“Rock Courtship,” by Nalini Singh

11 Feb

Rock Courtship“Rock Courtship” by Nalini Singh

This novella is the second title in Nalini Singh’s contemporary series, Rock Kiss. Most what happens during Rock Courtship happen simultaneously with events described in Rock Addiction, though the two stories stand on their own for the most part.¹

The story follows the relationship between Thea Arsana, Schoolboy Choir’s publicist, and David Rivera, the band’s drummer. Which wouldn’t be that big a deal, except that Thea never gets involved with clients, and after a traumatic breakup with a cheating asshat of a fiancé, she’s not dating, period.

Not that that would stop a determined man, and David is nothing if not determined.

Please note: I received an ARC of the story. Also, it contains explicit sex and adult language. If you have a problem with either, this series is most definitely not for you.

Here is the blurb, from the author’s website:

What happens when the Gentleman of Rock decides to play dirty?

A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.

Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients—or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.

What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man…and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.

I am liking, very much, how Ms Singh is structuring these stories. We get three parts–an introduction of sorts; then the falling in love, and finally an event that tests the solidity of those bonds.

If you are new to the series, allow me to introduce the main characters.

David is the drummer for a highly successful rock band. The band has been together since the four members graduated from a private high school about a decade earlier. David comes from a very much working class family, and managed to snag a scholarship to that selfsame preppy school through brains and hard work.

Early on in their professional career, the band hired Thea and her partner as publicists.

Thea is the illegitimate daughter of Molly’s father and a Balinese teenager. Her mother was deported from Australia while pregnant. Fortunately for both mother and baby, Lily marries a lovely, loving man who becomes a true father to Thea.

During the introduction to “Rock Courtship,” David attempts to move from the ‘client’ category to the ‘friend’ category in Thea’s life. In time, or so he hopes, friendship will become much more. After all, he’s been quietly and pretty deeply in love with Thea since…well, forever.

Unfortunately for him, Thea’s “no clients, ever” policy is quite firm. Even if the ex hadn’t been a complete d-bag, moving in the show and music business has shown her that monogamy and musicians are barely acquainted. Rockers at the top of the charts? The worst possible bet, as far as relationships go.

And so, in the “friendly client” category David remains, and despairs over it, for months.

Enter Molly, Thea’s half sister and the main character in Rock Addiction. Molly likes David from the moment she meets him. Mostly, because she feels that he is a decent guy, and she senses his devotion towards Thea. Molly loves her sister, and thinks that after the disaster Thea’s ex was, a decent guy who has been carrying a torch for a while is just what the doctor ordered.

Here is where another conceit, one based on characterization, comes to play: memos.

After a little contretemps with a bunch of bigots in a blue collar bar in Sydney that puts David in Thea’s ‘pain in the ass client’ list, Molly advises him to write Thea a memo, enumerating and spelling out clearly, bullet point by bullet point, why giving a relationship between a chance is a good, smart thing to do. Versus, you know, a disaster in the making.

“That is either the worst of the best advice ever.” And the fact he was considering it would’ve told him exactly how far gone he was if he hand’t already been fully aware of his feelings for Thea.

“Trust me.” Molly sipped her coffee before adding, “Thea likes brains and she likes determination.”

David’s fingers clenched on his fork. He knew he had a brain–it was why he’d won that scholarship at thirteen. As for the determination, yeah, he had that too.

Turns out, David has a talent for writing pretty persuasive memos–whoddathought?

Thus starts a lovely–and goodness me, hot–back and forth between the two that lasts a few weeks. In due course, the do become a couple, though they both feel a tad tentative with each other.

While Thea is over her ex, his actions undermined her confidence in herself as a woman. She is very proud of her professional strengths and devoted to her career, but her experience with relationships points to men coming to resent women like her, to the point of hatred. Now, she is extremely wary of making herself fully vulnerable again, which is a normal enough reaction. The thing is, Thea knows David well enough to intuit that he’s not one for half measures.

