Donna Reads: Rock Hard (Rock Kiss #2) by Nalini Singh

rockhardThe Blurb: Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.

And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.

Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.

If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.

This is the second (third if you count the novella) book in the Rock Kiss series by Nalini Singh. When I read the first book in the series (Rock Addiction) and got to know Molly and her best friend, Charlotte, I found myself more drawn to Charlotte’s character than I ever was to Molly. I really wanted to read Charlie’s story. She was the more interesting character. She was funny and sweet, and it was obvious from the start that Charlie had serious issues of some sort. She’s shy, she’s timid, and while she’s always cheering Molly on to try more and reach for more, she’ll never do that for herself. She’s too damaged.

Gabriel Bishop is an ex-rugby player whose career was cut short by an injury. He’s ruthless as a businessman, brought in to save struggling businesses, he’s smart, he’s dedicated, and he cleans house. Charlie spends the first part of the book terrified of him and worried that she’ll be losing her job, too. Gabriel quickly sees that the timid mouse who works in records is the one who’s doing most of the work that his personal assistant is supposed to be doing. When his PA is his next victim, he promotes Charlie to that position. Charlotte intrigues him. She’s talented, she’s highly intelligent, and she’s as dedicated as he is, staying late hours to work just as hard as he does, but she’s terrified of him.

I loved Gabriel. He is one of the most patient heroes ever. He constantly pokes at his Ms. Baird, finding that stirring her to snap at him in anger gets her past her paralyzing fear and shyness. Molly, always on the phone with Charlotte, is pushing her to stand up to him. Molly has realized that Charlie likes Gabriel and not just as a boss. She tells Charlie to be brave and to live her life. Her support and encouragement and Gabriel’s strength and persistence convince Charlie to open up.

I knew that what had happened to Charlotte was bad, but reading it was heartbreaking as she was telling Gabriel everything. She’s been through hell, and her fear is understandable. It breaks her own heart that she has flashbacks and panic attacks. Gabriel remains steadfast in his determination to get her past the horrors. He is one of my favorite romance book heroes. He has demons from his past that still haunt him and make him the driven man that he is today. Along the way, Charlotte helps him to grow, too. Despite the horrors of her past, their love story was sweet and wonderful to read.

I highly recommend this one.

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