Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Born Wrong - CM Stunich

Born Wrong is the fifth entry into the Hard Rock Roots series by Ms. Stunich.  And while I loved the book, I have to say that it's everything I love about Stunich's awesome rock star romances, it was also less than I expected.  Literally.  At 166 print pages, this book is at least 120 pages shorter than the other entries in this series.  I hadn't realized this when I bought it for the sale price of $2.99 and, while as a frustrated writer myself I don't begrudge paying for books, I felt a little cheated in that this book seems more like a $1.99 novella than a complete book.  But that's not the only problem I had.

The good stuff first.  Everyone is here.  Naomi Knox, Turner motherfucking Campbell, Ronnie, Lola, Milo, Hayden, Trey... Indecency and Amatory Riot are both here in all their rock star glory.  This includes Amatory's drummer, Dax, and Trey's sister Sydney; these are our protagonists, for the most part.  There's a bit less drugging in this book, and a lot less actual rock and roll, and certainly a lot less sex than I'm used to in these books, but I chalk that up to two things:
  1. The short length - there just wasn't time
  2. The telling of Dax's backstory - a totally worthwhile distraction from steamy, sweaty rocker sex
Dax is a pretty typical drummer.  As long as he's got his sticks and his beats, he's okay.  He works his shit out on his kit.  Of course, he also thinks he's in love with Naomi Knox, who is firmly entrenched in Turner Campbell's heart (and bed) and Dax knows he's got a snowball's chance in hell at being with the girl.  But, he nurses his love, nurtures it, feeds it on dreams and fantasies, and keeps it alive, as if loving Naomi is what gives him a reason to keep on keeping on.  But is that really love?

We found out in this installment that Dax has a bit of a hero complex, and that in addition to feeling the need to save people, he tends to feel responsible for every bad thing that happens.  To anyone. Ever.  Really. The guy eats guilt for breakfast.  

Sydney is a stripper, and Trey's slightly older sister.  She's known the guys in Indecency since they were all horny teenagers dreaming of making it big.  She's got an opportunity coming up that will get her off the pole and into a more legit career, when she's summoned to Trey's bedside after he's been shot.  

Dax and Sydney meet and there's an instant pull between them.  Stunich makes you feel it.  It's amazing what that woman can do with words.  Anyway, long story short, the chemistry between Sydney and Dax pulls them in new directions and they are practically helpless against it; Dax may finally understand what Naomi means when she says "I want fire, Dax... I want flame. I want to be engulfed and burned alive."  Because Dax and Sydney are flaming hot for one another and fighting it every step of the way, which just makes the attraction burn all the brighter.

We see a bit of advance in the other romances in the series; Turner and Naomi are progressing, as are Ronnie and Lola, and the stories involved in the overarching conflict are advanced a bit.

The few sex scenes are smokin', and we get a view of Dax as a man, rather than as an "emo bitch" (as Turner calls him) when he's with Sydney.  There may not be a lot of sex, but it's as incendiary as ever.  The scene towards the end, in the strip club?  Girls, really; get out your fans and dry panties, cause you're gonna need 'em.

So, why am I not as unreservedly gushy over this book as I am over pretty much everything else?  Well, it feels rushed. It almost feels like Stunich felt pressured to put out a book to placate the HRR fans until she had time to sit down and do more.  This book was totally and completely up to Stunich's usual standards, the story is a good one, and I don't want anyone to think I didn't enjoy the hell out of it for a few hours, because I did, but I also want to make it clear that you are going to get this book, read this book, enjoy this book, and then be really, really disappointed when it's over so quickly. There are some things left open that could have been resolved in this book rather than waiting for the next one, I think.  And I wish I knew why this book is almost half as long as the others in the group.  I would also like to add this:

I was reading. I was loving the story, grooving on the whole thing, falling a little in love with Dax while maintaining my love for Turner and Ronnie as well. I was digging the story of Dax and his problems before he came to Amatory Riot and just when it gets reallllllllllllllly good, and something absolutely astounding has happened, I turn the page and....

NOTHING!  The. Fucking. End.  

What?  What the hell just happened?  Why is my book over already?  I don't get it!!!!  I go back and forth a few pages, consult the table of contents, and.... nope.  Over.  The book. Is fucking. Over.

Now, I like a good cliffhanger.  Hell, I'm a soap opera fan, I FLOVE a good cliffhanger.  And I am not against an author doing something daring and shocking to help tell his or her story.  But, um... this is NOT a cliffhanger!  This is an abrupt stop.  It's a red light in the middle of a damn drag race.  It's the equivalent of throwing on the emergency brake while you're doing 125 down the highway!

It just sort of diminished things for me a bit.  What can I say, I like gratification, right?  Disappointment is not the same as gratification.  Trust me on this.

So, if you're a fan of the HRR series, buy this book.  If you've never read HRR, well, recognize that this is the second book in that series that I've reviewed, while recommending the rest, and then start reading.  Totally worth it.  Stunich is, as I've said, so different in her writing than so many others and I think that her voice should be heard because it shouts to be and deserves to be.  Open that first story and prepare yourself for that overwhelming desire to quit your day job, get a tattoo and a leather jacket, and find your very own rock star to love and have insanely hot sex with.  But when you get to this last story, prepare yourself to be just a little bit let down.  

Bottom line, I loved, loved, loved this story right up until I kind of wanted to punch it in the nuts.  But I got over it.  Mostly. And I have the consolation of knowing that Stunich plans more books in the series and that I'll get the gratification I crave.  Because I know that Stunich, just like any romance author, is going for the HEA.  Hers may not look like Danielle Steele's or Barbara Cartland's HEAs, but we're gonna get the whole thing eventually.   

I hope.  I think.  I'm pretty sure.... 

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