgettably erotic night on a hotel balcony, he comes to her with a proposition. As a former BDSM club performer, Danny’s spent so long fulfilling other people’s fantasies that now he wants to reclaim his own—and he says she’s the only one who can help.

Getting caught in bed with her rock star boss could cost her career, and yet there’s something about Danny’s quiet intensity that she can’t resist. He steals her heart, hard. But the end of the tour is approaching, and their jobs are headed two different directions.

To be together one of them will have to stop touring, but the only thing they crave as much as each other is music.

Escape into the Sex, Love, and Rock & Roll series, which follows Danny’s band from dive bars to the big time. Click now to meet the band!

Book 2 of an NTRWA award-winning series

**This book can be read and understood as a standalone, but does contain spoilers for earlier books in the series.**

374 pages, ebook

Published March 5, 2018

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About the author

Michelle Hazen

22 books437 followers
Michelle Hazen is a nomad with a writing problem. Years ago, she and her husband ducked out of the 9 to 5 world and moved into their truck. She found her voice with the support of the online fanfiction community, and once she started typing, she never looked back. She has written most of her books in odd places, including a bus in Thailand, an off-the-grid cabin in the Sawtooth Mountains, a golf cart in a sandstorm, a rental car during a heat wave in the Mohave Desert and a beach in Honduras. Even when she’s climbing rocks, riding horses, or getting lost someplace wild and beautiful, there are stories spooling out inside her head, until she finally heeds their call and returns to her laptop and solar panels.

Michelle is the award-winning author of Breathe the Sky, Unbreak Me, So You Think You're a Match, and the Sex, Love, and Rock and Roll series. Find her at http://michellehazenbooks.com/ on Facebook or Instagram at @MichelleHazenAuthor, or follow her on Twitter @michellehazen.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 92 reviews
Profile Image for Maria11.
1,825 reviews36 followers
February 17, 2018
Hum..kind of on the fence with this one. I wanted to give it three stars but then gave it four. The story was good, but just seemed to drag at times and then sometimes it felt like the good stuff was getting skipped.

I liked that they were going to try and find out what Danny liked, but it didn’t really seemed like it happened he seemed to be doing everything she liked. The story never really got into the meat of all the kinda superficial. I liked hearing about bands on tours interesting how it all comes together and all the coordination. Kate’s job is interesting, but I didn’t feel like Danny should take a back seat. Jera and Jacob interaction was interesting. I know Jax is going to get his story, but all his crap was glossed over too, i wanted to yell that I am with you Jax when everyone leaves you out.

Ok read want to read more for sure.

Received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Simply Love Book Reviews.
6,891 reviews819 followers
March 5, 2018

While there was no doubt I enjoyed Playing The Pauses, I’ll admit that this book wore on me a bit. I felt like the hero and heroine kept having the same argument over and over and never really communicating to one another what they really wanted from each other. At times I got frustrated with them, but then something great would happen and I’d get sucked back in and keep going. I’m not a lover of angst, and while the first book in this series had a bit, this book had loads making it a bit more difficult for me to love. The one thing that made me keep reading this book is the characters, all of them from the hero and heroine to all the secondary characters, their varied personalities made it hard to walk away from this book.

Kate Madsen is a tour manager who picks up The Red Letters tour when their tour manager is hospitalized. She knows she has an uphill battle with this “baby band” but she will give it her all because that’s what she’s paid to do. She just doesn’t expect the impact that the band’s bassist, Danny O’Neil, has on her.

Here’s the thing, I think Kate and Danny were very good for one another and brought out the best in each other. I especially loved that Kate was not a bit jealous of Danny’s close relationship with his band mate and best friend Jera and in fact understood that their relationship was a special kind of friendship. What seemed off or just flat out didn’t work was Danny’s whole BDSM sex club performer side that worked for Kate, but didn’t seem to work for Danny. That whole part of the storyline just seemed out of place and I felt like Danny’s issue was never really resolved. And it’s not because I have issues with the BDSM lifestyle, not by any stretch of the imagination, it just seemed to me that this part of the story was contrived. However, while I was disappointed in that part of the story I still enjoyed watching Kate and Danny discover one another, enjoy each other’s company, and fall in love.

While I didn’t enjoy Playing The Pauses as much as I did A Cruel Kind of Beautiful, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Next up is Jax, and I have to say I’m a wee bit apprehensive about what’s to come.

Profile Image for Siobhan.
4,403 reviews461 followers
March 5, 2018
Playing the Pauses is the second book in Michelle Hazen’s Sex, Love, and Rock & Roll series, although it works perfectly fine as a standalone novel. I read it as a standalone novel, and did not lose any of the meaning behind the story. There are scenes, however, that build heavily upon events from the first book – so for a fuller understanding of the side characters and their story, it is best to read the series in order. Not necessary, but advised. Although I understood this one perfectly, I do wish to go back and read A Cruel Kind of Beautiful. I was intrigued by the characters and their story, and I’m interested in finding out more about what happened.

