ARC Review: Hard Rhythm (Secrets of a Rock Star #3) by Cecilia Tan


Title: Hard Rhythm
Author: Cecelia Tan
Publisher/Year: Grand Central Publishing 1/31/17
Length:   336 Pages
Series:  Secrets of a Rock Star #3


Are they ready to go all the way?

Maddie Rofel has seen it all. Even the kinkiest games she witnesses working as a hostess in L.A.’s most exclusive private sex club fail to shock her, much less turn her on. Until the night she has a very personal encounter with drummer Chino Garcia, and the two discover an intimate connection neither can deny. Suddenly the jaded hostess is softening under Chino’s touch, and submitting in ways she never expected . . .

All his life, Chino has been running from something. Normally he beats back his demons by losing himself in his music. Now he’s losing himself in Maddie. And, while it drives Chino wild when Maddie bares her body to him, what he really wants is for Maddie to bare her soul. For that, Chino will have to push Maddie past her furthest limits-and share his own dark secrets.

My Thoughts

First off i should thank the folks at NetGalley for providing me with access to the ARC since i’m always a huge fan of getting my hands on a book a little early and this series is definitely one that i’ve found myself really intrigued by.  I may not have had perfect reviews all the time, but the story is solid and you all should realize by now that i’m a fan of Ms Tan.

So in this third installment, we get to focus on Maddie, one of the hostesses at TGC.  We don’t know much about her going into this story and while we learn more, there are still a bunch of things that are shrouded in mystery.  We do know that she’s been in the lifestyle for a while and was chosen by the girls grandfather years ago to work at the club.  She’s bounced from job to job, all in the less than savory genre along with bouncing from relationship to relationship since the men she’s chosen haven’t been right for her.

Enter in Chino – one of the members of The Rough, the band that we know Axel and Mal from.  We don’t know hardly anything about him either except that he seems to keep to himself a lot.  He’s a little older than the other guys and that means of course tons more life experience.

Where this story takes us in on a journey of letting go, letting someone in, and coming to terms with your past.  We learn through scenes that Maddie has her limitations in the BDSM lifestyle and that she’s never considered herself to have been in a true D/s relationship which causes her to wonder if she truly can.  Chino on the other hand is into a lot of stuff and that comes through more and more as we see trust develop.  Maddie is able to open up more to Chino than ever and that gives us a chance to see what’s inside her mind and heart.

Then there’s the complexity known as Chino’s past.  We quickly learn that he left home when he was sixteen because it wasn’t a good place for him, and he left behind his mother, sister brother and awful stepfather.  They were raised so religiously that everything that Chino is now is something that they consider to be the work of the devil and a sin.  That’s where the story takes us though, on a journey of trying to get his family back together and into a safe place.

The nice thing about this installment is that it’s really playful while pulling at your heartstrings.  Each one of the bandmates stories gives us something else and it’s good timing to get this type of plot line.  I think that there’s something sweet about two people who want to save each other but who want to save themselves as well.

We get a few interesting surprises with folks popping up when no one expected and then we get the added bonus of angst and anxiety when someone threatens to out the club without the girls being able to control it.  It’s a big question now of when the truth of the club will come out and what it will mean, but everyone’s always known it would happen so we’ll see who gets to make the announcement.

Anyhow – a great third book to the series and i can’t wait to read more.  Enjoy!

Review: Wild Licks (Secrets of a Rock Star #2) by Cecilia Tan


Title: Wild Licks
Author: Cecilia Tan
Publisher/Year: Grand Central Publishing 8/2/16
Length:   352 Pages
Series:  Secrets of a Rock Star #2


Pleasure knows no bounds . . .

Gwen Hamilton is always looking for a thrill. Not even running a secret BDSM club can fulfill her true desires. It’s only when she’s backstage at a rock concert and attracts the eye—and experienced hands—of guitarist Mal Kennealy that she finds that perfect combination of danger and excitement she’s been craving. Calling herself “Excrucia,” she revels in his uncompromising dominance each night. And yet by day, he knows her only as Gwen, his new escort for public appearances.

Excrucia blows Mal’s mind with her enthusiastic submission to his harshest commands. Even though he has a reputation for never seeing the same woman twice, he can’t help being tempted by the woman willing to fulfill his every fantasy. And when Mal discovers that Gwen—the sweet arm candy designed to soften his surly public image—is really Excrucia, he never wants to let her go. Finally he can indulge his absolute power. But dancing too recklessly on the razor’s edge could cut deeper than he bargained for . . .

My Thoughts

So we met Ricki and Axel and went through their story in the first book of the series and we knew that Ricki’s sister Gwen was the one that was really more involved in the BDSM lifestyle so it’s nice that we get to see her get her own story next.

Gwen as you will remember is just a few years younger than Ricki and she’s trying to make her way in Hollywood where she really wants to break into acting.  As all struggling actors in the world, she’s having a tough time getting her big break, and it’s at the suggestion of Axel’s management that she gets more visibility as being on the arm of Mal, one of the members of his band.  Being seen with Mal will get her face out there which is good for Gwen, and will also keep the Rough (their band) relevant since Axel is out in public with Ricki a lot and Mal will now have someone attractive on his arm.

The story from there though takes a very dark and naughty turn.  We know that Gwen’s not really that new to the BDSM world, but she’s never been in a full D/s relationship because the one that she was in years ago wasn’t really anything more than a guy using her for his pleasure.  So the irony of things here is that Mal is very heavily into the lifestyle and when they come together, it’s explosive.

