Timing is everything in a romance novel.

Rock Hard by Nalini Singh comes out today. I am lucky enough to be one part of the blog book tour put on by The Rock Starts of Romance (TRSOR). This means I got to read the book early. Sigh…I read it the same day I got and have gone back since to renew my voyeurism of Charlotte and Gabriel’s story.

rock hard  book tour BLURB:

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.

REVIEW:

As I have aged (like a wine…hopefully not the cheap stuff), my tastes in romance-novel relationships have changed. I used to love reading the Harlequin romance novels of dubious quality and quick marriages. I enjoyed historical romances where there was a quick-by-necsessity marriage between characters of questionable compatibility. Relationships and loves developed in a week and it was happy-ever-after from that moment on. Fairy tales employ the same quick relationship development, so this is what we are exposed to as children. But now I appreciate the slow build-up of a relationship. I like seeing it start as lust, develop into love and finally a solid, real relationship. Rock Hard features just such a relationship.

Charlotte experienced an abusive relationship that culminated in an explosive, hurtful horror. Years later she is still experiencing the trauma. Charlotte refers to herself as Charlie-mouse because, like a mouse, she can freeze in place when she scents danger. And she seems to scent danger a lot. And she knows that her fear prevents her from experience life as she wants to, but how to overcome such an awful experience?

Enter Gabriel Bishop, aka The Bishop. He is a former rugby player that saves failing companies. He joins the company that Charlotte works for and moves Charlotte from her current job to his personal assistant. His forceful personality put Charlotte on the defensive and then, finally, on the offensive. The relationship develops over months. We see Gabriel pursue Charlotte subtly and then full on. Charlotte starts to be more forceful and to grab life by the nape and ride that tiger for all she’s worth.

rock hard teaser 3

I just loved seeing the development. I have read (and recently reread) novels where the man expects the woman to instantly drop her fear after an abusive relationship. It seems to be a kind of, “I’m-not-him-so-you-should-trust-me” philosophy. Never mind the experiences that have taught the woman to be cautious. Gabriel is not like that. He understands that Charlotte has been hurt in the past and that he has to take his time.

The communication between Charlotte and Gabriel is what relationship communication should be like (but often isn’t). When Charlotte reacts badly to something Gabriel has said or done–unintentionally–Gabriel immediately asks what is wrong, what did he do:

“I won’t use those words again.” It was obvious the term…had brought something bad to the surface.

Gabriel confronts the spectre of his Charlotte’s past head on, with empathy and compassion. That isn’t to say Gabriel is without his own personal demons. Charlotte confronts him just as often. They push and pull and each other, demanding the best of each other.

RECOMMENDATION:
I highly recommend Rock hard and all of the Rock Kiss series. The relationships are real, honest and funny.

To Buy Rock Hard (Book Two) Rock Kiss Series

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