As most of my regular readers know, I am a fan of Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling stories. I have not only read every one of those books; I’ve written fairly positive reviews for all of the full length novels in the series, as well a for a few of the short stories set in the same universe.
I have also read, enjoyed greatly, and reviewed, the first three installments of the Rock Kiss series.
There was no way on earth I wasn’t going to get the next book.
And so, a while back–well before it was released–I asked for, and received, an ARC of this story.
Unfortunately, the reading slump from Hell got in the way; later on, life got in the way, and so on, and so forth. To make an already long story a wee bit less so, here’s a very belated review, filed under “better late than never (maybe).”
Two caveats: I seem to have read a different book than the one I’ve seen reviewed (yes, that’s a hint–don’t read on if you are easily offended), and one of the protagonists is a survivor of child abuse. Read on at your own risk.
Rock Redemption, by Nalini Singh
Kit’s and Noah’s story has been blatantly set up pretty much from the beginning of the series–there’s a very telling scene in Rock Addiction that can be likened to a neon sign flashing: “look! future book protagonists right here!”
Perhaps that’s why, even though I always intended to read their book, I wasn’t as fired up about it as other fans of Ms Singh.
And perhaps that’s why it’s so easy for me to find flaws in the story, the characters, and the writing.
See, this is one of those books where pretty much every trope–and the proverbial kitchen sink–make an appearance. I know I’ve read, and loved, books with an overabundance of trope, but this was not one of them. Not by a long chalk.
Here, have a blurb from Ms Singh’s website:
Kit Devigny could have loved rock guitarist Noah St. John. Their friendship burned with the promise of intense passion and searing tenderness…until the night Noah deliberately shattered her heart.
Noah knows he destroyed something precious the night he chose to betray Kit, but he’d rather she hate him than learn his darkest secret. All he has left is his music. It’s his saving grace, but it doesn’t silence the voices that keep him up at night. Chasing oblivion through endless one-night-stands, he earns a few hours’ sleep and his bad boy reputation.
When a media error sees Noah and Kit dubbed the new “it” couple, Kit discovers her chance at the role of a lifetime hinges on riding the media wave. Wanting—needing—to give Kit this, even if he can’t give her everything, Noah agrees to play the adoring boyfriend. Only the illusion is suddenly too real, too painful, too beautiful…and it may be too late for the redemption of Noah St. John.
Quick and dirty summary: Kit has been friends with all members of Schoolboys Choir, but finally her friendship with Noah is getting more intense and personal. Then he sets her up to find him fucking a groupie (and no, that’s not an euphemism–that’s literally what happens on the page), for her own good, dontcha know. A couple of years later, Kit is still dodging a stalker, and Noah is still fucking anything that moves. Then, because reasons, they have to fake a romantic relationship–which, natch, leads to the real thing.
Throw in “neglected little rich girl” and “twice victimized survivor of sexual abuse as a child,” with a side of “secondary character set up for future book,” and you have this novel.
But see, pretty much anything can be reduced to a few sentences of snark, if one is so inclined. Generally speaking, I’m not so inclined. This is, as a matter of fact, an aberration, and one that gives me no pleasure whatsover.
I mean, I really, really liked the previous book, on so many levels!
My problem with this one is, that I found the writing so freaking overwrought, that I could never suspend my disbelief enough to sympathize with the characters. From the first page, and on throughout the book, Kit “hugs” things to her heart, her stomach dips, her blood pounds–keep in mind, she and Noah haven’t even kissed at this point, which makes her sound as if she had the maturity of your average thirteen year old.
We are told, ad nauseam and in minute detail, what these two characters feel, to the point that there’s nothing left to read between the lines, let alone to feel.
As an example, here’s an early quote (from the prologue):
“A high-heeled shoe lay on the carpet by the room service tray. The shoe glittered under the lights, sparkly gold with a four-inch stiletto heel.
At that instant, it felt as if that heel were embedded in Kit’s chest, the pain of it burning and burning. She knew she should turn around and leave, but she couldn’t. She had to know, had to be sure. Noah meant too much for her to make a mistake or have doubts.
Heart squeezing and lungs barely drawing in enough air to keep her from passing out, she made herself walk across the floor to the open bedroom door.”
The passages from Noah’s point of view are no less, well, overwrought.
To add insult to injury, the set up for the last book, Abe’s and Sarah’s story, is shoehorned in, taking up way too much space on the page that could have been used to actually develop the main characters.
Instead, there are so many things that are glossed over, it’s not even funny.
We have a manwhore who drinks himself stupid all the damn time–yet we are supposed to believe he has never caught an STD, and has never forgotten to wear a condom, while fucking one, two, or three groupies a night, for years on end.
And oh, by the way, his liver is also fine and dandy, thank you for asking.
And, despite being drunk often–which equals impaired judgement–Noah has never used drugs. Because Kit despises drug addicts, you see. And, of course, alcoholics are known for their strength of will and clarity of purpose.
Seriously? No, really–are we honestly expected to ignore all reality here?
I hate to write this, but this story could have used a ruthless content editor–there is both too much, as you can see from the quote, and too little, when it comes to actual characterization.
It may be that reading this story while in the throes of the worst reading slump ever makes me a far less forgiving reader than I might have been otherwise, but in all honesty, I don’t think so.
This is the one Nalini Singh book that I’ve received an ARC for, that I’m not buying a copy for my library.
Even worse, I don’t think I’ll be able to read the final book in the series after the ham-handed set up from this one.
Rock Redemption gets a 5.50 out of 10.