Bookpushers Joint Review – Rock Hard (Rock Kiss #2) by Nalini Singh

cover_rock-hardPublisher: TKA Distribution
Publish Date: Out now
How we got this book: ARC from the author

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.

Where blurb came from the author’s website

1. Thoughts on the Hero

E: Gabriel aka T-Rex was so much fun to get to know. Aggressive and determined at the same time I loved how very slow and patient he could be when it came to Charlotte. I am also turning into a Rugby fan but that is a different story. Once a famous rugby player after an injury forced retirement Gabriel took his on field aggression and transferred it to the world of business forming a successful multi-faceted empire. Always looking for a challenge, he was known for his ability to move in, take over, and turn a failing company back into a successful one and then leaving for the next challenge after earning a sizeable fee. Hired by the board of directors to rescue a once exclusive luxury boutique chain he noticed Charlotte. I loved how he would deliberately push her buttons in an attempt to get her to show her personality and to also demonstrate she had no need to fear him. He made me laugh several times as he alternately apologized with baked goods and demanded all of her attention yet relented whenever Charlotte told him he was being very unreasonable. For all of his rough no-nonsense work demeanor, he was so gentle and loving to his nieces and really devoted to family. I also really liked how Singh gave him flaws, some serious ones, which colored his chances of a successful relationship with Charlotte and made him grow emotionally.

Marlene: This is a portrait of the ex-sports-superstar as a business shark, and it is fantastic. One of the things I really liked about Gabriel is that he not only clearly loved the game he played, but has found a healthy way to continue that love through coaching instead of wallowing in “what might have been”. The way that he gives back, as well as his relationship with his extended family, humanizes him. And he really needs some humanizing, because in business he is a workaholic shark. He’s fair, but he’s also hard. He has taken on the challenge of bringing one company after another back from the nearly dead. He’s very successful, and extremely hard-nosed out of necessity. Cutting out the rot usually means firing one hell of a lot of rotters. One of those serious flaws that E mentioned was the way that the tragedy in his background continued to influence his present behavior, and definitely not for the better. He may be swoonworthy in a lot of ways but the author makes it clear that the man is also a LOT of work for Charlotte, and not just in the office.

Lou: T-Rex was T-Rawr! He’s a former rugby play and he is so swoon-worthy. I’m a fan of the secretary/boss trope done right, and Nalini done right and more with Rock Hard. I adored this book and the characters. T-Rex was a typical alpha male but he was also sensitive to Charlotte’s needs. Gabriel pushed Charlotte in her professional work capacity and he also pushed her when she needed pushing because of her fears of her past. But he also knew when to shut-up and put on his listening ears. He was a refreshing change of a domineering hero who put Charlotte’s needs before his own and respected her 100%. But he also challenged her sexually and I think Nalini had a perfect balance.

Has: Like I said on twitter the other day, T-Rex was the T-Sex because he was one of the best heroes I’ve read in a while. I loved how alpha but never verging into the ass territory although Gabriel did ruffle feathers and intimidated people. But I loved how he read people and instead of just being an arse, he pushed when they needed it and supported people when they needed help. And this is how he reacted towards Charlotte, who really began to shine and come out of her shell and I loved how he interacted with her. I definitely agree with all of you about that balance that Gabriel had with challenging Charlotte and then he loved her being outspoken, and challenging him back. It made their relationship stand out and sparkle. I adored him!

MinnChica: The first thing I said when I finished this book was that Gabriel was my new #1 book boyfriend. He was everything I love about a romance hero. He was strong and sexy and so dedicated to Charlotte. He pushed her to be better professionally and personally. He wanted the very best for her, saw the potential in her, and worked WITH her to help her achieve everything she was capable of. I absolutely LOVED that about it. He was the absolute perfect romance hero. Definitely swoon worthy!

2. Thoughts on the Heroine

E: I have wanted to know Charlotte’s story ever since she popped on screen during Rock Kiss. She was so supportive of Molly as she struggled with her relationship with Zachary Fox and it was evident the two ladies had quite a history being there for each other through the good and the bad. It was fabulous watching Charlotte emerge from her camouflage bit by bit and continue reclaiming her life after becoming stuck in a rut. To see her accomplish this while dealing with “T-Rex” and his ability to run over other people was even better. I think I actually cheered when she made the decision to take charge of her continuing recovery and work for what she wanted instead of remaining passive. Food was such an integral part of the entire story from the beginning I loved seeing the variety of different emotions and actions evoked or punctuated by food. As part of it, I enjoyed how baking was both Charlotte’s stress relief and her protected hobby. Charlotte was so much fun to discover especially as she insisted on taking care of Gabriel and refused to only accept the parts of him he was willing to share.

Marlene: I, too have been waiting for Charlotte’s story ever since she served as Molly’s stalwart bestie in Rock Addiction. What I really liked about Charlotte in Rock Hard was the way that she slowly shed her skin. She had a lot to get past, and she didn’t instantly get better. Her journey was two steps forward and one step back, and it felt real. While having Gabriel in her life to challenge her certainly helps her, Charlotte is the one who has to do the heavy lifting on her own recovery, and she does. Sometimes over Gabriel’s objections, which is also part of her recovery. In order to stop being “Charlie-the-mouse” she needs to learn to speak up for herself in every situation, especially with Gabriel who would otherwise bulldoze her. And she definitely does learn.

Lou: I loved Charlotte. Despite the nickname Gabriel gave her, she was no mouse. After her initial fear and nervousness of T-Rex (which included a first meeting of chucking a stapler at his head) she went toe-to-toe with him and they engaged each mentally which I think is just as sexy as the physical attraction side of a romance. She really grew as a character and I adored her to pieces. Because of her painful and shocking history, Charlotte had set-backs and was extremely wary of T-Rex but I never got a power imbalance. Charlotte really held her own, and though T-Rex was her boss, it never crossed a line. Well. It did but it was done in a way that was totally believable and on equal footing.