I’ll be completely honest about this one – I’m not entirely sure what rating I wish to give it. There were quite a few points where my brain was screaming out for me to hand out a three-star rating – when I first started this book in particular, I was having issues getting into it and was fearing a low rating – but there was something about this one that had me rounding up to the four-star rating when a large part of me believes I wouldn’t usually round up for this kind of three-point-five-star read.

You see, my feelings towards this one are all over the place. There were certain elements of this story that really sucked me in, whereas other parts of the story I didn’t care much about. There were some parts of the story that felt really well done, whereas other parts of the story seemed to fall a bit flat. There were some parts of the story I really enjoyed, whereas other parts of the story I didn’t care for all that much. It’s one of those books that had a paradoxical effect on me, even between chapters, and yet I still found myself rounding up. Why? Because once I got through my initial trouble with the first few chapters, I found myself addicted and in need of answers.

I love a good rock star romance, and this is a big reason why this one screamed out to me. Add in the BDSM element, and I was a goner. The former part I really enjoyed in this one – it wasn’t quite the usual rock star romance, and I enjoyed the slightly different take. It made things interesting, allowed for plenty of drama. The latter I wasn’t so sure about – I love BDSM stories, and this one was certainly unique, but I wasn’t sucked into this element of the story like I usually am. Sure, there were hot moments – however, it didn’t have my heart beating double time like most BDSM storylines. In fact, it was rather anti-climactic, rather tame, compared to what I am used to. It may just be that – how tame it was compared to my norm – that had me feeling as though I was a step removed, yet such was the case.

The story itself was interesting, though. As I said, it was somewhat different to what we usually get in a rock star romance, and I really appreciated this. The BDSM element was also something unusual, which I found myself intrigued by. I feel as though the speed was a bit out – some parts seemed to be dragged out, whereas other parts seemed to be glossed over – but I loved all that played out. There was plenty of drama for our main characters, and we get to see a lot of issues for the side characters as well. I’m really interested in seeing how the third book plays out, as I’m intrigued as to how the final story will come together for this one (hopefully by the time it is released I will have read book one and will be up to date).

Overall, I wasn’t as crazy about this one as I had hoped to be, but I was sucked into the story. I’m certainly interested in reading more of the author’s work.
Profile Image for Alecia (The Staircase Reader).
945 reviews65 followers
March 2, 2018
***arc received through netgalley***

4.5 stars!

Playing The Pauses by Michelle Hazen blew me away...completely!

Playing The Pauses by Michelle Hazen is a story about a musician, a quiet swoony bass player named Danny to be exact, and a tour manager named Kate.

Danny is lost sexually and looking for a way to find himself again. He's a dominant who knows how to use a riding crop. Along the lines of his life, he hasn't always had the best experiences sexually so overtime he's withdrawn and hid that side of him. But the moment he sets his sights on his new tour manager, the feral beast that lives deep inside is desperate for a new awakening.

Playing The Pauses is told in Kate's point of view, which I though was very interesting. Usually when it comes to a rockstar romance novel the POV is either from both love interest sides or it's usually told from the musicians point of view. I however, really liked this approach!

Kate is a tour manager. She's been through it all and has seen it all. Until she meets Danny. She sees something in him that no one else sees and after a one night fling with the man himself, she's correct with her conclusion. This man is hiding his dominance and she'll do whatever it takes to help him find himself again. Even if it means giving up her heart in the process.

I was really intrigued by this novel, it's not everyday you come across a gem in a heavily populated romance world. This novel is just that! Danny's vibe is different from your normal domineering hero in novels. This man is quiet and introverted. He's a go with the flow type man. Except when it comes to protecting his loved ones, then this man is as fierce as they come.

I loved Danny and Kate's story. Their chemistry was overwhelming in only the best of ways. I have to admit, I was fanning my face with my notebook a couple of times. Danny with some rope and a riding crop. What could be sexier than that! Christian Grey, eat your heart out!

Not only are the sexy scenes on point, but the emotional level is also right up there. I felt the emotions bone deep. Honestly, starting this novel, I wasn't sure I was going to like it all that much.until a few chapters in and that is why I rated it a 4.5 star rating. It took me a little while to get into this novel and get a true feel for the characters, but when everything fell into place it was all over and I was addicted!

Overall, Playing The Pauses by Michelle Hazen was a great read and I look forward to seeing what this author has up her sleeve next! Definitely check this book out!


Find me here:
The Staircase Reader
Profile Image for ☆☆Hannah☆☆.
2,906 reviews37 followers
March 6, 2018
I read an ARC copy of this.

