Thanks once again go to Monika, who sent over her review for Nalini Singh‘s latest Rock Kiss book, Rock Wedding. I loved me some Rock Hard – that was a total winner for me. Couldn’t get enough of Charlie and T-Rex. I was meh about picking up Noah and Kit’s story until I started reading, and then I really enjoyed it. But for some reason right from the start I haven’t been all that interested in Abe and Sarah’s story, and I didn’t know quite why. But from what Monika said, I might not be alone…
What Monika said…
Too much… of everything (especially shirts, swearing, sweetness and weddings)
I’ve read almost everything Nalini Singh has ever written and loved all of it (some more and some a bit less), so it pains me to write a less than stellar review and rate one of her books only 3 stars.
This was also the first Nalini Singh book I did not finish in a day or two, but which I had to force myself to continue reading, and I only plodded thru to the end because I needed to write a review.
But first things first: this is the fifth story in the Rock Kiss series, and it’s about Abe and Sarah, of whom we have seen glimpses in previous installments. Abe is the band’s keyboard player and sometime vocalist and he has serious abuse problems: drugs, drinks, and dimwitted groupies, he does it all. Sometime along the way he inexplicably falls in lust with Sarah, marries her, doesn’t change his habits and treats her like dirt, until finally she can’t take it anymore and divorces his ass (takes her long enough). Then, at the end of Rock Redemption, at the Zenith event, we see Sarah get slapped around by her new boyfriend. The band members rally behind her and Abe finally realizes that he is still very much in love with Sarah and finally decides to get his shit together and seeks help for his abuse problems. So, that’s were we stand at the beginning of this book.
I actually do like second chance and/or redemption stories, but somehow this one didn’t click for me. I think the main reason was the characterization of the two main protagonists. I had a difficult time to swallow the complete about-turn in Abe’s behavior towards Sarah: when they were married before he behaved like a complete heel to her, he treated her as convenient fuck-buddy and occasional arm-candy, but otherwise he kept emotionally distant from her, was not interested in anything about her as a person, about her past or what her interests were or even her dreams. And even though he did not physically lay a hand on her, he would psychically abuse her every time he went into a drug-induced fit of rage. But say you paint you hero that way (and I do love reformed bad boys), but then they at least need a horrible past to explain their behavior, even though there is no excuse for it. But far from it, Abe is from a loving, supportive upper middle-class family and ever since he met the guys from Schoolboy Choir his friends have stood by him and had his back. There is a huge personal tragedy in his past, but for me it’s just not enough of a justification.
In comparison I liked Sarah a bit more, even though (at least in the beginning of the book) she was as close to a doormat as I could stand. She is deeply insecure and very needy, and lets Abe get away with shit and tries to be supportive. Most of this I can overlook, because she was very young when she met Abe, all alone in the world, and she did have a horrible past, so I could kind of relate to her for being awestruck by being noticed by a rock star and also her need to cling to the person that she believed loved her even a little. I also liked that after her divorce she started to build her own life and career, although – even with the suspension of disbelief – I had a hard time believing how she went in two or three years from a rather low-end job to owning her own successful business, especially as apart from going to one or two meetings and making a few phone calls we never see her working.
Now to some other problems in this book, chief among them the (needless) repetition: a reviewer of Allegiance of Honor complained that there were a gazillion descriptions of the clothes that the characters wore and I went “come on, describing dresses adds texture to the story and besides, I did not even notice it”. Unfortunately I did notice here, mostly because Abe is always wearing a variation of the same thing, mainly a suit, either black, or charcoal or dark grey, with either a black, charcoal or dark grey shirt. Sadly, the repetition does not end there: Sarah is endlessy fascinated by his stunning physique and his bulging biceps. We already know Abe is a hunk, so no need to reiterate it every time he strips. She in turn is repeatedly described as feeling too tall and too curvy, and even though she claims she is (finally) happy with her body the constant preoccupation with said body actually creates the impression of an unhealthy attitude towards one’s own body image.
Obviously I am the last person who should complain about the occasional swear word, and really I don’t mind swearing, but it should at least be creative. Fuck, fucker, fucking appear a total of 91 times, mostly used either as an expletive or an intensifier and only three times to actually refer to intercourse, so it was just a bit too much for me.
Nothing against a feel-good romance but there was just too much of the happy feeling in this book. Aside from the main protagonists, everybody is deliriously happy all the time, deeply and disgustingly in love (they don’t even fight so that they can have make-up sex), and to top it off, there are no less than four! perfect weddings that naturally go off without even the tiniest hitch! Sorry, but ‘gag’! It’s like eating bar after bar of sinful chocolate, until you get sick of it and crave something savory! And there is even more ‘sweetness’, but I won’t mention it, because it would be a major spoiler!
So now I have to go find me some gritty UF novel with a kick-ass heroine who worries more about her fighting prowess than her looks or some dark romance with a deliciously bad anti-hero to get this feeling of cloying sweetness outta my head!
I think, for me, part of the problem is that I am not a huge fan stories where the couple already has a romantic history/divorce, that sort of thing. I have always felt that in that situation, it feels like being dropped into the middle of the story. Not sure that makes sense, but it is harder for me to get involved in the couple when so much of their story isn’t shown in the pages of the book. I do have high hopes for Gabriel’s brother’s books, though – they were awesome in Rock Hard. What did all of you think about Rock Wedding? Any fans, or were you like Monika and just found it too much?