Rock Hard (Rock Kiss #2)
by Nalini Singh
In New York Times Bestselling author Nalini Singh’s newest contemporary romance, passion ignites between a gorgeous, sinfully sexy man who built himself up from nothing and a shy woman who has a terrible secret in her past…
Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.
And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.
Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.
If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.
Rating: 4.5 stars
The pauper-to-princess story every girl dreams of has moved into the 21st-century with a bang. The second novel in the Rock Kiss series is the story of a young woman whose tragic past has left her insecure and painfully shy, hiding her fire except when really riled by the prince—or gorgeous, devastatingly sexy, and sometimes sweet Millionaire CEO in this modern version. I am a huge fan of Nalini Singh, especially her Psy-Changeling series, and when I learned she was writing a contemporary series I just knew I had to jump on the chance to read and review those. The books so far all seem to overlap in book-time, which was interesting, but painful when reading book one because you got just enough of a glimpse of what might happen in the next two stories to make you crazy until you were able to read them. So I recommend reading all three for sure, but you are filled in during each consecutive story so if you don’t start with book one don’t worry. I don’t know where this series will take us after ready Charlie’s story, but I know I will be waiting impatiently for the next release so I can get my fix of Australian hotties!
Charlie and Gabriel’s story is actually broken into two parts with a significant time lapse in between, but the flow is done so well I didn’t mind. The story begins with Charlotte, aka Charlie or mouse, caught in a confrontation with her hot as hell new boss and leaves her quaking in her books. The fear stems from a past that very few are aware of, but all Gabriel, aka T-Rex, is aware of is that she intrigues him when she really shouldn’t and he needs to keep her close until he overcomes or understands this intense attraction. With the job throwing them constantly together Gabriel decides he doesn’t want to overcome his attraction, he wants to indulge it and have Charlie in his life, not just as a coworker, and he is determined to take as much time as he needs to reach his goals—because never doubt, he WILL get what he wants. Just as Charlie begins to allow for the possibility of a future with Gabriel, her past invariably comes back to haunt her and throws all T-Rex’s careful planning into chaos. But the strength of their bond and the newly uncovered passion in his Mouse will give Gabriel the chance to protect Charlie and show her that the love between them can conquer anything.
Having met Charlotte in the first story and knowing a bit about her already I was predisposed to like her and thankfully when she became the focus of her own story my like of her character grew into love. Charlotte has a tragic past, one that many women would have buckled under completely, but though she is damaged, she is not truly broken. Regaining and maintaining her freedom and independence has become her single goal since her trauma and she has done well, but she still hasn’t broken through those final barrier, until Gabriel begins to push her and force her to see that she needs help. It was amazing to watch her blossom (cliché alert!) as she works and loves alongside Gabriel, her inner goddess emerging right alongside her inner sarcastic bitch, which was my favorite character trait, but the true breakthrough comes when she confronts her past and kicks its ass (literally and figuratively ;) ). I was a little worried in the beginning that T-Rex would run roughshod over her or simply scare her away, but thankfully, she finds her footing and is able to handle Gabriel in every way in the end. She is definitely going down in the pantheon of favorite heroines for me and right at the top of her traits will have to be “awesomely fabulous, sarcastic, brilliant, and a T-Rex Tamer”.
Gabriel "T-Rex" Bishop is just one of those characters that every woman wishes she has venture into her life at least one, even if she can’t keep him. In the beginning, I assumed he would just be another millionaire playboy type that I really had to work hard to like, but the layers to this man seemed to be infinite and I immediately enjoyed meeting his character. When he first meets Charlotte he just can’t understand why this drab little mouse intrigues him so much, but as he gets to know her through working with her, he begins to understand just how perfect for him she really is, her fire matching his and her determination almost as strong as his in both personal and professional endeavors. His protective streak when it comes to those he loves is a mile long, and when he gets it in his mind that he wants something, he puts his entire being toward meeting that goal, which are of course two of my favorite traits in my romance heroes. His sexuality is off the charts, but he is able to temper his rougher side and show the sweetness he usually keeps buried when he is dealing with the fragile and sometimes terrifyingly vulnerable mouse that has captured his heart and soul. It was also interesting to see the way Charlotte heals his emotional traumas in return, helping him past the anger over his own past and come to terms with the changes in his family. It is obvious rather quickly, that Gabriel will have to embrace and uncover many more important layers in his heart before he can earn his mouse in his life, bed, and heart.
Rock Hard is one of those ever-after stories that will stick with you long after you put the book back on your shelf and will pull you in for rereads again and again. The love between T-Rex and his Charlie-Mouse is apparent to the reader long before either of them accept it or declare it to each other. Charlotte digs herself out of the emotional damage that have layered over her true nature due to past traumas, and seeing the true her emerge and embrace the world around her, you begin to understand that if you can find the strength within yourself, and possibly the love and the support of a good man, you really can overcome anything. Gabriel on the other hand needed a woman like Charlotte, soft but strong, to tame his inner T-rex and remind him of the simple joys in life and the way to temper his need for success. Though his determination to succeed never fades, I think he begins to understand the better reasons for that success and embrace the good parts of life that are easier to enjoy when you’re successful, but it takes Charlotte to show him that joy. The passion between them was off the charts, even when they were both denying that attraction and keeping things (mostly) professional. This story was full of tears, laughs, sensuality, and the true desire of two people to overcome their pasts together and have a future that is bright and full of love, laughter, and happiness. I cannot wait to find out what’s next in this series and I know that Nalini will not let me down!
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review. No compensation was provided.