Overall I enjoyed it. I liked Kate and Danny. I thought that they worked good together. It was nice that they could enjoy some activities together. Especially since she had a hard time finding a guy that was into that. I did feel bad for Danny because he comes from a messed up family. Thankfully he has the band and Kate to make things better. Another thing I enjoyed was getting to see the previous couple and seeing how things are going for them. I hope that in the next book we will get an update with this couple too.
Profile Image for Marie Vasquez.
1,598 reviews73 followers
March 7, 2018
Overall: 4/5
Naughty Factor: 4/5
POV: Dual/1st person

If there’s ever been a couple who could play the pauses every bit as well as the melody, it’s us.

Playing the Pauses was a perfect follow up to A Cruel Kind of Beautiful. A bit of time has passed and now the Red Letters are on the fast train to stardom. Already touring and recording their own music, they are on their way to becoming one of the biggest names in the music scene.

“I can do whatever I want, go wherever I want. But I fucking love you, Kate. I can’t do that with anyone else.”

When Kate joins on as Tour Manager. She expects it to go just as every other tour before and arrives with her own preconceived notions about what to expect from Jax, Jera and Danny; however, she quickly learns that this trio is far from any band she’s worked with before and she ends up being drawn to each and every one of their personalities and can resist crossing her line of professionalism and forming friendships with Jera and Jax.

“All that time I was holding it in...holding out...I was just holding my breath for you.” -Danny

But Danny is a different story. In Playing the Pauses I got to see a whole different side of Danny. I thought I had a grasp on who he was, but I was SO wrong. There was so much more to Danny beneath the surface and Kate, seeing a kindred spirit in Danny, took it upon herself to peel those layers away and get to the core of what made Danny who he was. She took their time together and an opportunity to help him work through the deep rooted need to care for others and never caring for himself. He became a ‘people pleaser’ and, aside from his love of music and tattooing, completely lost sight of what makes him happy - in and out of bed. Katy opened him up to exploring that while allowing him to keep true to who it was. She was familiar with his kink and was willing to do what she could to help him find his way. And together, they were beautiful and sexy and it added so many layers of heat to the story.

“We’ve always been different from other people, but what makes us wrong for everyone else makes us exactly right for each other.” -Kate

I just adore the Red Letters band members. Their personalities are so different, yet they share such an incredible friendship that is only strengthened by their love and passion of music. With Jera’s story, it had a bit of comedy...I mean her personality is so playful and laid back, I couldn’t help but giggle often. Danny’s story is a bit more serious and a lot more sexy. I have a feeling that Jax’s book is going to be loaded with emotion. There’s a lot going on with him behind the scenes and I know once I get to know those details, his story is going to break my heart and put it back together again. I can’t wait!

Sex, Love and Rock & Roll series:
Fill Me 0.5 (a prequel)
A Cruel Kind of Beautiful #1
Playing the Pauses #2
Profile Image for Heather 123.
946 reviews7 followers
April 6, 2018
This is the second book in the series that I have read and like the first it's a three star review for me.

I really enjoyed parts of this book; it was incredibly interesting to read about Kate's job and her role in helping the band on their tour. It was something that I hadn't read about in other stories about bands on the road. So this was interesting to read from that perspective.

Some parts of this book just bugged me. The first encounter between Kate and Danny just seemed to come out of no where. I think they needed a few more days together on the road before that happened or at least a few moments where there was an obvious connection between the two. The scene on the patio was just like WTF....it didn't seem to fit with either character but especially Kate.

The focus of the story and the relationship between Danny and Kate was supposed to be about finding out what Danny enjoyed in the bedroom and if BDSM was really for him. However, the author glossed over that issue and the focus became on Kate realizing that she needed a dom even though she thought she didn't. The focus became more on Kate and less on Danny.
Profile Image for Sascha.
Author 5 books20 followers
March 7, 2018
Detailed and well-written, Playing the Pauses on the surface has everything I could want in a rock star novel yet half the way through, my attention waned mainly because of the pacing and the character of Kate who struck me as the epitome of a waffler.

For me, Kate and Danny never really clicked. From the description, I expected Kate to become Danny's sexual mentor, but that never came about. It was as if the thought had been tossed out there, maybe for titillation, but never came to fruition. There were toys, however. (Take that as you will.)

Playing the Pauses is in the category I affectionately call: your-mileage-may-vary. The novel will work for many, many readers, just, unfortunately, not me.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Cathy Geha.
3,550 reviews61 followers
March 4, 2018
Playing The Pauses by Michelle Hazen
Sex, Love and Rock & Roll #2

Intriguing, enticing and entertaining – three friends are on tour with their band, road crew and new tour manager. Kate Madsen is brought in at the last minute when the schedule manager needs medical care and is a firecracker with organizational skills the group desperately needs.