Mal on the other hand has some very dark and twisted tastes even for some of those who are really into kinky things.  He’s a pain fiend and he also exerts such control and dominance over his partner that you have to be fully obedient and open to be with him.  When Gwen gets selected to be an after concert groupie for Mal to use as he wants, we see that things get heated fast.  There’s a chemistry between them that makes Mal question his rules from the very beginning since he’s so intrigued by her.

Where we go from there is kind of frustrating, yet really exciting nonetheless.  We see that Gwen really feels something for Mal and wants to have a reality relationship with him, yet Mal isn’t willing to go down that path since he’s been burned in the past by many women.  The thing is though that there’s something about Gwen that makes him take pause and wonder if it’s possible to be happy and when he’s stressed and horrible to be around (especially how his band feels while they are recording their new album), Gwen is the only one who’s able to give him piece and make him come back down to earth.

The lesson that we learn in this book though is that sometimes it’s just not enough – and that sometimes no matter how hard you want something, you won’t get to see it come to fruition.  That seems to be the case here with these 2 since there’s just too much against them, and even with the help of Axel and Ricki, it’s just not something that seems like it’s likely to happen.

All in all though, a great second installment to the series.  We’re starting to get some of the exciting bits that Ms Tan is known for, so taking this a step up from where i was with the first book.  There are still a lot of aspects of the BDSM relationship that i’m a bit off on since i feel like her style is a bit off from what i’ve read by other authors but that could just be style and nuance.  In any event, i have to wait a bit for the next book since it’s not out yet but at least then we’ll get to see how Madison and Chino get along since we saw them meet in this book and i think there’s something to be said for their interesting chemistry.  Have a great day!

Review: Taking the Lead (Secrets of a Rock Star #1) by Cecilia Tan


Title: Taking the Lead
Author: Cecilia Tan
Publisher/Year: Grand Central Publishing 1/26/16
Length:   277 Pages
Series:  Secrets of a Rock Star #1


When the rich and famous come out to play, nothing is off-limits . . .

Everyone knows Ricki Hamilton as the icy heiress living in a billion-dollar mansion, high up in the Hollywood Hills. But few realize that behind the gilded gates, Ricki is the mistress of LA’s most exclusive private club. A place where no fantasy is forbidden and no one goes unsatisfied-except for Ricki. If she had her way, she’d leave the business behind . . . until she meets the one man with the power to change her mind.

The hottest rock star in the world, Axel Hawke, has the requisite sexy look and bad-boy reputation. Yet even his biggest fans have no clue just how decadently dangerous he can be. From the moment he meets Ricki, he knows there is no other woman who will satisfy him. He can feel the heat hiding beneath her cool demeanor and he’s determined to stoke her flame.

Together Ricki and Axel indulge their every desire. The deeper they go, the more she craves. Submitting to Axel opens her eyes, and for the first time Ricki knows exactly what she wants. All she has to do is take it . . .

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Ms Tan and i think that i had higher hopes for this first introduction to a new series than what it delivered.  The story is sweet and definitely in the right direction, but the depth and complexity that we have seen in Sweet Surrender and like just wasn’t here.

What we have here is a story of Ricki – a 24 yr old who has come into authority and power after the passing of her grandfather, and being young and a woman means that she’s got so much to prove for herself even though she’s incredibly smart and capable.  the other bit is that in her grandfather’s will, there are stipulations on things that she and her sister need to do in order to gain control – so that’s another problem to deal with.  On top of the fact that their family has a few secrets, the cause of the death of her mother, and the secret exclusive BDSM club in their basement.

enter in our leading man though, appropriately rocker like star named Axel.  He’s up for ‘New Artist of the Year’ at the Grammy’s and that’s where he and Ricki cross paths.  A stunt that he decides to change mid stride brings these two together and shows that there’s insane chemistry and a hint of BDSM, but where they will take it is an big question since Ricki isn’t into BDSM at all and wants nothing to do with it.

The course of the story is one of will they / won’t they ,since we know that Ricki is so afraid of anyone having anything bad to say about her in the press, and how she just wants to be able to prove her self professionally.  Axel is in the peak of his career and all he wants is Ricki.  So the question is whether their friends will be able to bring them together, or if fear will tear them apart.

In true Cecilia Tan fashion, there are some pretty racy scenes between them.  I think that they are more ‘erotica’ than BDSM although it seems like the intention was to skew BDSM given the theme of the book.  While i’m not an expert by any means, from all that i’ve read in the genre, i think that this was the biggest miss – since there’s so much more that could have been done to build up the intro to the lifestyle and the nature of the club and what goes on in there.

There are a few characters that make you question what’s going to happen.  Schmitt, one of their grandfather’s best friends has his own agenda and is trying to undermine the girls at every turn.  Paul (Ricki’s assistant) personally gives me pause since i feel like there’s something else there but that could be my paranoia, and then there’s Sakura and Gwen (the friend and the sister) who all definitely need their own installments, and i think that we’ll likely get them in the coming books.  That or we’ll get to see a lot more of Axel’s band.  Who…hopefully will give us more of the BDSM that i was expecting since one of his friends has been in the lifestyle longer.

Anyhow – decent read – and it won’t keep me from continuing on with the series.  Have a great day all!