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MINI REVIEW: Rock Chick Rescue, Rock Chick Redemption, Rock Chick Renegade...

The following are mini reviews of books 2, 3, and 4 in the Rock Chick series by Kristen Ashley.  I read these in lieu of my category books even though they are each about twice as long as an HP.  All the books feature a woman in jeopardy, girl parties with the Rock Chicks that end up in some kind of brawl or mishap, and the men to the rescue.

Rock Chick Rescue by Kristen Ashley

Jet is the shy martyr heroine who takes care of her mother who recently suffered a stroke and works two jobs (one at the coffee shop and one as a waitress at a strip club). She is in lust with Eddie Hernandez but figures a guy like him could never be interested in a homely girl like her. Of course, Jet is not homely but instead is gorgeous and Eddie has wanted her after seeing her for the first time. This was problematic for me because in Rock Chick, Eddie supposedly had feelings for Indy for decades. That he could overcome this so quickly didn’t seem very genuine to me.

While I liked Jet, her constant low opinion of herself was tiresome. Everyone told her she was gorgeous yet she refused to believe it, thus conveniently drawing out the emotional conflict.

The obligatory “get me” statement:

“Whatever happens, you’re worth it and I don’t want to hear you say again you’re not. Get me?”

The obligatory “pain in the ass” statement:

“It’s a good thing you’re so damn pretty, Chiquita, because mostly, you’re a pain in the ass.”

A black lady is introduced into the cast of characters. I will note that while there are men of various ethnicities who play the hero role throughout the series, the women are largely anglo and none of the hero or heroines are black. Native American, Mexican American, Hawaiian (and thus Asian American descent) all represent in the “Hot Guy Bunch” as they are called.  A black guy becomes part of the Lee Nightingale crew so hopefully Ashley will write his story else I’ll be sorely disappointed.

There are some racial overtones to the book in that Eddie is Mexican American and there are some white girl jokes spouted off by some black characters. I felt vaguely uncomfortable but acknowledged that these were likely authentic dialogue. Example:

“I’m gonna go say hi,” Ally said.

Indy grabbed her.

“Don’t say hi! We’re in Darius Domain. He doesn’t want some white woman in red knit with her ass hanging out walking up to him to say hi.”

I found Eddie to be slightly overbearing and Jet to be slightly too much of a martyr.  I’d give this a C-

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Rock Chick RedemptionRock Chick Redemption by Kristen Ashley

This was my second favorite Rock Chick book. It is the love story between Roxie Gilbert, web designer on the run, and Hank Nightingale, bad ass cop. Roxie fell in love with Billy Flynn who proceeded to drag her from city to city, making money likely through illicit means, and isolating Roxie from friends and family. Roxie would try to run away and Billy would find her and bring her back. Except for the one time in which Billy pushed Roxie against the wall and told her that she could never leave him and the other time he took a sledgehammer to Roxie’s door, she was never physically afraid of Billy but she knew she had to get rid of him. (Frankly I thought Roxie’s blind belief that she was physically safe from Billy was insane. He had classic stalker/girlfriend beater written all over him but I even forgave Roxie for this because she later acknowledges that she was stupid to believe Billy was safe and too cocky to think she could outrun him without some help). Roxie devises a plan to save enough money to get her to Mexico and off the grid, some place where Billy can never find her. She stops off first in Denver, CO, to see her uncle Tex, a former Vietnam veteran who had cut off ties with his family. Tex is a crazy guy who cat sits and makes divine coffees.

Roxie, unlike Jet, is a looker. She dresses well, looks good, has her own business, is friends with a funny female businesswoman, and if it weren’t for her really bad taste in men, she’d be pretty set in life.

Hank is much less of a Neanderthal than the other guys of the Hot Bunch (as the Rock Chick girls call them). There’s no “get me-ing” or “pain in the ass” refrain in this book. Roxie feels tainted by her association with Billy and thus not good enough for the very good guy, Hank. Hank’s a sweetheart:

“I wasn’t asleep when you sang ‘Because the Night’ either.”

Holy cow.

I jerked up on my elbow again. “Please tel me you’re kidding.”

“Nope,” he said again.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I rolled away, he rolled with me, caught me around the waist and pulled me back into his body.

“Now, I have to leave,” I said.

“Why?”

“It’s embarrassing. My singing sucks.”

“It sounded good to me.”

“That’s because you like me.”

He kissed my neck.

Then he settled behind me and said, “Yeah.”

But, just to make sure that we haven’t gotten our hopes up too high, there are some exhaustive rundowns of the attire of the heroine, in depth descriptions of Hank’s house, and fulsome meal listings. After a while, I kind of looked at this as a feature. Like would she forget to tell me the brand of the shirt this time? or maybe the shoes? whether they had gueyere cheese dip or fresh chopped salsa?

We went into the Levi’s store where he bought me a pair of low-rise jeans that were just this short of being as good as Lucky’s, a great belt that was so dark brown, it was nearly black and a dusty pink henley. It wasn’t D&G but it would do in a pinch. Then we went into a Body Gap and I got new underwear. Then we went to Designer Shoe Warehouse and Vance bought me a pair of Keds so I could change out of Manolo Mary Jane’s.