Little did the band know that they were given a blessing in Kate who whipped things into shape and made things flow.

Little did Kate know that she would meet a man that would challenge her in more ways than one – a man that might be more than just the bass guitarist for the band.

Little did Danny O’Neill know that Kate would be the woman who would help him rediscover parts of himself and also be the woman he will want to spend his life with.

This is a great story of camaraderie on the road and of friendships closer than family. It is a story of becoming honest with oneself and being willing to be honest with others. It is a romantic story with elements of BDSM that are in keeping with the story being told.

What did I like:
* Danny – what a strong, warm, giving man he is with talents not only on his bass guitar and ability to ink tattoos but in the bedroom, too.
* Kate – he strength of will, organizational skills, willingness to help others and sort out their problems are only the tip of the iceberg for a woman with some conflicts to sort through.
* The way Danny & Kate’s story unfolds
* The trust between Danny & Kate
* The love and friendship between Jera, Jax and Danny
* The feel of what it might be like to live in a tour bus
* Pretty much everything ;)

What I didn’t like?
* That it took Kate so long to get her issues sorted out…

I am hopeful that there will be another book for Jax and am curious how his story will unfold.

Thank you to NetGalley and Barclay Publicity for the ARC – This is my honest review.

5 Stars
Profile Image for Emily (Mrs B's Books).
1,518 reviews83 followers
May 6, 2018

My Review 4 STARS
Although this is book is part of a series it can totally be read as a stand alone. It is also the first time that i have read anything by this author.

A few things seem to get a little lost in this book, such as Danny wanting to find himself in his Dom ways, yet it always seems to be on Kate's pleasure, also being a Dom in bed, Danny is a bit of a push over otherwise, never really standing up for what HE wants rather than what other people want.

Other than Kate and Danny there is a great cast behind them, drummer Jera with her boyfriend Jacob, we have Jax who is almost on self destruct mode and the roadies behind them.

The first half of the book has them on tour together as the band, Jera, Jax and Danny are on tour with their band The Red Letters. Kate has taken over as tour manager and gets together with Danny. The next half is with them as a couple but doing their own thing with the push and pull of the slightly dysfunctional dynamics between them.

We do get a Happy Ever After but it takes a long time getting there and we end at the point that they have both made their decision. An epilogue would have been good as the ending did feel a little lacking.
Profile Image for Tami .
1,123 reviews33 followers
February 16, 2018

Very good rock star contemporary romance. I jumped into the middle of this series. I even forgot it was part of a series. I had no trouble whatsoever following along. This story sheds new light on the abstracts and political maneuverings that go on inside a band tour.

This review is based on the ARC provided by the author and/or the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Amy .
2,670 reviews
March 5, 2018
“Danny O’Neil is both kinds of my kryptonite–Dominate and musician and everything I never let myself have.”

Playing the Pauses is my first book by Michelle Hazen and it certainly won’t my last. Playing the Pauses hits all the marks for a rock star romance and then some. From sex to drama to love and everything in between, Playing the Pauses is definitely worth the read.

Playing the Pauses is the second book in the Sex, Love and Rock & Roll series, but can totally be read as a stand-alone novel. Playing the Pauses follows the story of Danny and Kate. Kate is strong, and independent. She’s got her own ideals and goals and isn’t about to let a man tie her down. However, she never planned on Danny. Danny is the ultimate krytonite. He’s smart and sexy. Add in a musician and tattoo artist and you have the ultimate fix. Danny is everything that Kate wants, but shouldn’t have. But staying away is not possible….

Playing the Pauses was fast paced and entertaining. I fell in love with the characters and the story from the very first page and couldn’t wait to see where the story was going to go. The chemistry between Danny and Kate was intense and the two of them burned up the pages together. Sexually, these two were on fire. From the BDSM moments to bringing their fantasies to life, I could not tear my eyes from the pages. I also really enjoyed the push and pull between the two of them. They were both very stubborn, yet at the same time, Danny knew what he wanted and was not afraid to go after what he wanted.

Overall, I thought this book was a really enjoyable read. I thought Playing the Pauses was well written and paced well. I loved getting to know the characters and was excited to see how their story was going to play out. This book hit all the marks for a fun and sexy rock star romance. This is my first book by this author and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

*I provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 18 books1,313 followers
January 21, 2018
With relentless chemistry and snappy writing, it's impossible not to become a die-hard groupie for Danny and Kate and The Red Letters. The dramatic highs and lows of the backstage rock world are ruthlessly vivid. I devoured this book until the last page.
Profile Image for Rosa Sharon (iScream Book Blog).
1,867 reviews293 followers
March 5, 2018
"The road, the music...it's where I belong. It fits my body and my brain and all my flaws."

