Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Intermix
Released on September 15, 2015
I’ve anticipated Rick’s story since encountering him in Adrian’s book. This series will be one of my all- time favorite rocker romances. Jessica Topper tells a journey and not just a story for her characters. The background of the rock band world of Rick, the yoga world of Sidra, and the other characters doesn’t stay in the background, but surrounds the main characters so that the story is deeply organic. The romance isn’t the main focus for much of this book, but of equal focus to the individuals growing personally and then together. I loved that. Read this one in two sittings and was still looking for more when it was done.
The series really should be read in order. This book continues from book one and relies on the former book to introduce the world, tone, characters, and backstory.
[quote]Father. Widower. Rocker. Empty Nester. His dark brows lifted at that preposterous thought. How could that be? The contradiction in terms describing this current phase of his life brought him back to the present.
Loc 107 Rick from Softer Than Steel[/quote]
This one picks up pretty much where the novella, Deeper Than Dreams, left off. They were best friends, blood brothers, part of the same rock band, and then it was all ripped away before they’ve reunited the band and their friendship. Before it was Rick who found love and now he is the one watching Adrian have his turn.
[quote]Rick looked to his best friend for backup. Surely Adrian wasn’t going to allow him to be subjected to some sort of heart-to-heart alone with Kat?
“Sorry, mate. It doesn’t matter how metal you are. If an eight-year old hands you a pink ukulele, you sure as hell better play it.” Adrian smiled and began to strum as Abbey made hula motions with her hands to wave Rick and her mother out of the yard.
Loc 759 Rick and Adrian from Softer Than Steel[/quote]
Pressures from record companies, their managers, and his own personal life leave him barely hanging on. Something has to give and it’s Rick Rottenburg as panic attacks and sleeplessness descends. He has to find a way to de-stress and gain some peace. His son pushes him toward yoga and Rick decides to give it a try. And that’s when he encounters the woman who steadies him and shows him that he might not be done with love. If only he can convince Sidra to step away from all the responsibilities she clutches close to keep the loneliness and fear of being left by those she loves.
Sidra Sullivan is half Indian and half Irish. She lives in the old East Side neighborhood and has her yoga studio in the back of her cousin’s record store that her uncle owns. Her musically talented brother works for her friend, Liz, who is struggling since her boyfriend, Kevin, broke things off. Sidra is working hard to earn the money to purchase the building from her uncle because he keeps making noises about selling up. Liz gets her a place teaching yoga once a week upstate at a kid’s summer day camp and against her own judgment, she takes on a private student who makes her heart race. Rick’s confidence hides a layer of vulnerability and pain, but after watching her dad start drinking hard and checking out on the family when her mom died, having the love of her life cheat on her and leave her for another woman, and dealing with all the men who treat her as an object when they come to her yoga classes, she is leery of men. It could be worse. He could be a rock musician like cheating Charlie. As time goes one, the attraction grows and she is no longer sure who is the teacher and who is the student.
[quote]”Time to practice what you preach, teacher.”
“You can’t manipulate a heart to open,” she insisted. The words sounded lame, even to her ears.
Rick’s fingertips tilted her chin, and his stare became her personal drishti. Her eyes threatened tears as she locked her focus, losing herself in his gaze.
“But you can allow it to open, under the right circumstances.”
Loc. 2652 Rick and Sidra from Softer Than Steel[/quote]
Without being angsty, this was an emotional read. I referred to this as a journey and it was. The author took the time to set up Rick and Sidra’s stories separately before allowing their lives to intersect. They take turns narrating the story in alternate chapters. They meet briefly and part again a few times before sharing a lot of scene time.
Other minor stories are going on too- Adrian and Kat’s wedding, the band’s work in the recording studio and the dynamics with promoter and manager, Sidra’s family troubles and the potential sale of the family building, Sidra’s brother’s chance to head out with a local band on tour, Liz and Kevin’s on again off again relationship, and Sidra’s yoga work. The scenes involving little Abbey are always fun little gems and bring smiles. The dynamics in the band group, Sidra and her Sullivan family group, and Kat with her posse of friends are all humorous and the added a lighter, flirty tone to an otherwise more serious story.
I found it refreshing that the romance slowly built and grew organically out of all the times their lives intersected. It really made much better sense this way. In the beginning, Rick is still very much a grieving widower and Sidra is still emotionally bruised from discovering the guy she loved cheating on her and now moving on like they had nothing together. The fire and passion were not lacking once things were well under way. And yeah, a yoga instructor and a middle-aged guy who is fit and taking regular yoga sessions and lessons had no trouble enjoying a physical relationship.
I mentioned the settings and backgrounds earlier. That is another thing that just melds so well with the plot. The story takes place in NYC both posh West Side and older East Side. The city is another character in its own right. I loved the ethnic settings that show the diversity of the city. Sidra’s Indian-Irish heritages as well as Rick’s Jewish heritage added lovely flavor to the story. I didn’t even know there were actual blends of Irish-Indian music or that one could yoga to rock.
That leads me to say that just as with the past stories, this one is steeped in the music world. Nothing like getting a rocker romance with some solid scene time with the music, tours, recording studio, song writing, business, fans, and playing/singing actual music. The author had a really strong grasp of this world as well as Sidra’s Yoga world. That, too, deserves mentioning.
[quote]It was as if they had both reached their edge, and then took things deeper. Settling into what was. Not worrying about the ‘what if’ and ‘if only’. They managed to soften the steel they’d both girded themselves with, systematically, for so long, and stepped into the process of letting themselves be vulnerable. It was okay to be vulnerable sometimes. It was strangely liberating, and powerful.
Loc 2959 Sidra from Softer Than Steel[/quote]
So, yeah, this one was a rush. Cover to cover intensely engaging. Rock band fans who don’t mind getting zen with some yoga, or just general Contemporary Romance lovers should give this series a try.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
I normally don’t add explanation for my Books N Tunes choice, but this clip is a little different in that it is a sample of the Indian Bhangra fused with Irish Jig music that Sidra enjoys.
Need more Love & Steel?
Romance Roundabout #299 CR
Cliché Klatch # 186 ‘practice what you preach’
Books N Tunes #47 Delhi 2 Dublin band
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