I sometimes wonder if Ashley isn’t paid by the word like the scribes of old… C

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Rock Chick RenegadeRock Chick Renegade by Kristen Ashley

This is probably my least favorite Rock Chick book even though I liked the characters separately, or at least I wanted to like the characters. It was primarily the overwriting, the repetitiveness, and the non stop oversharing that detracted from a positive read. There was one very special scene in the book that I liked.

Juliet Lawler is a social worker who became too attached to the kids she was trying to get off the street. One of her favorite kids died either from an overdose or bad drugs and Jules took to the street. She would play games with the dealers by interrupting buys with smoke bombs or shrink wrapping their doors. She started making a name for herself on the street and thus became a target. One drug dealer was convinced that she loved him and others wanted her out of commission. Enter Vance Crowe, member of the Nightingale Security company. Vance takes an immediate liking to Jules but he wants her off the street as well. His methods are fairly heavy handed.

Jules felt like she had the right to be on the street but the way the story was written made her look like a foolish twit. I was frustrated with her and her portrayal and wished she had been written to be more competent.

Requisite pain in the ass reference:

“Girl, it’s a good thing you’re so fuckin’ beautiful or you’d be a serious pain in the ass.”

Apparently the first person becomes limiting and there are point of view switches from Jules to Vance (rarely) and other random people. These switches from first person to third person were awkward and intrusive.

Jules is a virgin and while I appreciated the meaningfulness of it in the context of the overall story (Vance had never had anything that was solely his) the cherry popping scene was mortifying. Jules has a conversation with her friend May and a bunch of the Rock Chicks, none of which she knows well, and has a discussion about how to proceed to lose her virginity to Vance. Some advise her to not tell him, others say confess. What she doesn’t know is that her house is totally wired with cameras and sound and the entire Nightingale crew eventually sees this conversation. It’s a big joke for everyone in the book but I thought it was super skeevy.

Vance jumped off the counter and leaned into me to put his bowl next to mine. “You ever do a shift in the surveillance room, you’ll understand. Gotta have something to break the monotony.”

I turned to him. “Well, break it with something else. I don’t want to make an enemy of Lee.”

His arms slid around me. “That’s not gonna happen.” His face came close to mine. “The cherry poppin’ conversation in your living room was the topic of conversation for days. Mace taped it and played it for the whole team.”

I was back to staring at him with my mouth open and I think my heart stopped beating. “Look at this as your way of getting even,” he finished.

At times, I felt like I was watching the Maury Povich show or some other reality TV show where the women overshare, sometimes attack each other, and the men beat their chests.  D

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Surely that is enough for today. I’ll have the rest of the Rock Chicks tomorrow.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

16 Comments

  1. Kaetrin
    May 17, 2012 @ 06:11:04

    I’m curious as to what was the very special scene in the last reviewed that you liked. Can you share or is it too spoilerish?

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  2. Kati
    May 17, 2012 @ 06:19:24

    Surely that is enough for today. I’ll have the rest of the Rock Chicks tomorrow.

    I’m not sure I could ever get enough of these reviews, Jane. I’m in the midst of KA’s Golden Dynasty. It’s beyond cracktastic. I’m chortling all over the place. My husband thinks I’m insane.

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  3. Isobel Carr
    May 17, 2012 @ 09:39:17

    Please tell me that description of shopping is you making fun of the book and not something that is actually IN the book? PLEASE!!!

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  4. Sunita
    May 17, 2012 @ 10:09:08

    @Isobel Carr: Betty Neels used to talk a lot about the specific food at meals, buying clothes at certain shops (Jaeger for skirts and sweaters, M&S for undies). It was kind of funny but it did telegraph very clearly what the character was like. This doesn’t sound nearly as well done, though.

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  5. Jane
    May 17, 2012 @ 10:14:52

    @Kaetrin: It’s spoilerish but what the hey. Vance figures out Jules is a virgin and he is so moved that he can barely talk. He then tells her that other than his bike (a Harley) that nothing has ever been solely his. That his whole life had been about leftovers and discards and eating out of dumpsters and the idea that no man had ever touched her, put his mouth on her, was more than he could have ever imagined. Her virginity or lack there of didn’t matter to him when he took up with her, but he found it to be an incredible and precious honor. That was pretty touching.

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  6. Jess
    May 17, 2012 @ 10:31:12

    I love KA books but you’re right about her stock phrases. You forgot to mention the “You’re not wrong”/”he wasn’t wrong” phrase that is in every book. It’s a fairly unusual way to phrase something… most people would say “You’re right,” or “I agree,” etc. I have yet to read one of her books where the heroine doesn’t think someone is “not wrong” at least once.
    I didn’t realize she was self-published. I wouldn’t want an editor to make her change her style, but the books could definitely use some polish. I also found the entire series and all the characters to be repetitive from book to book. I like the story, though, so I plan to keep reading.

