Title: Rock Hard – Chord Brothers Book 1
Author: M. J. Roberts
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Drummer Ryder Chord has tried all his life to live by the ultimate rule in the so-called bro code: you never date your best friend’s little sister, especially if said sister is also your band mate. However, when fate and opportunity collide to bring him closer to the woman he’s always wanted, Ryder is faced with the ultimate temptation. How far will he test the boundaries of friendship for a shot at true love and happiness?
This book was told mostly from Ryder’s perspective, and as a character he has a clear and distinct voice, and an astute (and surprisingly funny) internal radio that allows him to process his feelings and emotions. Music tied and anchored the many elements of the plot, and Ryder’s impulse to express himself through song will resonate with music lovers everywhere who will be able to appreciate the impact of a well-written verse.
The two leads came together like notes in a melody, and their physical and sexual chemistry were obvious from the start. The love scenes were sensually explicit and enticing without being gratuitous. At times, however, it seemed like Ryder was into Lexi purely because of her looks and talent. The author could have given equal care and attention to developing and laying out the emotional connection between the main characters to make their blossoming relationship feel more authentic and believable.
Every so often, the author shifted gears and allowed readers to see events play out through Lexi’s eyes. It gave us a rare glimpse into the characters’ backstory and shared history, and we also get to see where their roads converged so that their combined story can begin. It’s fair to say that this book would have been even better if the author had told it from both characters’ perspectives all throughout, rather than just the occasional treat of a Lexi chapter.
There were hints of mystery and tragedy interspersed with the sexy times, as well as a surprisingly candid approach to a sensitive issue that affect a lot of women in their personal lives. These added depth and complexity to what is otherwise a well-known trope. However, toward the end of the book, the author fell into the trap of overcomplicating situations and adding conflict where it was not necessarily called for, just to amplify the tension.
The premise was strong enough on its own, even without the extra drama. Where M. J. Roberts focused on the interaction and byplay between Ryder and Lexi is where the book shined strongest. Their conversations were witty and enhanced by a well-placed simile, metaphor, or musical reference here and there. When the author allowed her characters to just be, it felt more natural, and it’s proof-positive that when it comes to love stories, less is definitely more.
Rock Hard is ultimately a harmonious tale of friendship, family, and love. It is, in turns, sensual, poignant, sweet, and seductive, anchored by strong leads and an even stronger supporting cast of characters. A quintessential escapist read, this book will hit the right note with readers who like their love stories with an extra helping of spice along with the sugar and everything nice.
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