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REVIEW: Rock Hard by Olivia Cunning

Dear Ms. Cunning:

I can’t recall exactly why I picked up this book.  It may have been on a reader recommendation or something else. But I did buy it and it languished in my to be read pile for some time.  Erotic romance based around a heavy metal rock band with a lawyer to be heroine.  What could go wrong?

rock hard cunning I’m certain that the book was laughing at me from the minute I started it.  We meet our young couple, Sed and Jessica when Jessica breaks the good news that she go into law school.  The two are engaged to be married after dating for four months.  When Sed objects that he can’t afford law school for her, Jessica is unworried.  She will get “scholarships, grants, waivers” and that she only has to come up with $3,000 a semester.  Cue hysterical laughing by me and every other poor schmuck who has went to law school. I believe that the average cost of three years of law school is a couple hundred thousand, but hey, let’s not let reality get in the way of a good story.   Unfortunately Sed doesn’t want Jessica to go to lawschool.

“You’re not going to law school. You’ll be far too busy keeping me entertained in the bedroom. When that gets boring, you’ll popout five or six kids and take care of them while I tour with the band and make us all rich and famous.”

Jessica is crushed and aghast:

That was his big scheme for her life? Was he fucking kidding her? “I’ve dreamt of being a lawyer since I was a little girl, Sedric. I am going to law school. And you’re not telling me how to live my life.”

Fast forward two years later. Sed’s band is getting to be famous and Jessica is fending off a lecherous Dean and trying to grapple with the fact that one of her law professors hates her for doing something law students are supposed to do.  To wit, examine case law and tear it apart.  But really, why focus on getting these details correct when it provides the basis for Jessica’s next move?  Right, because she refused to take out loans and her scholarships, grants, waivers won’t cover the entire amount of money needed to pay for school (which is $8,000), Jessica decides she will strip.  It won’t have any bearing on her ability to have a legal career post school.

It just so happens that Sed and his bandmates are going to a strip club one night and Sed finds Jessica there.  Sed can barely believe it.  He’s crushed too.  Sed has spent the last two years nailing everything that moved in an effort to heal his broken heart.  Sometimes, he can barely get it up unless one of his bandmates is watching.  Or someone is watching. Sed’s attitude is truly cavalier.

In the dimly lit bedroom of Sinners’ tour bus, Sed gazed down at the bombshell blonde. She pressed her unnaturally firm breast into his arm, a coy smile on her hot pink lips.
“But Sed, the show’s sold out.” She pouted and placed a presumptuous hand on his belly. “Don’t you have some extra tickets?” When he didn’t respond, her hand drifted toward the low waistband of his jeans.
These chicks were all the same.
“I might.” Sed rubbed his jaw. He needed to shave before they headed to the club for his lead guitarist’s bachelor party. He had a few minutes, though.
“Can I have them?”
“Depends. What will you give me in return?”
Her hand gripped his waistband and she jerked him toward her. “I’ll suck you off.”
They never offered to do his laundry.
Sed fished several condoms out of his pocket and examined them. “I’ve got cherry or piña colada flavored.”

Once Sed has seen Jessica, though, it takes more than one groupie to make him happy.  Back to the strip bar, Sed sees Jessica and tries to haul her off the stage. His bandmates and he get into a huge fight with the bouncers.  One of the bouncers takes an aluminum bat to the back of the guitarist’s head.  (This is vitally important).  So Jessica gets a job working for Myrna, Sed’s bandmate’s new wife.  Myrna has a doctorate and is studying groupies and is willing to pay Jessica $10,000 for two months of data entry work.  Who knew academic research paid so well?

While Jessica is in the tour bus, broken hearted Sed comes in with three groupies and despite being totally in love with Jessica, he hauls the three groupies to the rear of the bus.  Now this tour bus has seen so much action that its more toxic than the Playboy mansion whirlpool tubs.  I felt like I should be wearing a condom just reading it.  Thankfully Sed uses a condom when he is with his groupies. And what is even better is that Sed is a conservationist.  When Jessica bursts into the room with the three groupies going down on Sed and proceeds to take their place, Sed doesn’t even change his condom.

