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New Zealander Karina Bliss's debut, Mr Imperfect, won a Romantic Book of the Year award in Australia, and her most recent release, A Prior Engagement, was a Desert Island Keeper at likesbooks.com. Her 100,000 word single title romance, RISE, continues the story of Zander Freedman, who first appeared as a villain in Karina's bestselling title, What the Librarian Did - a book that made DearAuthor's Best of the Year list in 2010. Two of Karina's books have also featured in Sizzling Book Chats at SmartBitchesTrashyBooks. Find out more at www.karinabliss.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarinaBlissAuthor Twitter @BlissKarina Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for a fresh start, rock star Devin Freedman returns to his native New Zealand and enrolls in college. Now in his thirties and sober for the first time in over a decade he has no desire to return to Los Angeles and its many temptations. Convinced that a life of relative anonymity is just what he wants he's chagrined to find that conservative Rachel Robinson has no idea who he is. What's more, she does not appear particularly impressed when she does learn of his notoriety. Not that the starchy librarian is Devin's type - or is she?
This was a fun read. I loved Devin - classic `bad boy' with rugged good looks and a surplus of sex appeal. It was interesting to watch him navigate the minefield of human relationships without his fame and rock star trappings as a buffer. His interactions with his mother were funny and quite touching. The author writes clever dialogue and does a nice job incorporating the setting into the story (having never visited New Zealand I can't comment on the authenticity!).
The only real problem I had was that a secondary plot involving a young student searching for his birth mother seemed to hijack the storyline in some places. I'm not a big fan of teen-age angst and would have rather seen more relationship development between Devin and Rachel.
Fans of the `Bad Boy Falls For Nice Girl' storyline (and what's not to love?) will probably enjoy this. If you're in need of a nice fantasy/escape this should do the trick.
Just a word about the cover...LOVED it! Exactly how I pictured Devin, although the female looks like an extra from a `Little House on the Prairie' episode...
I'm not a fan of Harlequin, which I find very old-fashioned and cliched (poor, unassuming women who somehow marry rich and powerful men and live happily ever after, being taken care of and having babies), but I picked this book up just by chance, and it was really good. It's a perfect blend of fantasy and reality. Devin, an American rock star, has to give up the fast lane for his health, and he decides to go to college in his mother's home country of New Zealand, where he meets & falls in love with Rachel, a seemingly up-tight university librarian. Pure Harlequin-style cliche, right? What would a rock star from L.A. have in common with a librarian from Auckland? But Rachel is no stereotypical librarian (here's the fantasy part), and she really holds her own with the sophisticated and world-weary Devin. What feels realistic and modern is their interaction; they click in a convincing way, and they're both intelligent, humorous, and idiosyncratic. It's great fun to watch them battle and engage, and their first attempt at having sex is hilarious.
I've only given it 4 stars because I found the ending a little rushed (does Harlequin put a word limit on its authors?) - the subplot rather takes over from the main characters, and suddenly 3 months have passed and the couple have ironed things out. Given how skilled Bliss is at writing dialogue, it would have been entertaining to watch Rachel and Devin work out their relationship.
Karina Bliss creates charming characters, an interesting plot, and engaging relationships. She's good enough to make me look at Harlequin in a new light.
Bliss does an excellent job in her portrayal of a rock star who has dropped out of his band and lifestyle to go back to college. We see Devin's charisma, sex appeal, and his difficulties in dealing with Rachel, the librarian, the total opposite of a groupie, who does not know who he is when she first meets him. However, Bliss saddles this book with characters with major problems, all of which she resolves by the end, which distract from the main romance. Rachel is a problem character. She is funny, but she's also extremely prickly and jumps to wrong conclusions too often, especially about Devin. This behavior is obviously a reflection of her insecurity, but it got to be annoying. Bliss also develops Rachel's son, given up for adoption at birth, as he tries to find his birth mother. Although his immaturity and impulsiveness are very believable in a 17 year old, it wasn't fun to read. IMO, Bliss would have been better off concentrating on the main romance and its barriers, instead of dragging in an adopted son, Devin's mother's romance (a little), Rachel's bad relationship with her mother, Devin's brother's problems, etc., etc.
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Both Devin and Rachel hit the ground running when they are both just seventeen. Rachel ends up pregnant and alone, while Devin ends up the newest member of a rock band that's really going places. Fast forward seventeen years and Rachel is a librarian at a university in New Zealand and Devin is one of it's most famous freshman. The band has broken up and Devin is back home in New Zealand to take care of his mother who is still recovering from a heart attack, and recovering from his own issues with drug and alcohol abuse. Being a thirty-four year old freshman isn't easy, and being famous doesn't help the matter. Devin has only one real friend, and that's Mark, but as it turns out Mark just happens to be Rachel's son she gave up for adoption.
The plot does sound rather convoluted, but while reading it, I never once questioned the authenticity of the set up. The characters are all real, likable and fun. Mark, Devin and Rachel are all trying to get over the trauma of their past where they lost trust in people they love. Devin was my favorite character (and I'm not the biggest fan of bad boys). He was honest with Rachel about his feelings for her and also not ashamed of his past. He's making a fresh start for himself and dealing with the new changes in his life while teasing Rachel along the way.
It started a little bit slow for me, because there was an introduction of three main characters, instead of just the standard two, but once the plot gets going it is funny, warm and wonderful. There are more than a few tears towards the end but the fact that both Rachel and Devin were willing to be honest with each other really made this work. Honesty didn't make their problems go away but it allowed them to try to work through them like adults, they even manage to get Mark to act like an adult after some arm twisting.
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