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  7. Anne V
    May 17, 2012 @ 11:45:07

    I really enjoy KA books – they’re total escapism, and they’re long, way longer than many romance titles. I like her voice better than Evanovich’s. I like that her heroes and heroines are often older, with baggage and that not everything ties up neatly for everyone.

    The RC series ties with the Ghosts & Reincarnation series for my least favorite of her work. I read all of her series books out of order and across series, which I think helped keep me from getting caught up in some of the more repetitive tropes and phrases.

    All of her titles have certain things in common – women who have strong friendships with other women, men who are impatient and bossy (and often have motorcycles), detailed descriptions of wardrobe and (weirdly) kitchens/kitchen remodels, american cars (crossfire, charger, corvette). I’m sort of puzzled by why the wardrobe, kitchen & car stuff doesn’t bug me and I’ve concluded that it’s because they work for me as flags for class and culture.

    My tics about her writing are boring: I just very very much want passed and past to be used correctly in KA’s books – I’ve taken to fixing them in Calibre before reading any of her books, because I find it so irksome and distracting. The britishisms running rampant through Indiana and Colorado are distracting. I don’t like the epilogues (which are much beloved by other readers). The changes in POV are erratic – sometimes they work and other times they really don’t. There’s a sense of contrived chaos in some of the later RC titles (#s 5 & 6, especially) and in the 4th of the Burg books that is annoying.

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  8. Maili
    May 17, 2012 @ 13:29:42

    @Anne V: Britishisms? Based on those excerpts here and in other reviews alone, the author seems American to me. If she really is British, then she wins my admiration for managing to make her characters sound ‘naturally’ American. Most British authors couldn’t pull it off with books I read.

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  9. Jane
    May 17, 2012 @ 13:38:21

    @Maili: She lives in Britain and has for a long time. She uses a lot of Britishism like “bloody” for curse words and … there are other phrases. I tune out a lot of stuff when I read her.

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  10. Jane
    May 17, 2012 @ 14:58:49

    @Jess: You are not wrong about this.

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  11. Jane
    May 17, 2012 @ 15:01:10

    @Anne V: There are those children memory songs where each verse adds a new item to be recited in a litany. That’s how the latter Rock Chick books feel. There are paragraphs of descriptions where all the character pairings are recited in one big wall of text. It’s hilarious in how bad it is. The truth is that so much of the “bad” parts of her books could be excised without affecting her voice.

    I do think you are right, though, that the clothes and cars and houses are class and culture flag and part of the reason I find Ashley so compelling is the downmarket feel to the stories.

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  12. leela
    May 17, 2012 @ 16:34:46

    Surely that is enough for today. I’ll have the rest of the Rock Chicks tomorrow.

    Oh, I’d say that’s enough for forever. Really, there’s no need to keep torturing yourself on my account, at least.

    No, seriously. These stories aren’t good enough to be redeemed, and don’t sound so excruciatingly bad that they’re snarkable.

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  13. Kaetrin
    May 17, 2012 @ 20:37:33

    @Jane: Thx for letting me know. That does sound kind of sweet.

    As to “you’re not wrong” I hear it fairly often in Australia (I use it myself in fact) and we are a mish mash of cultures here – we pick up US sayings from TV/movies/the internet but have a lot of British sayings too. I suspect (and possibly a Brit can chime in and confirm?) that “you’re not wrong” is more common in England.

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  14. Maili
    May 19, 2012 @ 07:13:10

    @Kaetrin: I don’t know whether it’s more common here, but I have heard some Brits using ‘you’re not wrong’, but only in humorous context. I use it as a joke, too. I feel it’s more common for Brits to be neutral while agreeing, such as “Yes, quite”, “Yes, I suppose so”, “I couldn’t disagree with that” and similar. So yeah, I don’t think I have heard one saying ‘you’re not wrong’ seriously. FWIW.

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  15. FlutterGrrrl
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 08:09:37

    I’ve just finished the 3rd Rock Chick book and I’m torn; the writing is far from perfect to the point of irritating and I feel as if I have read the same book 3 times, just with revolving main characters! …not sure how much more I can take of it.

    The women are all two-dimensional; obsessed with fashion and all apparently the same size (as they share clothes and shoes with their local drag queen – who must be frikkin’ tiny!), let their “men” talk them into absolutely anything with a bit of slap and tickle and seem to do the dumbest things when their lives are in danger, whilst trying to prove they are their own women and answer to no-one. Pffft.

    The men on the other hand are borderline neanderthal, despite the fact that they’re all perfect to look at (as if!!). Sure, it’s nice to have someone take the reins and make the decisions in a time of crisis, but these guys seem to only pretend to let their “women” have any control over their own lives, and even then it’s just for a few minutes!

    That said, I do enjoy the hot the bits, as I would love a man to show me he has the upper hand from time to time. But if those are the only redeeming features, maybe I should just go read some submissive erotica!

    I’m glad I found this site – I shall be using it before wasting any more time ;)

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  16. Jane
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 18:29:47

    @fluttergrrl. We are all wondering what her alchemic control over us is.

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