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REVIEW: Rock Me by Cherrie Lynn

Dear Ms. Lynn:

There are so many great things about your book that I feel kind of sad that my distaste for the heroine kind of ruined the story for me. Rock Me features a tattooed and pierced hero who lives an alternative lifestyle, one that is frowned upon by most of his family. Brian was a wild youth from an affluent family but settled down enough to build himself a future by opening a well known tattoo shop called Dermamania in Dallas, Texas. Candace Andrews is acquainted with Brian because he used to date her cousin, Michelle.

Rock Me by Lynn CherrieCandace is the “nice” girl. She lives a pampered, moneyed life and is currently in college. Her parents are society types and expect Candace to lead a certain type of life, one that does not involve dating guys who have tattoos and piercings all over their body. Candace decides on a small act of rebellion. She wants a tattoo and she wants Brian to be the one to administer it to her. She also decides she wants Brian. Or sometimes she wants Brian. Othertimes, like right after he fingers her in a truck at her insistence, she decides she doesn’t want him.

Let’s talk about Candace. Candace is presented as an immature girl who is on the brink of adulthood. Candace had been home schooled because her parents were so protective of her. Her friends were closely monitored by her parents and she is, at the ripe age of twenty-three, still in college studying to be a social worker. (This is frowned upon by her parents who had hoped she would be a school teacher).  Candace barely has the maturity to decide what to eat for breakfast let alone involve herself in a serious and long term committed relationship. I wish her character arc had been about moving from immaturity to adulthood but instead it was really about Candace trading her parents for Brian. And it’s not that Brian was a demanding, authoritative figure. Instead, it’s that Candace is simply too immature to make decisions for herself and she is never presented as someone who had autonomy of mind.

For most of the book, Candace hides her relationship with Brian, embarrassed to be seen with him. When she finally does throw off the shackles of her parents and their expectations, she does so with extreme immaturity, placing a family event in jeopardy. Maybe some will read this as the turning point of her life, finally exerting her independence. I just read it as supremely selfish and immature because she didn’t face up to the repercussions of her actions, but instead hid. In fact, I had read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler with my daughter a couple of weeks before reading Rock Me and I felt like the immaturity level of the 11 year old female protagonist and twenty three year old Candace was on par.

[spoiler]She is supposed to be a bridesmaid in a wedding but runs off the night before with Brian to a concert in Austen and refuses to answer her phone because she is afraid of what her parents will say and doesn’t want to ruin her time with Brian.  She skips the wedding entirely saying that someone else will fill in for her.[/spoiler]

The love me/go away emotional tug of war that Candace put Brian through, particularly when he had his own demons of acceptability to struggle with wasn’t a) fair or b) authentically carried out. In other words, if Brian really did struggle with acceptance, like Candace did, wouldn’t a woman who was constantly trying to hide their relationship have had a larger emotional impact on him? I found his endless patience and understanding to be writerly manipulation. Candace never once takes responsibility for her actions, for the hurt she had to have caused Brian, for the inconvenience to her family. I just wished the entire book she would grow up.

Brian’s family is mostly disapproving despite the fact he was a successful business owner. Even his brother Evan, who is supportive, never really acknowledges Brian’s achievements which I found odd. I guess I was supposed to believe that Brian’s family never saw past his misspent youth. His prosecutor brother, Evan, notes that Brian’s friends are always on the wrong side of the courtroom. But Brian had been a successful business owner and hadn’t had any legal problems so either his family wasn’t very close (and they were portrayed as having regular get togethers) or they were very myopic (some prosecutor Evan is). What I felt like was that Brian’s conflicts with his family was included to create a more active character arc for Brian, but it didn’t feel authentic because of Brian’s 10 years of sobriety and successful business ownership. What did feel authentic is that Brian still felt at odds with his family (rather than his family being at odds with him).

Brian’s commitment to Candace wasn’t something I understood.  His sentiments that he would never allow her to run away from him and that he would always be there for her were great and romantic.  But that didn’t fit Candace’s story arc.  She didn’t come from a family where she wasn’t supported or were she was rejected.

Toward the end, Candace tells Brian that she wants to save herself but those words ring hollow.  I was dissatisfied because I never felt like Candace had grown up or that she was deserving of Brian. As much as you tried to sell me on the idea that Candace had self actualized, I never bought it, which was too bad because I loved pierced, tattooed Brian and his alternative lifestyle; the sex scenes were great; and I enjoyed your voice. Too bad Candace was in the book. C-

Best regards,

Jane

Book Link | Kindle | nook
| Sony| KoboBooks

According to my Amazon record, I paid $4.24 for this book. It’s probably around category length.

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

17 Comments

  1. Lynette
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 11:33:18

    Totally agree with this review. I had the exact same reaction when I read the book when it first came out. I liked Brian but the heroine’s immaturity annoyed me and ruined it for me.