Hell, he hadn’t even respected her enough to change into a new condom before thrusting into her body.

Isn’t that awesome of him? I thought so as I shuddered and crossed my legs. Update: I forgot to add the most important point and that is not a few pages later, Jessica and Sed are going at it without a condom because Sed assures her that he is safe. So is she. SAFE?

Now this all may make it sound like Sed is a bad guy and Jessica is the hurt party here.  But no! They are equally unlikeable.  Whenever Sed is down, Jessica verbally kicks him in the face by telling him that he is worthless to her as a human being and she’s only using him as a toy, even after he professes to have some feelings for her.  Because Jessica doesn’t believe in Sed’s feelings for her nor does she want to be dependent or needy.

The outer door opened. Closed. Had he really abandoned her? Just because she’d called him a toy? Was that really all it took to hurt him? Too easy.

Maybe if that confusing sentiment had been the core of the book and the parties had grown from there, this would not have been the shambles it was.  Instead, the plot of the story revolved around the baseball bat hit that the guitarist suffered. I guess it was set up for the next book in the Sinner’s series, but it was odd that so much time and attention was paid to the guitarist’s issues that had nothing to do with bringing Sed and Jessica together or driving them apart.  It had nothing to do with their character growth (had there been any).  You could have removed the entire part of the story relating to the guitarist and its absence would not have been noticeable. In fact, I could have done without this reference:

Jessica?s curiosity stirred. “How did Trey lose his virginity?”

“Let’s just say he’s been with an older woman,” Sed said.

“Much older,” Brian added.

“There’s nothing wrong with older women,” Myrna said defensively. She patted Trey’s hand again. “Besides, it?s sorta sweet that his grandmother’s best friend helped him out.”

But even if this book was just about sex and nothing else, which it could very well have been, what is with the use of the unsexiest porn noise ever?

He gasped, his thrusts faster but not as deep. “Jessica,” he whispered. “Oh, Jessica. Yes, baby. Squeeze me. I need it. Ungh.”

“Ungh, you”re driving me insane,” she panted.

No, not yet. Not yet. Ungh.

“Ungh, I”m gonna come. I”m gonna..

“Yeah, baby. Squeeze me. Ungh.”

God, her thighs. And her slender calves. Thighs. Ass. And her…”Ungh.”

Ungh.  Really? Ungh. The conflict between Jessica and Sed crescendoed (had to avoid climax and head here) when Jessica’s potential legal career is placed in jeopardy because of the constant public sex she likes to have.  And whatever Jessica’s childhood dreams may have been, she is quick to shuttle them aside.  All Jessica and Sed really do is fuck, mostly in public places, and then get upset about the aftermath, and say mean things to each other. These mean things are driven by insecure and immature misunderstandings.  I have no confidence that Jessica and Sed won’t break up a million times before one of them dies of a drug overdose or a plastic surgery gone terribly wrong.  I guess if a reader is looking for fan fiction of Brett Michael’s Rock of Love, they should look no farther. Strangely, while these rockers may love kinky sex, exhibitionism, and groupies, they are not into drugs or alcohol.  D

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Dana S
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 12:44:38

    He didn’t change the condom? Oh, ewwwwwww. Kudos to you for finishing it. I would have stopped right there.

  2. Hurog_Kate
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 12:50:12

    Oh, that’s too bad. I just finished reading the first book in the series, in which Myrna and Brian get together, and I really liked it. I was somewhat surprised to find out that Sed’s book would be next, because I thought he would need massive amounts of growing up before he could get back together with Jessica. But I loved Trey. Maybe I’ll get this and just skip to the Trey parts in preparation for the next book! :)

  3. j3nny
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 12:58:38

    I was pretty disappointed in this book. In fact I didn’t even finished it. When I read the first book, there were parts where I was like “I guess that could happen…realistically…maybe…” After finishing the first book, I actually was looking forward to reading Sed’s book. When I got this book I was like meh really? In the beginning I was rolling my eyes. But I tried to keep with the story. Then I just got pissed. For someone who really hated Sed, Jessica had no problems getting it on with him earlier on. I would’ve thought someone with her past, she would’ve had more spunk. Then the whole job thing came up. It all seemed so ‘convenient’ that it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t believe it. I just couldn’t finish the story.

