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Friday, April 8, 2011

'Rock Hard' Sinners on Tour #2 by Olivia CUNNING

From the BLURB:

An ultimatum can break your heart....

Every night lead singer, Sed Lionheart whips thousands of women into a frenzy with his voice alone. But the stage is the only place Sed feels any passion since he lost Jessica...

If you’re not willing to break all the rules...

It shattered her heart, but law student Jessica broke off her engagement to Sed, determined to be successful on her own terms. But no other man can ever hold a candle to Sed...

Then a chance meeting and tortuously close quarters lead to uncontrollable flares of passion and rediscovery of their unique penchant for public encounters. Now, in addition to the risk of mutual heartbreak every time they get together, they’re in danger of truly scandalous public exposure...

Sedric Lionheart is lead singer of the fabulous rock band, ‘The Sinners’. He is the growling heart and soul of the band, but he has also been the thorn in the side of his band mates for the past two years . . . because two years ago Sed got his heart eviscerated by the only woman he has ever loved.

Jessica Chase had dreams before she met Sed, and shortly after they became engaged it looked as though one of those dreams was going to come true. Jessica was accepted into law school – and well on the path to becoming a renowned lawyer. But ‘The Sinners’ didn’t have the same success two years ago as they do now, and Sed forbade Jessica from taking the scholarship. Money was tight and Sed couldn’t stomach the thought of his fiancée leaving him for dusty school books and stuffy lecturers. So Jessica called off the engagement. She did the unthinkable and walked out on Sedric Lionheart . . .

Two years later and Sed is an infamous rocker with the reputation to match. ‘The Sinners’ have become his sole focus in life, and the band’s groupies have helped him to forget Jessica. But along the way he has also stolen women from his band-mates, Brian Sinclair in particular has had to bear the brunt of Sed’s insatiable sexual appetite. But on the eve of Brian’s wedding to the one woman Sed didn’t manage to snatch, the Sinners go on the bachelor party from hell. Because in a sad little Las Vegas strip club Sed comes face-to-face with the woman who crushed his soul, as she swings around a stripper pole. It only takes one scantily-clad twirl to ignite Sed’s territorial instincts, followed by a bouncer-brawl as he drags his woman from the stage.

Sedric Lionheart has stormed back into Jessica’s life, and he’s just as addictive as she remembered. Being around Sed triggers all of her lusty wants, and she can’t deny that the attraction is still fierce between them. Sed has turned up like a bad penny – right when Jessica’s law scholarship is in jeopardy and she desperately needs tuition money. And worse than that, being with Sed again has reignited her extreme need for public displays of affection . . . but what happens when one X-rated PDA winds up on the internet? Is Sed just a bad addiction that Jessica needs to flush out of her system, or is he a changed man desperate to win back her heart?

‘Rock Hard’ is the second book in Olivia Cunning’s contemporary erotica series, ‘Sinners on Tour’.

I went into ‘Rock Hard’ with high expectations. I love, love, loved ‘Backstage Pass’ and the sweetly erotic story of lead guitarist Brian Sinclair and sexy professor Myrna Evans. I especially loved the series premise of ‘The Sinners’. I could not believe that Olivia Cunning had tapped into such an obvious erotic setting and characters – rock stars on tour! Brilliant! I loved getting to know all the Sinners, their quirks and cravings.

I have to admit, I didn’t like Sed in ‘Backstage Pass’, and for good reason. Sedric had stolen every single one of Brian’s girlfriends, until Myrna. There was a cryptic reason for Sed’s insatiable sexual cravings, and it all centred on the one that got away, Jessica Chase. I didn’t like Sed when he was introduced in the first book, but I was curious to find out about his battered heart . . . Sadly, I found ‘Rock Hard’ to be a lukewarm follow-up to ‘Backstage Pass’.

My biggest problem with ‘Rock Hard’ was the characters of Sed and Jessica. I did not like them, at all.

I think Cunning was on the back-foot from the get-go by giving Jessica and Sed a romantic past. The book opens two years earlier, when Jessica storms out on Sed and their engagement because he literally forbids her from going to law school. Straight away I thought Sed was a misogynistic ape. And, to some extent, I immediately considered Jessica an idiot for ever going out with him. After that little snatch of a scene I found myself reluctant to explore Sed and Jessica’s relationship further . . .

The story then skips ahead to two years later, when Jessica is failing a law class. Once again, I came up against a barrier to my liking the character. Jessica isn’t just failing because she’s burned out or because she handed in a sub-par paper. She’s failing because her mean, female lecturer has it in for Jessica . . . in particular; this lecturer seems to think Jessica attracts too much male attention and must therefore be a dimwit bimbo. Thus begins a long and tragic exposé about how Jessica is stunningly beautiful, and completely unaware of her gorgeousness. The poor dear is always getting asked out on dates, and judged on the size of her bra rather than the content of her character. *Sigh*. She’s a bit of a Mary-Sue, and therefore a lot hard to stomach.