  2. Jane
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 11:34:50

    @Lynette: I saw your goodreads review and I agreed with it wholeheartedly. In my Kindle, I have a note that says “Jesus, I hate this chick.”

  3. Rhianna
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 11:53:38

    Thank you for the honest and well voiced review Jane. This one caught my eye but the many reviews I’ve seen seem to echo your thoughts regarding the heroine and knowing myself as I do I think I’d hate her with a burning passion.

  4. Cherrie Lynn
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 12:30:46

    Thank you so much for the review, Jane! I appreciate it and I’m glad you found things to like about it despite the presence of Candace. ;)

  5. TKF
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 13:33:02

    Home schooled society girl whose parents want her to be a teacher? This does not compute. At all.

  6. k reads
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 13:47:50

    Immature heroines make me nuts. (So do immature heros but it’s a trait that seems to more commonly occur with female characters in my experience.) There have been several series where I have stopped after book one because no matter how well written the rest of the book was, I couldn’t get past the childish antics of the heroine.

    Can I ask, what do you mean by “alternate lifestyles” in regards to this particular book? While the hero’s business is not typical, I’m not sure I understand what makes his lifestyle alternative. He sounds like a rebellious kid who grew up to be a successful small business owner.

  7. FiaQ
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 14:06:21

    When I see that title, I can’t help but think Oooh, rock me, Amadeus / Rock me, Amadeus… / Rock rock rock rock me, Amadeus / Rock me all the time to the top….

  8. LoriK
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 15:23:55

    If you like the idea of a tattoo artist hero with a more mature love interest you might try Coming Undone, which is the 2nd in Lauren Dane’s Brown sibling series.

    The hero, Brody, left art school to take care of his younger brother & sister after their parents died and now has his own tattoo shop. He gets involved with a single mother named Elise who has plenty of issues, but she isn’t a child.

  9. Sunita
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 16:51:43

    @FiaQ: Well, that’s a lot better than Andy Kim’s “Rock Me Gently.” I’m barely staving off the earworm.

  10. Jane
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 16:54:37

    @k reads: You know, as I sit here, I can’t really recall what his about his lifestyle would be considered alternative. I just got the vibe from the author that he was meant to be out of the mainstream with his tattoos and piercings (all over such as the apa).

    @LoriK: Read it and reviewed here at DA. I thought the book dynamic was boring, actually. I wanted more emotion from the story.

  11. Laura
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 18:31:29

    I am always glad to see a classy author response to a review that isn’t 100% positive. :)

    (On a pickier note, Austen is an author. Austin is a city. *wink*)

  12. Lynn S.
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 22:00:07

    I have this on my TBR pile; bought it because the character of Brian intrigued me. From your review Candace seems more than a bit of a monkey wrench. I suppose I could think of her as one of those Harlequin-style placeholders. But that’s not the way or the why of my reading and I loathe the idea of placeholder heroines; even poor immature Candace probably deserves better than that.

    I’m with TKF in thinking the homeschooling/teacher angle is somewhat strange. Maybe her parents wanted her to get that elementary education degree; teach kindergarten for a few years; nab a doctor (preferably a cardiothoracic surgeon); and then settle in to homeschooling her own brood. I’d better stop with my rambling yarn before I start feeling sympathetic towards Candace.

    @Sunita: You are just too good to us. FiaQ’s Rock Me Amadeus I wouldn’t mind, but now I need intensive doses of musical therapy to stop myself from humming Rock Me Gently all weekend. The video on YouTube, Rock me gently 2, is a riot even though it dug the worm in deeper. Needless to say I have nothing to do this Friday night.

  13. Cherrie Lynn
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 23:06:13

    This I cannot abide. The earworm you all *must* be left with is from Great White.

    “Rock me! Rock me! Roll me through the night…”

  14. LoriK
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 09:43:10

    @Jane: I knew I heard about the book somewhere, but I didn’t remember that it was here. Sucks getting old and forgetful.

    I had some issues with the conflict in Coming Undone as well. I liked the characters, but wished they were in a more interesting story. Personally I prefer that to having an OK story about characters that I want to smack, but mileage varies and all that.

  15. Avid Reader
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 11:20:33

    Nah, lots of different kinds of people become teachers. Having been one, I can tell you they come from rich backgrounds, poor backgrounds — doesn’t matter. I know now of a kid getting a full scholarship to Yale whose goal in life is to be a high school science teacher, with his parents’ support. It drives me a little nuts when readers think all characters from X background must behave in X way. Clearly that’s not the case in real life.

  16. Lynn S.
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 11:26:10

    @Cherrie Lynn: Much too awesome to be an earworm. When I read the book, I’ll definitely be thinking of it and all the wonderfulness that was the Hair Bands of the ’80s.

  17. Sara
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 20:42:34

    I thought I was being childish in thinking that Candace didn’t deserve Brian! He was such a GREAT, 3 dimensional hero and Candace was very hollow in many ways. All in all, I really enjoyed the book, even though I kept wanting to smack the heroine.

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