Donna Reads: Bad Rules (A Wild Minds Novel) by Charlotte West

3AA1C408-8E00-4627-B2A4-B76197BD153BI was given an ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

I love Charlotte West’s writing. Her books are usually an easy read for me with great dialogue and thoughtful character development. Her books are a must read for me. 

In Bad Rules (A Wild Minds Novel), Lily Phillips-Thomas, best friend of Addison Price, our heroine from Book One in the series, has been raised by nannies in lieu of her absentee parents, anthropologists who travel the globe. Lily and Addison at one point in the past followed Wild Minds, a rock band, across Europe, and Lily who was never shown love or tenderness by her parents, began to fall in love. Things didn’t work out, and she and Addison ran. In present day Addison is pregnant by her rock star husband and needs Lily to come with her on tour again, putting her in direct contact with her ex. Although this is a rock star romance there is little of the usual rock band part of the story. I forgot half the time what the hero’s “job” was. 

I never once connected with Lily. She was a feminist, and that’s all she was. She was so one dimensional. I got sick of hearing her spout her vitriol about feminism and smashing the patriarchy and blah, blah, blah. It got old. And what was up with the seventeen marriage proposals? Every guy who meets her within ten seconds wants to marry her even though she’s telling him he’s a pig and all men are jerks. We kept hearing how smart she was, yet she was so stupid. 

I get that she was abandoned and damaged by her idiotic parents, but why did she spend the entire book chasing after them still seeking their approval? Her mother was a true bitch yet Lily was just like her. Wouldn’t she have bent over backwards to distance herself from that nonsense? I didn’t “get” Lily at all. 

I loved that the hero, Asher did, however. He was crazy about her. I spent the entire book feeling sorry for this man. From the video he had playing on repeat on his phone while he slept, to the women he had visiting his hotel room and the reason why, to his telling Lily “I’m into whatever you’re into”. He was so obviously in love with her and destroyed by the fact that she couldn’t love him back that he turned to alcohol. He broke my heart. 

I would’ve loved to have had more of him in the story and less of Lily and her constantly interacting with other men. Ash deserved better. This read was worth it for me solely because of the hero. 

Never the Same

Prompt:  Eye Contact: Write about two people seeing each other for the first time.

The roar of the crowd was muted deep in the bowels of the arena, but it was still noticeable even over the bustle of the backstage personnel. He reached down to give the wrinkled puckers of fabric on his tightly-fit dark denim jeans a tug to straighten the edges where the hems broke over his scuffed boots.

He loved those boots. They were black leather motorcycle boots with the stirrup strap and rivets. They’d been through a lot of good times together from concerts to bars to bike rides. He could afford to own hundreds of pairs of shoes, but he always seemed to come back to the boots.

The boots meant freedom to him. With the hectic lifestyle he led with the band’s overloaded concert schedule, he seldom had any free time. When he wasn’t on stage somewhere, he was giving interviews or in a studio recording new tracks or holed up somewhere trying to make the jumble of notes and words in his head organize themselves into magic on paper or flow easily from his fingers and guitar’s strings. Riding his Harley was not something he got to do very often. If his manager had his way, he’d never do it.

He bit back the sigh that wanted to escape. Feeling sorry for himself wasn’t something he was going to give in to anytime soon. He hated that shit. Poor, lonely rockstar. No one would believe him if he were to give voice to that thought out loud. He rolled his spine back up as he rose to his full 6’4″ height.

He’d no sooner stood up straight when he was forced to bend again as the stylist flitted to a stop in front of him. She was a tiny bird of a woman. He doubted she even reached five foot. She reminded him of his grandmother with her green jeweled glasses and dyed black hair. She had to be nearly sixty, but she had been with them from the start and she was the only one he let touch his hair.

“Let me…,” she began, and he bent over a bit so she could reach his hair. He waited patiently while the twitchy woman worked her fingers through the rich tobacco brown strands of his choppy, shoulder length hair. Russet and amber colored highlights glinted throughout the thick strands. He was often asked who colored his hair, and he’d smile and say, “Mother Nature.”

As the pint-sized stylist manically fussed through his hair, his dark brown gaze drifted to watch the foot traffic he could see passing by out in the hallway behind her. It was always the same people – security, assistants, roadies, techs and various other hangers-on.