Has: I loved, loved, LOOOVE Charlotte! I was also intrigued by her story and how her relationship with Gabriel would progress, and it did not disappoint! I loved how she emerged from her fears, and past attack and began to rebuild her confidence because of her clashes with Gabriel which was fun and hilarious but also helped to ratchet up the tension which consistently built up in a terrific way.

MinnChica: Like Gabriel, I also fell in love with Charlotte. If I could chose a romance heroine to be besties with, I think I’d choose Charlotte. She was so caring and supportive of her friends. I love her friendship with Molly and how dedicated she was to being the best possible friend. Her reactions to Gabriel cracked me up. I loved that she called him T-Rex and referred to herself as a mouse. It was such a sweet dynamic to their relationship, and I loved them together. She was the best compliment to his character, and they made romance couple magic for me.

3. Favorite Scene

E: Oh I enjoyed several scenes in this story but my absolute favorite is about 70% into the story when Gabriel and Charlotte admit to each other some of the things they did in an attempt to get each other’s attention. To me it really said so much about their personalities. Gabriel was trying to get an obvious outward response while Charlotte just decided to get even but in such a way Gabriel didn’t have any grounds to complain. Just thinking about this scene makes me sit here and giggle.

Marlene: My favorite bit is part of the same scene. The point where Charlotte tells Gabriel EXACTLY how she sabotaged every single one of his dates was priceless. I laughed and chortled through the whole thing.

Lou: I had so many favourite scenes in this book. From T-Rex taking her to a rugby game to their first sexy times to Charlotte telling T-Rex she was engaging in hotel nooky to piss him off. Can I just call the whole book my favourite scene?

Has: There are a slew of my favourite scenes, and you all mentioned them. But if I had to pick up the highlights, it would be their first meeting with each other, when Charlotte chucked the stapler at him, and he recommended to pick a heavier object in future and the ending. Because it was a huge contrast with how these two characters started, and how they complimented and balanced each other out. This was a true romance about facing fears and supporting and loving each and emerging stronger because of it.

MinnChica: Oh god… all of those scenes were priceless. I’m with Lou in thinking that the entire book was just one really long scene that I never wanted to end!!

4. Dislike about book

E: The only thing I wished I had seen was more of Gabriel’s transformation from working ALL the hours to only working SOME of the hours. It was such a critical piece of his relationship with Charlotte yet the transformation seemed a bit glossed over as if it just happened without any relapses. Although I loved how Charlotte made her point about it.

Marlene: Charlotte’s psychopathic ex was such a bogeyman hanging over her entire story that his swift dispatch at the end felt more than a bit anticlimactic. While it was great that Charlotte realized that he was no longer a serious threat to her before he finally appears, one swift thwack with a heavy purse didn’t seem like it should have been enough to end his threat. As huge of a roadblock as he was in absentia, it felt like he should have been a looming danger much longer at the end.

Lou: I really didn’t have any dislike in this book. None.

Has: I don’t really have any dislike at all!

MinnChica: I also didn’t have a single dislike in the book, except that it had to end. I can only hope that in the future books we get to see Gabriel slow down a bit on the work front and enjoy life.

5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade

E: Once more Singh has created a story I will continue to reread. I loved getting to know Charlotte and Gabriel especially after the teasing bits provided in Rock Kiss. Watching them work through their personality challenges, differences in nature, and their mutual pasts was very entertaining. I also urge you to actually read the titles for each Chapter because they are absolutely delightful! I can’t wait for the next installment.

I give Rock Hard an A.

Marlene: I absolutely loved this story, and poured through it in just a few hours. This was far and away the best book in the series so far. As much as I enjoyed it, I kept having the feeling that I had either read this book before, or something very, very similar. Either I totally absorbed the hints of Charlotte’s story from what she told Molly in Rock Addiction, or I read something recently with the same theme that wasn’t quite as good. (If anyone knows what that book might be, please let me know in the comments) Rock Hard is marvelous fun.

I also give Rock Hard an A.

Lou: I adored this book. I adored the romance. I adored T-Rex in his bossy alpha way. I adored Charlotte who roared up at the big lion and managed to tame him. This is one of my favourite ever boss/secretary romance and it’s going to become a reread of mine for many years to come.

I give Rock Hard an A

Has: I am putting this book, on the special shelf where book boyfriends exist, T-Rex, is definitely joining that special list! Rock Hard is also joining the top books I read this year because I bloody loved the romance, which just sparkled and sizzled with the tension between Charlotte and Gabriel. This is my favourite kind of romance when you’re left thoroughly hooked and entertained by two engaging and memorable characters who are fully fleshed out and with true depth. Nalini Singh, I salute and thank you for producing one of the best romances this year!

I give Rock Hard an A!

MinnChica: All in all, I think Rock Hard is one of my favorite reads of 2015, maybe even the past few years. The romance was absolutely perfect. I loved the way Charlotte and Gabriel had to build their relationship, especially while navigating the waters of working together. It was such a beautiful and sexy and sweet journey these two had as they grew to be perfect for each other. I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s a must read!
I give Rock Hard an A

10 thoughts on “Bookpushers Joint Review – Rock Hard (Rock Kiss #2) by Nalini Singh”

  1. I completely devoured the book last night. And stayed up way too late to do it. I loved the whole thing. It just worked so well how the whole book progressed with T-Rex and Charlie. I’m in deep love and want a Gabriel of my own. I am now thinking of ways I can check out rugby and get some insights on the game. 🙂

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