Yeah, it was the guitar on the cover that caught my attention and convinced me to give it a try. I'm seriously addicted to rockstar romance and book covers with guitars on them. You should see my bookshelves. While this is a series, I read Playing the Pauses as a standalone. It was my introduction to Michelle Hazen's writing and I'm glad to have stumbled upon her work.

While I was sometimes frustrated with Kate because I wanted her to quit being so hard-headed, I also connected with her character. I share many of her OCD tendencies and understand her need to fix everything and take care of everyone, except herself. I also appreciate that she's aware of herself, admitting that, "I am the kind of person who needs to be needed..." When she lucks into a job as a replacement tour manager for the up-and-coming band, Red Letters, she's determined to prove herself. It's just the opportunity she needs to move up in the industry. Unfortunately, her predecessor left a mess for her to clean up and she has to lay it out for the band members and hope they will support her plan to dig them out of the mess they didn't even know they were in. What she doesn't expect is to fall for them... all of them.

She's never worked with a band that is so close to each other. They are a true family that loves and supports each other and they make her feel like she's one of them. She longs to let herself be pulled in, but her self-protective instincts keep reminding her that this is a temporary gig and she'll be moving on to another band soon.

All that talking to herself doesn't seem to be working. She knows it's a bad idea to hook up with Danny, the dark, mysterious, beautifully inked bass player that seems to be able to read her mind. He seems to know exactly what she wants and needs without her saying a word. Which is a good thing because she can't bring herself to share that part of herself. But that doesn't stop her from craving it, and him.

The chemistry between Danny & Kate is intense. The author did a great job of making me feel their passion for each other. I was fully onboard the #Kanny fusion and mentally encouraged them to take a chance on a future together. Kate worried that, "I want into his life and I know I can't do that without giving up my own." Surely they can find a way to overcome the many obstacles standing in their way, right?

I really dug the plentiful music industry details in this story. I enjoyed meeting the other band members and got drawn into their lives, wanting to know more. I purchased the first two books in this series and I plan to go back and read them. And I'll most definitely be keeping my eye out for the release of Jax's story. The line forms here...
Profile Image for Terry.
1,086 reviews
March 4, 2018
1/2 Stars!

Kate has been working as a Tour Manager since she was 18 and she has just signed on last minute for the up and coming band "The Red Letters". Instantly she can feel the heat coming off the base player Danny, but all the brooding musician does is growl at her. All it takes is one night on his hotel balcony when there bodies sing to each other and the attraction begins. Danny isn't your normal Dom because all he wants is to give pleasure to woman he is with and not take any pleasure for himself, so he asks Kate to help him.

I just fell in love with these two characters ... all they want to do is help others and put themselves last. You know that they love each other deeply, but with them both being selfless, you begin to wonder if they are ever gonna get to have their happily-ever-after. This is the first book I have read in this series and it was so good that now I will have to go back to the beginning and read about Jera and Jacob. And I can't wait for Jax's book because you just know it's gonna be a good one.

I received an ARC courtesy of Barclay Publicity through NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
Profile Image for Reads & Reviews.
646 reviews14 followers
March 9, 2018
When I met the Cheeto-eating Danny O'Neil in Michelle Hazen's A Cruel Kind of Beautiful I actually thought he was the broody sidekick. He was sort of an afterthought for me. I'm not sure if it's because I was just so focused on Jera and Jacob or because I can be single-minded when reading, missing important cues, but he just seemed like that broody man-child that we all know. Truthfully, he starts Playing the Pauses exactly like that. Then, Kate Madsen describes his hands. His hands. Just HIS HANDS. And, I was done. When he opened his eyes, I was lost. This seems sort of shallow, right? Except, that hand description and the look in his eyes? It's DANNY.

"Long, agile fingers sprawled on his knees, with a man's thick knuckles and artist's delicate bones. On the widest joint of his index finger is a tattoo of a bass clef and that finger taps restlessly while the rest of him is quiet."

He's quiet and strong. He's restless. Music flows from him like the blood in his veins.

"But then Danny opens his eyes and I freeze as their intensity crackles down my body and nails me straight in the panties. He is pure, dark sex appeal, full-strength delicious kink."

There's more than meets the eye with him and as I read this line, I realized that I had completely misjudged this man. In this moment, I was Kate, discovering something unexpected and, for her, life changing. For me, I found a book that gripped me from page one until I closed the book. Danny and Kate's love story is original, honest, raw, and fulfilling as they work towards their happily ever after.

At the heart of Playing the Pauses is two people who have struggled with their sexuality amidst the world of BDSM. Both know their kink, but have found that they lose themselves in the pursuit of it. When they meet, Danny and Kate are on a hiatus from the lifestyle, but in one of the sexiest scenes I've ever read, they find what they've been missing. Though she's hesitant to get involved with Danny (after all, she is his band's tour manager) she's drawn to his need to find out what it is that satisfies him in the bedroom and naïvely thinks she can help him along while staying emotionally distant. You know what they say about the best laid plans.