The woman finished his hair and turned to reach for a makeup case she had sitting nearby. She latched onto a huge, feathery brush and dipped it into some flesh-toned powder. When she went to take a swipe at his face, he quickly stepped back.

“No,” his husky voice rasped out. He heard a masculine snort of laughter at the same time she asked, “No? You’re a little dewy tonight, Dev.” The snort came again, and he looked up to glare at his friend, the band’s drummer.

“I’m good, Magda,” he told the stylist. He gave her a smile and she reached up to brush some powder she had spilled off of the form-fitting black band t-shirt he had on. Her small hands flitted across his stomach, and he waited patiently until she was satisfied he was presentable.

She hurried off to check on the other band members and the two backup singers. He raised a brow as his best friend snorted again.

“Magda had to touch the six pack!” Ricky chortled.

“Shut up.”

“Come on,” his friend, the jackass continued to rib him. “All the women want you. Did she touch your ass, too?”

“Shut the hell up,” he grumbled, trying not to smile at the goofy grin on Ricky’s face. He and Ricky had been tight since they were ten. Ricky had moved to his neighborhood and they had found themselves in the same fifth grade classroom. Their friendship had been inevitable when Ricky told him his favorite band was the Foo Fighters. He’d been stuck with the horse’s ass ever since.

“Devan and Magda sittin’ in a tree,” Ricky sang, and then stopped and quickly ducked, laughing as a lazy punch swung in the direction of his head.

“Five minutes, gentlemen!” a fussy voice interrupted their clowning around. He did sigh this time, and he flipped off the tour manager’s back as he rushed by and bustled through, gathering them all up to herd them towards the stage. Ricky laughed again as he saw the gesture.

One of the guitar techs brought him his Gibson Les Paul, and he stood still while the tech fastened the leather strap for him and hooked the wireless transmitter to the back of his jeans.

He thanked him and looked up as their bass player, Treat and their rhythm guitarist, Zach joined them both. They were all ready for the stage. Ricky made a fist, and he put his hand on top of Ricky’s fist. Treat’s hand covered his, and Zach’s went on top of Treat’s. Their two backup singers, Tiffany and Kayla, hurried over to get in on their traditional pre-concert ritual. They crowded in with the four guys and put their hands on top.

“We gonna kick some ass?” Treat bellowed, and they all yelled an affirmative response.

“Who’s gonna blow the rafters off?” Ricky cried.

“We are!” they all yelled.

They tossed their joined hands high in the air and broke for the door.  As lead singer and lead guitarist, he brought up the rear as they stepped out into the hallway.

He felt the hum of excitement as he strode towards the stage and the hometown crowd. They’d been a band for over ten years, and they were at the top of their game, playing venues all over the world. Even though they were world-famous, it was always good to come home again.

As nice as it was, though, it was true that every town and city had begun to look the same. The faces that crowded the stage, cheering them on, had begun to blur, and the playlist of songs sometimes felt stale. He had lately begun to wish for something more, perhaps a life beyond the stage, something he could call ‘normal’ in the chaos that surrounded him.

As he followed the band towards the stage, he noticed a crowd of dignitaries and VIP’s standing over near one of the arena’s hospitality suites. The crowd seemed to part at just the right moment, and there she was.

He stopped in his tracks as his eyes met hers. Her huge baby blues looked boldly back at him. Who was she? She was absolute perfection, her petite body exquisitely dressed in a vivid red dress and black platform stiletto heels. Her white blonde hair cascaded wildly down her back.

As he gazed longingly at her, the tour manager hurried back to push him along towards the stage and the waiting crowd. He refused to break eye contact with the glamorous blonde. He had to find out who she was. He needed to meet her because he knew his life was never ever going to be the same again.





Write to Live

Reading or writing? What’s that expression about can’t walk and chew gum at the same time? Well, I can’t read and write at the same time. If I’m reading and plowing through romantic fiction, I can’t write my own. I’ve discovered several good book series that I’ve enjoyed immensely. Recently while racing through books and writing book reviews, I put my own attempts at fiction aside. It was good to step away from my characters for a bit. It gave me perspective and renewed enthusiasm for my project.

anxiousIt also made me nervous and anxious, and I wondered why my stomach was flaring up on me again. I missed my characters. My fictional world is about a rock band of five guys and the five women that they love. I’ve rough-drafted four of the books, and for the fifth and final one I totally changed it up and wrote alternating points of view. I’ve loved writing this last one so much I will probably re-draft the other four books in the same format. For now, I’m loath to finish. This male character is my favorite, and I don’t want the book to be over. I’ve lived with these ten main characters for months. They’ve become quite real to me.

