What She Said – Rock Kiss Review

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…

rock weddingWhat 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?

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16 thoughts on “What She Said – Rock Kiss Review

  1. Monika says:

    I hadn’t realized my review was so full of profanity until I tried to upload it to Amazon today and it got rejected like 5 times and I couldn’t figure out why until finally I had an epiphany. I used some creative paraphrasing to get it past their bot, which then led to a temporary disappearance of all of my reviews…

    • kaleigha says:

      That’s weird…I didn’t know they actually censored the reviews like that. Or that it would cause all of the reviews to be pulled.

  2. Maria says:

    Sadly, I’m finding myself kind of in the same place. I loooove all things Nalini, but Allegiance wasn’t her best in my opinion and I’m not very convinced with this one’s story line. It’s the first time I hesitate to start one of her books, because she may not be able to “come back” from two meh books in a row. Guess I’ll pass on this one and I’ll go directly to the next guild hunter.

    • Monika says:

      I actually have some hope for the Psy/Changeling compilation that’s coming out in August (I think). Usually short stories are too short for me ;-), but at least two or three of them sound kind intriguing, like the one with the female dominant (there hasn’t been a successful pairing like that yet) and the one about Stefan (I am so curious what special ability he has).
      I can only say *spoiler ahead* that I am ever so grateful that Nalini said in her latest Google hangout that Elena is much too young in angelic terms to have children (I hope you don’t consider me an unfeeling monster if I confess I’ve had with all the ah-ing and oh-ing about the oh-so-sweet babies. Time to have some kick-ass action again!

      • kaleigha says:

        I like a collection of novellas, like the Psy/Changeling and Guild Hunter ones, it for some reason makes the stories seem longer to me. Doesn’t make any sense, but I guess it is maybe because all the stories are set in the same world.

    • kaleigha says:

      I am really weird…I find books about celebrities too “unreal”, even though I find vampires, werewolves and angels completely normal. I never would’ve picked up any of the Rock Kiss books if they didn’t have Nalini’s name on it.

    • Abra says:

      I never thought I’d do it, but I skipped the last Guild Hunter book. I love Nalini Singh, but I have gotten sick of virgins with much older and promiscuous men. The Guild Hunter series is one of my favorites and I’ve read all the books multiple times, but the repetition of this dynamic is getting old to me. The new book sounds really promising and I’m looking forward to it.

      • Monika says:

        The last Guild Hunter book actually was one of my favorites, at least as far as Raphael’s Seven are concerned. Also, Naasir is delectably different and they didn’t have the typical dynamic going either (IMHO)…

        • kaleigha says:

          I loved me some Naasir…he was so different, almost childlike in some ways that it shouldn’t have worked, but it really did.

  3. Lidy says:

    I confess: I love Nalini’s books, but I didn’t like the rock series. Well, I didn’t like it to the point of stalking her social media to find when the next one would be published. Molly annoyed me so much… I get it, she had a trauma, but whenever she mentioned how much she couldn’t be with Fox because people would be mean to her, I wanted to get into the book and yell, “Woman, grow up, you aren’t a teen anymore! Get some therapy! Enjoy your rock star! Screw it, what did he see in you, you annoying, whining idiot?” I liked Fox, but was actually relieved when the book ended.

    Now, T-Rex and Charlie… loved them. I need a T-Rex in my life. 😀

    I haven’t read David and Thea’s novella yet. I liked Noah and Kit’s; it was like a fresh start having a hero who didn’t use his trauma to justify why he likes his sex kinky.

    As for Sarah and Abe, my greatest problem with them was the apparent lack of characterization. They felt one-dimensional; I understand theirs was a complicated story, but if Molly’s childhood trauma found its way to be mentioned at least once in each book, then Abe and Sarah should’ve gotten the same treatment, like NS did with Dmitri and does with Illium in the GH series, or with Hawke and Sienna and Caleb (and Anthony and Nikita) in PC. I feel like I didn’t get enough time to connect with either Abe and/or Sarah, and the nauseating sweetness in the book aggravated it: the absentee best friend, the entrepreneur who conducts her business with phone calls, the ex-wife who falls in bed with her ex-husband too soon – and I also got the feeling that Abe was an asshole who was taking advantage of her, but maybe that was just me.

    Abra, maybe you should consider reading Archangel’s Enigma; while it looks like it’ll be one of those experienced male-virgin females romances, it’s way more complex than that. And Naasir is fascinating.

    • kaleigha says:

      Ah, T-Rex. I have a special place for him and Charlie, and they remain my favorites. Like you, I enjoyed Fox, but then I am a sucker for the leading men. The women? Not always so much. I surprised myself by how much I ended up liking Noah and Kit, but I can’t seem to talk myself into this one. I will have to, to continue the guide, but I am not in a rush.

      • Lidy says:

        I wish I could like the series like I do the hunters… maybe it’ll happen with T-Rex’s brothers. I have a problem with Sascha-like characters, the too nice ones that have no flaws.

        • kaleigha says:

          For me, at least the brothers won’t be famous, so it is more my speed. The whole “superstar” thing has always been a stretch for me.

    • Abra says:

      I’ll probably skip Archangel’s Enigma entirely unless I want to go back and pick up missing pieces of the overall story arc. It’s just the perfect storm of childlike male, which I find personally unappealing, and the experienced male/virgin female dynamic. That dynamic has just gotten old for me, although I know 90% of readers love it. On the other hand, I loved Allegiance of Honor and went back and reread my favorite Psy/Changling books after finishing it.

      • Lidy says:

        I see a lot of people calling Naasir childlike, but I don’t really agree with it; maybe it’s because I think children are a bit egocentric and sometimes annoying, which Naasir isn’t. However, due to his tiger half, he’s a unique way of looking at things… it’s very charming. As for his experience, I don’t see him as a manwhore (which most alpha males are); he does like sex and has no problems getting it, but that’s it. As for the plot, I think Archangel’s Heart will be more impactful, but there’s something in AE regarding Illium and Lijuan that’s going to pay off… eventually.

        • Abra says:

          I’m really looking forward to Archangel’s Heart. I started reading the Guild Hunter series first and then went to the Psy/Changling one after that. I can’t count the number of times I have reread the Guild Hunter books and novellas as my TBR list grows and grows. Such good books. Is it possible to reread a series too much? I don’t know. I just know that the last six or so books (I’m not including the rock star books because I haven’t read them) by Nalini Singh have involved virgins and I miss the books of her’s that didn’t.

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