Danny's exploration soon turns into a passionate affair between two people who need control, but in completely different ways. Kate's a walking Day-Timer Planner with a Mary Poppins handbag who has every moment of every day planned out and the ability to fix things when they don't work out. She's also a submissive who's decided that she can't giveaway that part of herself anymore because she hasn't found a partner who doesn't demand all of her. Danny is a dominant who quietly flies by the seat of his pants, concerned only with his music and the small group of people he cares about. The only time he demands control is during sex. When he realizes that he's pleasing everyone but himself it's soul crushing.

It's hard not to connect with these characters. Kate found herself responsible for a needy parent at a young age and refuses to sacrifice her career for anyone or anything. She builds a wall around herself that keeps attachments at bay because she's afraid she'll end up dependent on others like her mother did. Danny is fiercely protective of those he loves and learned at a young age to keep quiet, though he doesn't miss a thing. He can lose himself for hours designing a tattoo or sitting in the back of a van playing his bass. As they fall in love, it was beautiful to watch Danny so open and matter of fact about it, even as Kate freaks out, trying to figure out a plan that will allow them to be together. More so, it was beautiful to watch two people, who have suffered in their romantic relationships, find that person that they can be themselves with. Someone who gets their kink, but more importantly gets who they are and what's important to them and says "hey, we don't have to sacrifice one thing for another, let's live in the moment".

Have I mentioned the music? The music is as much a main character in Playing the Pauses as Danny or Kate. Hazen is a master of detail in this book from the little snippets about the bands' roadies that bring them to life to the intricacies of Kate's job as tour manager. She writes scenes of The Red Letters on stage that transport the reader to the front row and you feel the music. There wasn't a moment I was reading that I didn't feel like I was right there, on the tour bus, jamming with the band members or listening to Clancy snore. I loved it.

And, while this could be read as a standalone, I don't recommend it. Like the band members that make up The Red Letters, this series is perfectly woven together and one without the other would be missing something.

5 stars for Playing the Pauses. Heat level: 3.5
February 15, 2018
Playing the Pauses by Michelle Hazen

I am voluntarily reviewing this arc.

Playing the Pauses is book 2 in this series. It’s Danny’s book. This series is about an aspiring band and the three band mates. Book 1 is Jera’s book, and if you didn’t read it...please, stop what you are doing and do so now. Jera is the drummer and song writer and starter of the band. Danny is her life long best friend. Danny is extremely, complicated. He doesn’t know what he wants other than his friendship with Jera and his band, and his tattoo drawings. Then comes their new tour manager, Kate, and they just, fit. Can they have a lasting relationship with him in a band and her traveling managing tour’s?
This book had heat and loyalty and passion. Danny is so vulnerable and sweet. So many times in this book I just wanted to hug him because he just touched my heart with how raw he was. As for Kate, she is a woman who, while trying to help others, discovers herself. This really is a great read! I can’t wait until the next book! I recommend it whole heartily.

Profile Image for Donna Maguire.
4,304 reviews101 followers
March 5, 2018

This is the second book that I have read by Michelle and the second in this series. For me it is fine to read as a standalone but it does give details of what happened in the previous book, so if you are planning on reading the series it will be best to read book 1 before you start this one.

This book is a very easy read, it didn’t take me very long at all to read it and I flew through the pages, I was going to put it down but then read ‘just one more chapter’ and before I knew it I had finished!

Kate is a great character and I can imagine that she is the typical Tour Manager, I loved it when she emptied her bag at the airport (not a spoiler to the plot so don’t worry!) but it made me think about how much bands do depend on the Manager and what they expect from them – not a job I would ever want to do!!

Five stars from me – very highly recommended and a thoroughly enjoyable story!
107 reviews6 followers
March 4, 2018
I received this book as an ARC. This is my honest, freely given review.
This is a riveting story that reaches out and pulls you into the gritty side of what touring with a rock band might be like. It revolves around a three member rock group called The Red Letters, that is on it's first tour as headliners, and a last minute replacement tour manager.
Michelle Hazen has you laughing with the brilliantly witten banter between the band and the roadies and the antics they pull. She warms your heart with the love between the band members and then reaches in and tears it to pieces. At times you sitting on the edge of your seat to see what will happen next. More than a few spots may have you a litte over heated, as it is rife with sexual tention.
Warning, once you start reading, you won't put it down!
Ruth Newton
Profile Image for Adele Buck.
Author 8 books104 followers
February 11, 2018
4.5 stars.