  4. Jennifer K.
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 13:08:19

    This book sounds horrifying.

    However, regarding law school. If she went to a state approved, instead of ABA approved (so if you’re in California it would be a CBA school instead of an ABA school) it’s possible a semester could be that cheap. State Approved schools are far cheaper in general (although they usually provide the same quality education.)

  5. Rebyj
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 13:26:06

    Darn it! I just read Backstage Pass last night and although there were lines I read out loud to the man to snicker over I DID like the book. I tweeted today that I would buy this book on payday. Now thinking twice about that.

  6. Jane
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 13:37:37

    @Jennifer K. Really? in many states you have to have a diploma from an ABA accredited law school in order to even sit for the bar exam.

  7. Jane
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 13:39:30

    @Rebyj So someone needs to tell me the lollipop fetish thing.

  8. pamelia
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 13:47:51

    This book was a big DNF for me and I really enjoyed the first book, but when I skimmed ahead to see if there might be a way to redeem either Jessica (“I hate him so much I have to come up with a million different ways to have sex in public with him!”) or Sed (just “UNGH” describes him perfectly), and I saw what she decides to do with her life it completely squicked me out. First you have Myrna as the tour bus mommy cooking and cleaning and screening groupies and now Jessica’s equally “nurturing” choice? It’s just so… icky to me. I won’t give much more away, wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone who might enjoy it. Plus, although the sex scenes in “Backstage Pass” were really hot and fun, the sex scenes in this book read like instruction guides to me. I’m really really hoping the next book is as good as the first one, because (again) I loved the first one.

  9. Pat S.
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 14:00:36

    I just finished reading Rock Hard and came away with a totally oppposite opinion of it. I loved it. I loved that two people were able to move beyond the hurts of the past and develop a new relationship. Yes, they hurt each other, but they also forgave each other. It’s not easy when a fierce, protective, proud man like Sed Lionheart falls for an equally proud and independant woman. And Jessica’s law professor doesn’t hate her for doing what she’s supposed to do. Her law professor resents Jessica because she herself is being coerced (in a particularly cruel way) into doing something hurtful.

    What I loved most was Ms. Cunning’s wry sense of humor, and the way she totally “GETS” the way guys are, especially with each other. There’s a lot of tenderness, and humor, and heart in this book. Just my opinion.

  10. Has
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 14:16:40

    I have the first book and heard very good things about this but this sounds really icky in a lot of ways. The condom thing :S

  11. Pat S.
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 14:38:23

    In fairness, on the condom thing, the groupie had him in her mouth (with the condom), but he hadn’t come. Yes, I know the mouth can be a hotbed of germy things, but it’s not as icky as it sounds.

  12. Hurog_Kate
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 14:51:46

    @Has — as I said, I really liked the first one. As did a number of folks. It’s definitely worth reading. For this one… it’s definitely back-burnered for a while.

  13. Has
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 15:12:31

    @Pat S.:

    But the idea of him being so dismissive about not changing a condom in the first place is icky for me. And even if its only oral – he had no concern for the heroine :P


    I will pick up the first book, but I think I will give this one a miss. I don’t like the sound of the hero and the heroine isn’t that appealing to me either.

  14. Rebyj
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 15:40:58

    @Jane Trey’s lollipops were a replacement for smoking but they did seem to have a life of their own . The scene my man laughed and ewwww’d over the most in the first book was a rather graphic play by play of someones actions in a neighboring bathroom stall during a bathroom sex scene. He begs me not to read aloud to him but I just can’t suffer alone sometimes lol.

  15. Jennifer K.
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 16:04:23

    @Jane Yep, some states have their own bars. You can’t practice in other states without jumping through some major hoops (and sometimes not at all depending on which state you original went to school in) but otherwise it’s not really that different.