Then there’s Sedric Lionheart. At the beginning of the book I had him down as a womanizing Neanderthal, but by the end of the novel I thought he was a little too pussy-whipped. It might sound crazy, but Sed’s promiscuity was one of the more interesting things about him. I was curious to delve into his psyche and learn why he went through groupies like they were going out of fashion. But the second he sees Jessica twirling on stage at a strip club, he clicks into territorial mode and decides he still loves Jessica, and needs to have her back in his life. Sed’s voracious sexual appetite was the cause of Brian’s distress in ‘Backstage Pass’, and he was set-up as the classic rocker man-whore in that book . . . but it doesn’t take long before he’s a committed and doting boyfriend to Jessica in ‘Rock Hard’.

Now, admittedly, this wouldn’t be much of a romance if Sed was banging groupies all while trying to win Jessica back. But I thought it would be interesting to understand his need to seek sexual comfort and gratification from his female fans. And I thought that Jessica would be a little more concerned with his two years worth of promiscuity while they were broken up. . . as it is, Jessica seems satisfied to learn that Sed never kissed any of the women he slept with (seriously? Not even a talk about “have you been checked for STDs in between having groupie orgies?”).

I really thought that Sed and Jessica’s reunion was a little too easy. There wasn’t enough tension, for my liking. There were no real obstacles to Sed and Jessica getting together . . . except maybe their respective egos. It only gets worse when a grainy YouTube video of Sed and Jessica getting down n’ dirty makes its way around the internet;
“I wonder if my law professors already know about my amateur porn debut.”
“You’re not supposed to be thinking about that.” He stuffed the final quarter of his hamburger into his mouth. He could be such a pig. She wasn’t sure why it turned her on.
“This is a big deal in my life, Sed. What am I supposed to be thinking about?”
He peeled his shirt off over his head and tossed it aside. “Me.”
I know Sed is a rock star, and he has to have a certain level of egotism to get up on a stage in front of thousands of adoring fans. But seriously, it’s not an attractive quality in a man. And Jessica’s just as unlikeable – a veritable Yoko Ono.

I may have warmed a little to Jessica if she was capable of articulating her feelings and voicing her concerns about her relationship with Sed – but she’s just as emotionally repressed as he is. Two closed-off characters bouncing off each other does not make for fascinating reading. . . There just needed to be more depth, to both characters. As it is, Jessica and Sed come across as two childish adults who keep clashing and fucking each other. They needed to be grown-ups and use their words to express themselves.

Even the sex scenes were frustrating in ‘Rock Hard’. There were too many, for starters, to the point that Sed and Jessica seemed to replace actual conversations with mad grunting and fornicating. And the plentiful sex scenes were also too technical . . . sometimes I found myself having to re-read paragraphs just to know where whose arm went where while they were being balanced against the wall (but then how did his hand get there to do that?!). It’s not a good sex scene when the logistics leave your head spinning.

Quite a big focus of ‘Rock Hard’ is on the crazed fans that follow the Sinners around. It was touched on in ‘Backstage Pass’ when Myrna started collecting scientific data on what drives women to fandom. . . but in ‘Rock Hard’ Jessica clashes with quite a few of Sed’s fans. It’s quite an interesting exploration in the book, and it always makes for funny and/or frightening scenes when certain female fans get a little too rambunctious with the Sinners and their female companions. I think Cunning is setting up a storyline with the Sinners fanatical fans, so I am interested to ‘watch this space’ and see where that plot goes. . .

I really didn’t like Sed and Jessica. But ‘Rock Hard’ reiterates what’s so great about Olivia Cunning’s overall series focus – the band! I loved reading about the other band members. Cunning has great pace in ‘Rock Hard’, and always when I was sick to death of Sed and Jessica’s yo-yoing emotions, a scene would focus on the other band members. We’re learning more about Jace’s place on the bottom of the band totem-pole (and his need to exert himself in other aspects of his life). Trey has a very harrowing storyline in ‘Rock Hard’, and I am interested to see how it develops in future books. And Eric, though the funniest band member, has a vicious streak that I look forward to picking apart in future books. And, of course, first favourite Brian and his lovely Myrna make a reappearance and assure fans that they are still just as hot for each other in ‘Rock Hard’ as they were in ‘Backstage Pass’.

This much-anticipated book left me a little cold. Sedric was promiscuous one second and pussy-whipped the next. Jessica was a ‘woe-is-me’ stunner who was as emotionally stunted as her rocker boyfriend. Luckily, the other band members picked up the slack for Sed’s disappointing instalment. I can’t wait to read Jace and Eric’s books, but Trey has fast become my favourite Sinner. I didn’t love ‘Rock Hard’, but I still love Olivia Cunnings ‘Sinners on Tour’ series, and I want more, more, more!



  1. I do like the series so far and since Sed is my least favorite band member I am looking forward to what's next.

  2. Excellent review. You said it so much better than I did. I had a hard time with both Sed and Jessica but love the entire cast of characters as a whole and I really can't wait for more from this series.

    Interesting what you say about the author setting up a storyline involving the fans. I hadn't thought of that. Will be keeping an eye out to see what happens there.

  3. Thanks for the review Dani!

    I finally got book 1, as it was like 1$ at amazon... but Im sorry you didnt like this as much =(


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