Michelle's writing is like dark chocolate mousse-rich, intense, flavorful, with just enough air to keep things light. She doesn't just put you in the scene, you're SLAMMED into the scene. It's a visceral experience: vivid and messy and real. The entire book is told from Kate's point of view, and if you like competence porn, you'll love Kate. She's organized and on top of things, with enough creativity and experience to roll with the inevitable unexpected twists of life on the road. If you like your rock stars broody and intense, well. Danny will be your catnip.

I was given an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Obsessive Book Nerd Lauren.
536 reviews29 followers
February 27, 2018
Danny's story surprised me. I knew I would like the story, as I was already a fan of Hazen's writing style and The Red Letters. But I didn't know how much I was going to adore Danny and Kate. Since the story is told from Kate's POV, right off the bat I was a fan and connecter with her. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fall for Danny since we don't his POV but as Kate fell, I fell. And I just absolutely love how an author can make me fall in love along with the characters in the book.

If you follow my reviews, you will know how much I love series that revolve around a tight-knit group of friends. Even though there are only really three of them, I love how much of the whole band we get throughout the story. I could follow The Red Letters in real life and I so badly wish they were real!

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. To read more reviews like this one, check out Obsessive Book Nerd!
Profile Image for Isha Coleman.
6,788 reviews130 followers
February 28, 2018
Playing the Pauses (Sex, Love, and Rock & Roll, #2) by Michelle Hazen  
They say opposites attract. Danny and Kate put that theory to the test. Playing the Pauses speaks to the idiosyncrasies that makes us human, while pushing the boundaries of what love really is. Nobody writes taboo quite like Michelle Hazen. Kate and Danny challenge each other, but they expose insecurities and heal deep seated scars with a lovers touch and a heart's kind words. It pays to be naughty when your playing for keeps. Out of ugly moments come precious gifts wrapped in everlasting love.
2,758 reviews70 followers
March 5, 2018
I volunteered to review an ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.

This is different from the usual rockstar romances I've read. The kink is well done and not sensationalised. There's solid safe-word usage and the author seems to know what she's talking about or at least done a crap tonne of research into the scene.

This was the first time this year I've stayed up until 4am to finish a book.
Profile Image for Toni.
786 reviews24 followers
March 5, 2018
Read for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Danny and Kate had some serious chemistry and I loved the push and pull of the two main characters, especially Danny with his quiet intensity and strength. It was a great read and I look forward to reading more from this author.
Profile Image for Faith89 .
2,258 reviews41 followers
March 9, 2018
3.5 stars
copy received for honest review
This is book 2 in the series. It can be read as a standalone but book one introduced Danny.
I started off really liking the book and the characters. Kate came off as a really together, confident woman that knew what she wanted. Danny was the quiet but intense bass player/tattoo artist of the band she has to manager through a tour. Somewhere towards the middle Kate became a little less confident. She shot holes in her relationship with Danny without any solid reasons. It got a little tiresome. Danny was struggling with his sexual dominance and Kate did help him with that but she tried to keep it just at sex. I enjoyed some of the funny banter and inner dialogue. The writing was good. The behind the scenes Rock and Roll life was not glamorized. the characters were developed and the story flowed well.
Profile Image for Illi.
74 reviews
February 8, 2018
Wow!! Kate & Danny are one hot couple! I really enjoyed reading there story. Loved the intensity they had going on. The relationship build up was greats. Hadn’t been sucked into a story in a while.

Kate is independent & strong but you see a side to her where she is soft & girly. I loved that she loved her job. I’ve never really read a story about a tour manager, this definitely shed some light on there insane job. Loved that while she enjoyed her time with Danny she didn’t want to be judge by her peers. She wanted to be define by her work skills not who she sleeps with. I looooved her for that & can respect that.

Danny he was something else, this brooding character that really has the no shits given vibe to a T! He was amazing and did everything in his power to always look out for his loved ones. No matter the time or day his loyalty is strong.

I really enjoyed the story, this is a first from this author but she left me wanting more.
Profile Image for Abby .
1,768 reviews39 followers
March 8, 2018
Wow! This book was magic, ya'll! Truly blown away. I have to let my feelings sort out before I write my full review ...

Wowwwwww! This was a beautifully written, compelling, captivating read. I was completely sucked in to Kate and Danny's journey. There was an instant attraction and deep knowledge between Kate and Danny. Things happened fast with them, yet worked. Kate's job as a tour manager is to keep things running smoothly for The Red Letters. She immediately connects with Jera, but the draw she has to Danny has her off balance. She's there for a job only, no shenanigans. She enjoys her job and she actually likes The Red Letters. Danny gets past her defenses bit-by-bit and soon their chemistry is too hard to ignore. I enjoyed watching their relationship evolve, I loved the music/rock star aspect of this book! I enjoyed every minute they had with each other and I wanted them to have MORE. They couldn't have been more perfect for each other and this story captured me and didn't let me go, even after I read The End. While I would suggest reading A Cruel Kind of Beautiful first, I HIGHLY recommend this read.
Profile Image for Kim.
1,438 reviews30 followers
March 9, 2018
4.5 stars

I do love a good rocker romance and BDSM themed stories are a favorite too, so when I saw the blurb for this book I had to give it a try! Playing the Pauses was a wonderfully unique story from others I have read in either of the tropes thanks to the author's way of blending both worlds.