    In California, quite a few of the CBA only schools are strictly night schools. They chose not to get ABA accreditation because it would have forced them to offer day classes, which went against the nature of the school missions: to allow professionals who work during the day to attend class at night. It takes 4 years instead of 3, but the work is the same.

  16. Lindsey
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 16:32:20

    Aw, this is disappointing. Like many others, I got the first book of the series when it was free, and I actually enjoyed it. Despite the occasional suspension of disbelief, it really worked for me, and the sex scenes were excellent. I was looking forward to Sed’s book, but now, I think I’ll pass.

  17. sarah t
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 16:56:52

    @Jane: I gotta say…that lollipop fetish scene in Backstage Pass was the only reason I bought Rock Hard. And I couldn’t agree more with your review. I wanted to punch Jessica in the face, the whole law school storyline felt tacked on to me, and the whole thing could have been about 50% shorter. And Ungh? Ick.

  18. Janine
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 17:12:38

    Haven’t read the book but that string of unghs was hilarious.

  19. Janine
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 17:14:41

    Oh, forgot to add. For anyone looking for a really good book with a rock star hero, I recommend Till the Stars Fall by Kathleen Gilles Seidel.

  20. Jane
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 17:15:34

    @Jennifer K. I believe every state has it’s own Bars and few of them accept candidates who have not attended an ABA accredited law school. I believe California and Nevada are two that do.

  21. Tina
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 17:15:43

    I actually only gave the first book 3-stars. It was just ok,imo. I actually thought the sex interfered with a better book struggling to get out. I was debating on whether or not to give this one a try to see if I might like it better than the first one. But it sounds like it would just make me exasperated.

  22. Lori S.
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 18:13:11

    Out of curiosity, what kept this little gem out of F territory?

  23. sula
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 18:20:55

    I really enjoyed the first book, but I was surprised that Sed’s story was tackled second. He seemed like the most “in need of redemption” of the bunch, so I hoped that his story arc would be a bit more lengthy. That said, I’m sure I’ll still read it because I get a kick out of the interaction between the guys in the band. And I want to see more of Brian and Myrna. And Trey!

  24. Hurog_Kate
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 19:38:20

    @Rebyj — OMG, the bathroom stall scene was hilarious. But I loved it. Because, in all the various OMG-Can’t-Wait-Must-Screw-In-Public-Bathroom scenes I’ve ever read or seen, that has never happened… which has to be statistically near impossible in the real world. LOL

  25. Rebyj
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 20:09:39

    @Hurog_Kate. We laughed so hard over that scene. There were several funny scenes in Backstage Pass.

  26. Niveau
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 21:45:30

    @Janine: Thanks for the rec; I looked it up and it sounds good. *adds to TBR* Somehow, reading reviews about books that failed massively at something always makes me want to read a book that actually succeeds at said thing.

    I’d also add a recommendation for Honey Trap by Julie Cohen. The hero comes mostly pre-redeemed, thankfully, but the heroine did know him back in the bad old days.

  27. Ren
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 00:30:09

    All I can say is “ouch!” Love the review lol

  28. SN
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 02:15:27

    Holy crap – a law degree in America costs hundreds of thousands of dollars??!! That beyond ridiculous – you guys need some education system reform. I studied law and it cost maybe fifteen thousand.

    I thought the first book was dreadful and could never understand the five star fangirl reviews.

    I read plenty of erotic romance, but Backstage Pass was the first to make me feel like I needed to be disinfected. It was dirty and completely unromantic.

  29. SN
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 02:17:58

    Of course I meant ‘that’s’ ridiculous – welcome to Easter afternoon, post-champagne.

  30. Janine
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 10:52:42

    @Niveau: Thanks for the rec. I hope you enjoy Till the Stars Fall.

  31. Gillian
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 11:07:55

    Ungh. I don’t think I’ll be buying this one :-/

  32. Lynn S.
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 11:41:14

    Based on the book quotes, especially Sed’s “barefoot and pregnant” speech, I would think satire or parody was at work but apparently not. I call foul on lack of alcohol, at least one of these folks had to be liquored up. Was the “D” grade a bit of pre-Easter generosity?

