Book Critique: Rock Hard (Rock Kiss Series #2)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation:  Fantasy romance that brings the glitzy world of fame and the ordinary pleasures a perfect mate can give, along with the darker undersides of both worlds. Easy read for those sunny warm days, or cuddly cool days.

Rock Hard is the second book in the Rock Kiss Series by Nalini Singh originally published in March of 2015. The central plot revolves around Charlotte "Charlie" Baird - Molly Webster's best friend - and Gabriel Bishop - her new boss. The plot is set in Auckland, New Zealand.

The series revolves around the four members of the Schoolboy Choir rock band who met as school mates but form a family within themselves with music. Readers will share their personal and professional lives, their hard pasts making them the media's best bad wolves; and the leading ladies who capture the eyes of these bad wolves and like to get tamed; above all a sense of strong family, strength and support in every walk of life.

Although I had read this book in January itself, hadn't posted the review until I read the novella, Rock Courtship. Now that I have completed reading that and posting its review, here is my take on the next book in the series.

There had been considerable details shown about Noah, the guitarist of the band, in the novella, Rock Courtship, so I expected it to be a clean segue into her next plot for Nalini. Instead, she veers off a bit from the members of the band, and focuses this plot around Molly's friend Charlotte. I wonder why the change in the track.

We met Charlotte "Charlie" Baird in the first book, Rock Addiction, as Molly's best friend from her school and works as a personal assistant to the CEO of Saxon & Archer. Incidentally Gabriel Bishop joins as the new CEO and her life takes a turn that she had never imagined it to take.

The snarling t-rex of a boss, Gabriel Bishop, does everything in his power to keep Charlie at his beck and call, with an ulterior motive. But Charlie, a meek mouse, has a difficult past that she keeps it locked and lives in a shell. A shell that Gabriel is determined to break and get underneath her feathers. And the game is on.

If we look at the story timeline, Nalini had set this plot in parallel to Rock Addiction where we see Fox and Molly's story. So it follows to see some of the scenes from that story we see from Charlie's point of view, that we had already read in that book from Molly's side.

The central plot revolves around abuse - be it by a parent or by a partner. Unfortunately what Charlie goes through is far more harder than what Gabriel faces. None the less Nalini touches on a very sensitive topic with such gentleness that even though it gives the reader shivers, it also leaves the reader with a wave of happiness when Charlie and Gabriel come out with flying colors and roaring success. She also weaves in tons of humor around that harsh and dark topic to take away the heaviness.

Nalini gives readers a lot more into Gabriel's family and their lives. I am wondering if she will be spinning a plot for those characters as well. We just have to wait and see. On the other hand, she gives a play by play of a Rugby game, that piqued my interest. Perhaps Rugby isn't that hard and tough a game as everyone seems to think, and it might actually be entertaining.

Again, Nalini writes the book in two parts - In Part I she pits Charlie against Gabriel where-in Charlie's shell starts to melt a bit; In Part II she elevates the characters melding their lives and giving closures to them. Nalini however starts every chapter with funny titles that definitely lead the readers into expecting what they could see.

Some of the language Nalini uses, is not common to either British or American English I know of. For instance, "Hey, no lip" that I did not know meant "to not to give sass or be disrespectful". Definitely not from this side of the world's English from my perspective. 

There are a lot of "F" bombs that reminded me of Christine Feehan's Shadow Series and Torpedo Ink Series books. But those are a bit gorier and grittier compared to what Nalini Singh has put forth.

There is a bit of repeat paraphrasing seen. Yet, it has been a pleasure and easy read with few surprising turns. Interesting that if we place a timeline, Nalini had set this book in parallel to Rock Addiction where we see Molly and Fox's story. Now I cant wait to pick up the next book in the series. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Gabriel Bishop's family included - his adopted father Joseph Esera, his mother, his own brother, Sailor Bishop, and his brothers with Joseph as father - Jacob "Jake" Esera and Daniel "Danny" Esera.

b. Sailor Bishop's family included his wife Isalind "Isa" and daughter Emmaline "Sweetiepie"; while Jake Esera's family included his daughter Esme, wife shown as deceased. Danny is unmarried still. 

c. Didn’t know that Australia, New Zealand and some of the surrounding islands are called collectively as Australasia. More about it here

d. At the end of the plot, Gabriel and Charlie get engaged to be married.

2. Sub Plots:

a. Members of the Schoolboy Choir Band:

i. Zachary Fox - lead singer. Engaged to be married to Molly Webster. Story told in Rock Addiction.

ii. David Rivera - the drummer - Engaged to be married to Thea Arsana, their publicist. Story told in Rock Courtship.

iii. Noah (guitarist of the band)

iv. Abe (the keyboardist)

b. Extended Friends and Family of the Band and their better halves:

i. Justin Chan (Attorney for the band); 

ii. Kathleen "Kit" Devingy - famous Hollywood actress, comes with her own share of past that involves a stalker.

c. Noah is shown to be interested in Kathleen in the first book. Another potential book in future for the series. 

d. Abe has an ex-wife and a bitter past as well., per Rock Courtship.

3. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 4, Line 3 from bottom, shouldn't it be "…reached into pants pocket…"?


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