Kate loves being a tour manager, but as a young woman just breaking into the business she has to work to get every job assignment. She loves the sound of The Red Letters and sees big things in their future, so she jumps at the chance to work with them despite the fact their former tour manager left her a heck of a mess to clean up.  Their first meeting in the airport goes about as well as it could, but she didn't expect their bassist Danny to turn out to be her personal form of kryptonite. She has always melted for musicians, particularly one with talented fingers, but when that gorgeous and talented man is also a Dom... well, she is in all sorts of trouble!

Kate swore off Doms two years ago and she has held strong on that ban for good reason. She embraces submitting behind closed doors, but when it comes to real life, the men in her past just couldn't seem to stop trying to control her or make decisions for her there either. She is damn good at her job and she will not give that up for any man, but Danny is going to seriously test her resolve.

Danny can't deny his tendencies, but he has taken a step back from that world in order to try to find himself again.  The band is starting to find success and the need for control hasn't disappeared from his life, but behind closed doors he feels a bit lost when it comes to embracing his own kinks rather than just fulfilling the needs of the subs he has been with. After one smokin' hot encounter with Kate, he knows they both feel the connection but he bolts when the intensity leaves them both a little unsettled and fears encroach on the moment.

Kate stands to lose everything she has worked so hard to build if she gets involved with Danny. If word gets out, she will be labeled as anything from a groupie to an untalented opportunist who slept her way into her job. But when Danny lays out his proposal to explore his true interests, she just can't bring herself to say no despite the risks.  He ignites a craving in her that she has long tried to deny, but the man himself is just as irresistible with his silent strength and instinctive ability to read her like a book.

I loved that the story focused on the exploration of the relationship between Kate and Danny as well as Kate and the rest of the band who have formed their own family over the years. The concerts and travel were certainly a big part of their life, but the focus wasn't always on their time on stage and the groupies didn't factor into Kate and Danny's relationship in any way. I thought the author did a wonderful job with character development, and she cranked up the angst level in the second half of the book as the looming tour end meant difficult decisions to be made. Does finding love mean that Kate has to give up her hopes and dreams, or can they find a way to compromise?

I loved Jera and Jax, Danny's two other bandmates, and I am really looking forward to diving into Jera's story soon while waiting on Jax's story to come along.  If you love either rock star romances or stories that delve into the BDSM world, I definitely recommend Playing the Pauses! It is light enough on the BDSM element that those who don't want to be fully immersed into that world will be able to enjoy the story, and it is a standalone romance that focuses on emotional depth and family while being set in the world of rock stars.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
188 reviews4 followers
March 7, 2018
Playing the Pauses is the perfect combination of Hot, angst and Rock & Roll! I couldn’t putting down.

Kate is a young tour manager, she loves the music and is essential to bring it to the stages all over the world. Danny is bassist of an up coming band, with the world at his feet.

I can explain how much I loved these two from the start and what a roller coaster of a book this is.

Kate is the kind of girl I want as a BFF . Forget boy scouts, she’s ready for anything, from baby wipes to drugs, whatever her musician needs she’s got it on her purse. She’s strong and independent. Loves music and life on the road.

Danny is the quiet type. He cares for everyone around him, deeply, but he doesn’t show it. But is his slient strengh Danny is just as lost as everyone else, trying to find himself while figuring put how to navigate his band’s new found fame.

I really love how the two of them come together. Both are natural caretakers, putting everyone needs before their own. After one passionate night, Kate agrees to help Danny find what he’s missing in his sex life while indulging herself in her wilder taste.

The book is beautifully written. The steamy scenes are poetry! To have someone describe the bdsm scenes is such a raw and emotional way without being crude is something you don’t find in every book. And I was really surprised at how well the author manage to show so much vulnerability in those scenes.

Playing the Pauses is a jorney. Kate and Danny are trying to find themselves and figuring out their place in a constanct moving world. They fot togather perfectly but it doesn’t come without some bumps.
I couldn’t puy it down but I didn’t want it to end.

The secondary characters are a great addition and help the story move forward. Each band member and roadie is different and full of life. And even the music is a character that demands the reader’s attention. As a music lover and fan of rock I felt so intuned with the descriptions, not just about the music but about the feeling of being in a concert.

This is the second book in the series but can be read as a stand alone (I did) but after meeting Kate and Danny and the rest of the crew you’ll crave for more!
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