    As interjections go, Ungh is one the strangest I’ve seen. Thanks to Urban Dictionary I’m at least able to wrap my ears around the sound, the spelling seems wrong though. Here’s hoping it doesn’t catch on in the mainstream. I can see the editorial suggestion now . . . “the sex scene is great but would be better if you punched it up with a few of those visceral unghs.”

  33. Jane
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 17:38:41

    I guess my feeling on F books is that there have to be unpublishable elements in it, like terrible grammatical or editing errors. Maybe that’s the wrong metric but after reading so many unpublishable books, I feel like I can’t give these books an F.

  34. DeeCee
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 18:08:02

    And I thought the J. R. Ward bathroom menage was gross. Ewwwwwww……

  35. Black Velvet
    Apr 25, 2011 @ 06:04:44

    Yeah, I’ve been waiting for this book for a while and picked it up as soon as my order arrived at the store. I stopped reading if after the sex between Jessica and Sed. SO many things made no sense (many of which you mention here)
    I want to read the other stories, but dear god if they’re all start to sound as clicheed as this one I’ll pass on those too, she goes back on my do not purchase until previewed list….this is a DNF for me and it goes into the slush pile for donation.

  36. Stefanie
    Apr 25, 2011 @ 08:32:08

    Great review, Jane! I read the first book in this series, Backstage Pass, and enjoyed it. So, I grabbed this one. Big mistake! I am a lawyer also, and found the whole law school plotline completely unbelievable. Furthermore, I could not see how any 2L who was supposedly as brilliant as Jessica did not have a paid summer clerkship/internship lined up! Finally, the sex just did not do it for me. I thought the sex in Backstage Pass was a lot more fun and inventive. I will probably read Ms. Cummings’ next installment, but I hope it is a lot better than Rock Hard.

  37. Treasure
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 19:51:17

    Totally agree about Till the Stars Fall. You can’t go wrong with Kathleen Gilles Siedel anyway, but that is great book. And if you want to brush up on the groupie perspective, Pamela Des Barre book “I’m With the Band” is also terrific.

    This book? It had it’s moments, but I agree with someone up thread who felt there was a better with less sex struggling to come out and I mean that for both books both books. As a new author Olivia Cunning deserves an editor that can help her correct the inconsistancies in both books, and create something truly worthy of these very endearing characters

  38. MrsJoseph
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 10:32:17

    This review actually sums up how I feel about the 1st book, too. I’m hating it so much I can’te get through it. Rock Hard will not be purchased…

  39. Tiffany
    May 09, 2011 @ 15:43:47

    I’m officially disappointed. I planned on reading Backstage Pass AND Rock Hard by the pool this summer. Definitely changed my mind. Although, there seems to be some good buzz about Backstage Pass, so I might still read that one. Anybody have strong feelings on it?
    I’ve never read a band / groupie novel before.. I typically read a lot of interracial romance like Sinful Liasons by JC Gardner, but I’m looking to branch out. I think I’ll check out Treasure’s suggestion of I’m With the Band!

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  43. B
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 06:12:14

    […] von Band 1 der Sinners-Serie so begeistert war, waren meine Erwartungen an das Folgebuch trotz des DA-Verrisses hoch. Vielleicht zu hoch: Die Kritikpunkte von DA würde ich nämlich zwar nur zum Teil […]

  44. B
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 09:30:57

    […] Da Myrna mit der Band auf Tour ist, und sie alle auf engstem Raum in zwei Tourbussen leben, lernt man auch die anderen Mitglieder der »Sinners« näher kennen. Sie könnten unterschiedlicher nicht sein, und das, was man von ihnen mitbekommt, macht einem große Lust auf die weiteren Bände der Serie. Und deshalb hab ich »Rock Hard« auch noch während des Lesens von »Backstage Pass« bestellt – trotz des »Ungh«-Verrisses von DA. […]

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