After my break in writing, I’ve picked it back up again, and the joy of writing just consumes me. For months now, I’ve found myself writing constantly during all my spare time. Writing took over when school ended. There are things I must get down on paper. I don’t know if they’re good things yet, but they need to be said. I write on the fly, and sometimes when I have multiple chapters done, I go back to re-center myself in the story and end up rewriting and overhauling as I go.

castlesI’m glad I’ve rediscovered this hobby of mine. I enjoy it so much. When I’m not writing, I feel only half alive. I used to write all the time as a teenager. It was fun then, too. I was always trying to write something romantic yet humorous. As a teen, I was quite shy, and I wrote to live the romance I didn’t have going on in my day-to-day life. I stopped for a few years when I started working at age 19, and then I picked it up again for a few years in my 20’s. It then got shelved for life and living. When romance in the real world came along, marriage, more working, and raising a family became my priorities.

onlyawriterWhen I wasn’t writing, I would still make up stories in my head, often while falling asleep. They’ve always been there. It’s only within the past year that I’ve started writing them down again. I’ve always had imaginary conversations and scenes playing out in my head. They always say if you can’t find a good book to read, write one yourself. Write what you would like to read. I’ve read hundreds if not thousands of books in my 57 years. Not all of them have been well written. Many weren’t worth the time I wasted reading them.

write-itThe interesting thing is we’re a family of writers. My husband blogs when he’s not trucking. His writing format has changed a lot. He went from keyboard to dictating his text, and we all like to tease him about the random spur of the moment thoughts he’ll speak into his phone. I blog, and I write fiction. If I’m not at the keyboard, I’m pecking out paragraphs of text on my iPhone’s notepad. My boys write, too. Perhaps it’s in their blood.

I’m hoping that all the time I’ve spent working through scenes and dialogue over the years translates well to paper. That remains to be seen yet.

Images courtesy of Pinterest

Donna Reads: Reaper’s Property 

I just finished Reaper’s Property by Joanna Wylde.
Marie needs to save her brother Jeff’s life. He’s messed with the wrong people. Stealing $50,000 from a motorcycle club and thinking he could get away with it without paying in some fashion is a clue that Marie’s brother isn’t all that bright. Marie has just gotten away from her abusive husband and is living with her brother as she figures her life out. She ends up getting caught in her brother’s mess and being used for collateral. One of the gang members, an ex-Marine called Horse wants Marie. To save Jeff’s life, Marie becomes Horse’s property. 

This is my first biker romance. I liked that there was an alternating point of view. While it was mostly told from Marie’s POV, we get to see some of Horse’s motivation and some of what goes on behind the scenes with the club.

In reading a number of the reviews on Goodreads, this seems to be the type of book that people either love or hate. What cracks me up is that many who wrote negative reviews missed the point. It’s a romantic FANTASY. It’s not real, people, and the characters are fictional. He’s supposed to be rough, crude and domineering. He’s a biker. He’s not Casper Milktoast, the Accountant. I didn’t take as much offense to his aggressive, rough side as some did because that’s what I was expecting from the character. Marie wasn’t all virginal sweetness either. She’d had a rough upbringing, her family is less than impressive, and her marriage was horrible. 

While I did find her character stupid at times, most romantic heroines are. They do the exact opposite of what they are told to do, and they get into trouble so that the hero can save them. I liked the twist in this story where Marie came to his rescue instead.

I enjoyed this book enough that I read it in one day. I don’t mind my heroes a little rough around the edges. He made more sense to me than those otherworldly (totally unbelievable) heroes (vampire, demon or some other immortal or non-human type lover/romantic lead). Yes, the story is a little racy, but racy is good, and it has the happily ever after that I need in a romance. 

Count me as someone who really liked this book. I’m reading the second installment in the series now.