There is also the fact that, because of both their careers, long separations would be more the norm than the exception–a high end publicist has many clients, and can’t drop everything every time the boyfriend’s band goes on tour. And a famous and hot musician at the height of his popularity is liable to be propositioned with annoying regularity, whether at home or abroad.

When the piano falls on their heads, it’s not as terrible as it could have been, because Thea gets over herself quickly enough, and fully enough, to confront David’s anger. There is no protracted angst, rending of vestments and the like. A quick, if intense fight, and two adults communicating honestly with each other.

I’m aware that some readers found the quick resolution to the conflict kind of a letdown, but I liked it a lot. Like in Rock Addiction, here we have adults who fight, talk and get past whatever it was. That is, I think, what makes relationships work, and it’s nice to see both sides equally invested and at similar levels of maturity.

I also like the fact that both of them have close and healthy family ties. Yes, the loner who has become a decent human being on his or her own can be a great protagonist, but once in a while it’s nice to see a romance between people who aren’t too terribly damaged by their childhoods. Adulthood can do plenty damage all on its own.

The main conflict between these two is one of trust. This is basically a sweet, intimate story about two very decent people who have some trust issues. Well, sweet and hot, because when these two finally get together, fireworks do go off.

I have only a couple of issues with this story. One, is that later on some space is devoted to rehashing Molly’s parentage from Thea’s point of view. I feel that for readers who have not read Rock Addiction, this comes out of left field. It is not essential to Thea’s and David’s story, and it doesn’t truly inform who Thea is as an adult and as equal partner in an adult relationship.

The second is fairly spoilerish, as this happens about the three quarter mark in the story, so it’s discussed below, after the grade and the foot note, and some buffer space for good measure.

“Rock Courtship” is a good, solid installment in the Rock Kiss series, with very likable leads. Because of the those two quibbles, though, it gets 8.25 out of 10

 ~ * ~

¹ There is one pivotal moment in David’s and Thea’s relationship that’s mentioned very obliquely in Rock Addiction, that drove more than a few attentive readers to distraction–because it’s never explained.

~ * ~

If you, like me, are allergic to spoilers, avert your eyes now.

 

No, really, now is a good time.

 

You sure you want to read this?

 

Don’t say later that I didn’t warn you.

 

Okay, for those of you still here.

What happens is that there is an accusation that David got a girl pregnant. Obviously someone else is the father. What bothered me is that instead of simply painting a kid scared out of her mind looking for the easiest way out–famous musician seduces innocent girl, instead of not-so-innocent girl has been getting in on with boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks–she’s made out to be a cold hearted gold digger out to milk the rich musician for all she can get. Honestly, I felt this was thoroughly unnecessary, and it’s what lowered my grade.

 

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4 Responses to ““Rock Courtship,” by Nalini Singh”

  1. Rowena 11/02/2015 at 11:46 AM #

    LOVED THIS ONE! David’s memos??? OMG. This was a really cute story and I adored both David and Thea together. Like you, I really like that Nalini Singh makes her characters in this series act like adults when conflict arises. There’s no prolonged separation while the two pout like children. They handle their business and are better people for it. Great review, as always AL!

  2. bamaclm 11/02/2015 at 8:40 PM #

    I’m getting spoiled reading mature couples in my romances (yay!) and this was another good one. I liked it much better than the first one, Rock Addiction (they jumped into bed much too fast for me in that one).

    The situation in your spoiler didn’t bother me at all. I’ve seen too many news stories of women AND men scheming to benefit from a celebrity’s fame and these days age doesn’t seem to matter. Of course, I am an old fart and probably way too cynical.

    I’m really, really looking forward to the next book about Charlie-mouse and T-rex. Ms. Singh has two chapters up on her blog and my appetite is duly whetted!

    You’re reviewing many books I’ve read and really liked, so thank you. You do a great job.

    • azteclady 11/02/2015 at 9:15 PM #

      Oh, thank you!

      And yes, I have seen the same thing–people do tend to be assholes whenever substantial amounts of money are involved.

      However, I would have preferred the other scenario myself.

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