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Book Critique: Cherish Hard (Hard Play Series #1)

For review of all books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation:  Another eye candy kind-of plot that not only pleases the primary senses of the readers, but also touches the romantic hearts who want a happy ending, despite the dark under currents.

Cherish Hard is the first book in the Hard Play Series by Nalini Singh published in November of 2017. The primary plot revolves around Sailor Bishop - the second son in the Bishop-Esera Clan - and Isalind "Isa" Magdalena Rain-Stefansdottir - an English school teacher who works at the school where Sailor has his landscaping job.

This series focuses on the Bishop-Esera clan that we met in the second book, Rock Hard, in the Rock Kiss Series. A family that totally revolves around Rugby, love, friendship and above all deep emotional family bonds. We had seen Gabriel "Gabe" Bishop's, the oldest son of the clan, story in that book where he falls in love with Charlotte "Charlie" Baird. However, in Rock Wedding, Nalini Singh mentions that since she hadn't given a proper wedding for Gabe and Charlie, she would create a spin-off on the Bishop-Esera clan leading upto their wedding. Which means we will have more books coming up soon, and perhaps we will see the Schoolboy Choir Band members again. This is the first story of the remaining members of the clan.

Sailor "Sail" Bishop has no time for distractions or veer away from his goal in his business. But in walks Isalind "Isa" Rain and plants a big one on his lips when all his plans start disintegrating. But is Isa his distraction or his goal? As for Isa, she rather have a one-night stand with a gorilla than trust a relationship with a man. Yet, she falls for Sailor. Where will their roads lead, and the dance they perform to the music they create, is charming to watch as readers.

For a strong person such as Sailor he has his demons, just as Isa has hers. Yet, they fit perfectly like two pieces of a puzzle. The way each fight their demons and find middle ground is an inspiration to so many couples who hesitate to cross that line and meld. 

The timeline of this plot is set prior to when Rock Hard occurs. So we see younger versions of the Bishop-Esera clan all through, with no sight of any characters from the Rock Kiss series, which is expected. However, it was really charming to see the younger versions of the clan, get to know them, and see how the characters grow as well.

The last name of Isalind Rain, Nalini pens as Rain-Stefansdottir. Obviously Stefansdottir being from her father, Stefan. But if you notice, the name is so comical - it literally reads as "Stefan's Daughter". Very funny, isn't it. Nalini inserts quite a few of these funny tit-bits all along adding humor to the heavy romance.

Nalini has Nayna Sharma, Isa's best friend, and Raj's story as a sub-plot all through the story. But I have a feeling she will spring Nayna and Raj on us pretty soon. Just like how she had penned Rock Addiction and Rock Hard - stories of Fox and Molly in Rock Addiction; and Gabriel and Charlie in Rock Hard - where the timelines intertwine and readers get to see the same scene from two different points of view. Cant wait to see that happen for real - I mean my gut feeling turn real. 

Nalini has each chapter with a funny title, just like how she had done with Rock Hard plot when she was weaving the story around Gabriel and Charlie. Perhaps this is the theme she would follow for the Hard Play series. Although she has little poems either taken from famous poets (Lord Byron, Nikita Gill) or written by herself, on behalf of her characters, inserted during the major turning points of the story-line. 

Just like her other books, the plot is heavily loaded with erotic and romantic scenes, but there is a strong base to the plot keeping it away from it becoming just a juicy plot. She adds a lot of inconsequential details and sub-plots which would clearly become main plots soon. There is a bit of repeat paraphrasing.

Another eye candy kind-of plot that not only pleases the primary senses of the readers, but also touches the romantic hearts who want a happy ending, despite the dark under currents. Looking forward to see the stories of the rest of the brothers and any sub-characters who pop up along the way.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Isalind Rain's family includes - her mother Jacqueline Rain (CEO to Crafty Corners), father Stefan, step-siblings Catie and Harlow. 

b. Catie lost her legs in an accident as a child, and uses prosthetic legs. 

c. Nayna Sharma is Isa's best friend. Dates Sailor's Rugby buddy Raj. She has an elder sister - Madhuri - who had eloped with a guy at the age of nineteen and now is back with the family after that guy has left her. She has a grandmother and her parents. 

d. Nayna and Raj seem to be a couple at the end of the plot.

e. Catie and Danny seem to have a fire going on between them. They are a mere 13 and 14 years in this plot, but will Nalini spin a plot between them eventually when they grow up. We have to wait and see.

f. Isa and Sailor get married at the end of the plot, and have a baby named Emmaline. 

g. Jake Esera also has a girlfriend at the end of the plot, but no mention of her name or anything beyond that.

h. Towards the end of the plot, we see that Sailor forms his Bishop Gardening enterprise, to which Nayna works as the CFO.

2. Sub Plots:

a. From the Rock Kiss Series:

i. Members of the Schoolboy Choir Band: All of them get married to their chosen partners in Rock Wedding.

1) Zachary Fox - lead singer. Married to Molly Webster and their story told in Rock Addiction

2) David Rivera - the drummer. Married to Thea Arsana, their publicist; and story told in Rock Courtship

3) Noah St. John - the guitarist. Married to Kathleen "Kit" Devingy and their story told in Rock Redemption.

4) Abraham "Abe" Joshua Bellamy - the keyboardist. Remarried to his ex-wife, Sarah Bellamy; has a son, Theodore "Theo" Gregory Bellamy, at the end of Rock Wedding, which gives their story.

ii. In Rock Courtship, we are introduced to David Rivera's two brothers. But Nalini Singh mentions only name of one brother - Zeke - but doesn’t give the name of his second brother. Which she doesn’t do even at the end of the series. However, she does hint at plausible love stories between Thea's sisters and David's brothers. May be Nalini will bring them back in a different series spinning-off from this series

iii. In Rock Wedding, Nalini has a hot pink Ferrari with diamantes and pink fur on the foot pedals. I wonder who it belongs to. Nalini doesn’t explore that further in the plot although she does indicate that she has two new short stories on her website that will give the readers more insight into the pink Ferrari and other little inconsequential scenes she has given us all through this plot.  Have to soon find those newsletters and read to satisfy my curiosity.

b. Bishop-Esera clan that were introduced to us in the Rock Hard book of the Rock Kiss Series:

i. Joseph and Alison Esera - parents of the clan, adopted father to Gabriel and Sailor.

ii. Gabriel "Gabe" Bishop - First son of Alison and Brian Bishop; falls in love with Charlotte "Charlie" Baird. Story told in Rock Hard. However, in Rock Wedding, we are intimidated that they are married, although Nalini doesn’t have a single chapter for their wedding in that series. As promised to the readers, she has this spin-off started leading upto their wedding.

iii. Sailor "Sail" Bishop - second son of Alison and Brian Bishop; married to Isalind "Isa" Magdalena Rain-Stefansdottir and daughter Emmaline "Sweetiepie"

iv. Jacob "Jake" Esera - third son, step-sibling to Gabe and Sailor through Joseph Esera; has a daughter Esme, wife shown as deceased

v. Daniel "Danny" Esera - fourth son, step-sibling to Gabe and Sailor through Joseph Esera; unmarried still as of Rock Hard.

vi. Brian Bishop - Gabriel and Sailor's birth father who abandoned them as kids. 

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