Softer Than Steel
Love & Steel Series – Book 2
By Jessica Topper
From the author of Deeper than Dreams and the Much “I Do” About Nothing novels, a story that proves that you have to find yourself before you can find love…
As rock star “Riff Rotten”, Rick Rottenberg has enjoyed all the perks that fame can offer, especially now that he’s reunited with his former band mate, Adrian “Digger” Graves. But despite his success, Rick is a mess. Still reeling from the death of his wife years ago and terrified his demons will end his career, he agrees to seek help for his anxiety.
Burned by a musician in the past, Sidra Sullivan has closed her heart to love. So when Rick walks into her yoga studio, she wants nothing to do with him–until the bad boy shows an unexpected soft side.
As Sidra and Rick work through their painful pasts, they realize just how strongly opposites can attract. But when a crisis threatens the delicate balance they’ve forged, they’ll discover if their love is strong enough to weather another storm or just too broken to survive…
INCLUDES A PREVIEW OF THE FIRST LOVE & STEEL NOVEL: LOUDER THAN LOVE
“Making music has got to be like . . . like childbirth, bringing something totally new into the world like that. Isn’t that scary?”
Rick contemplated her comparison and she waited, watching him with those incredible eyes, both dark and bright. “Yes, in a way it’s bloody terrifying,” he admitted. The creating and the coaxing, making sure what you envisioned in your head translated into reality and not just a shadow of itself. “But the excitement and exhilaration trumps the fear.” He popped a pair of headphones on her ears and backed out of the room with a grin.
Behind the console, he flicked switches, adjusted levels, and pressed the talkback button. “Pay no attention to the man behind the glass,” he whispered, but Sidra’s broad smile told him the console mic had sent his fluid murmur to her ears crystal clear.
She tentatively tapped the double-mesh screen of the microphone in front of her. “But don’t you worry, once it’s out in the world . . . what everyone thinks of it? Of you?”
“I used to get caught up in it. But you’ve just got to trust and make peace with the fact that you put in—and put out—your very best effort.”
The track he chose for her flowed not only through her headphones, but the speakers of the console in front of him as well, its beat and melody causing the indicator lights to jump and fall in time. Sidra’s eyes closed and her frame rocked slightly. To me, Rick thought.
That’s my music, moving her.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Softer Than Steel by Jessica Topper. The Love & Steel series is an unique rock star romance series. Rather than featuring young rock gods making their rise to fame, Jessica chose to create rock god legends making a comeback from their super stardom of the eighties. These are middle aged men that can rock the house and still make the panties drop.
Softer Than Steel features Rick Rottenberg , aka Rick Rotten. He’s at crossroads in his life and the pressure is on. Rick is a widower, father, empty nester, perfectionist, and lead vocalist for the band. He can handle being on the stage in the spotlight better than he can handle most social situations. He has anxiety attacks that can be brought on by the slightest imbalance or new situation. He hasn’t engaged in relationships with the opposite sex since his wife passed fourteen years earlier. He carries guilt, grief, and remorse with stoic pride. He loved fiercely and lost his wife too early.
The band has been touring for the last four years. They were supposed to control their own destiny but the old patterns are playing out. Adrian is finally going to get married. The band is finally going to make an new album. For Rick this is his main focus and priority, for the other members of the band it is secondary to their own personal lives.
Rick’s panic attacks escalate and he starts to take yoga as a way of releasing his built up tensions. Rick wanted to learn how to control his panic attacks but he got a bonus to go along with it. He was learning to love again.
Sidra is a yoga instructor. Her vast knowledge of the practice keeps her students coming back for more. When the handsome English Professor joins her class, she finds herself deeply attracted to her new student. When she finds out he is a famous musician all bets are off. She’s been there, done that, and walked away deeply scarred. Never again! But Rick is persistent and he shows Sidra there are more sides this man than fame and music.
I really enjoyed the book but it felt a bit slower than the previous books in this series. The book was too well researched. The practice of yoga took over the story and the main characters seemed secondary. I did not feel the overwhelming chemistry, attraction, or passion between Sidra and Rick. I also think that there were too many secondary characters that hindered the flow of the book because the reader had to stop and think how they were connected to the story before they could move on in the passage. There were the band members, their business associates, Kat’s group of friends and their families, Sidra’s family and friends, yoga instructors, and other supporting characters. Also there were too many different themes going on. Sidra was half Indian and half Irish. There was focus on her culture as well as her family background. The reader also got to experience her past relationship with a musician that left heartbroken. Rick was English and Jewish and there was quite a bit of focus on that, not to mention the band’s past and present careers. There was also a focus on Rick’s personal past and his loss. There was just too much going on in this book and the romance got lost in many passages.
Overall it was a well written book but just not the same caliber as the previous books in this series.
I would still highly recommend the Love & Steel Series by Jessica Topper.
The Love & Steel Series
Louder Than Love – Book 1
In this powerful debut novel, a young librarian grieves the loss of her husband…and discovers a love that defies classification.
It’s been over three years since a train accident made a widow of Katrina Lewis, sending her and her young daughter Abbey back to the suburban town of her youth…the only place that still makes sense. Lauder Lake is the perfect place to hide and heal.
Recluse rocker Adrian “Digger” Graves survived the implosion of his music career, but his muse has long lain dormant. Until Kat hires him to play at her library—not on the basis of his hard rock credentials but rather, because of the obscure kids’ TV jingle he wrote years ago. In a case of mistaken identity, Adrian stumbles into the lives of Kat and her comically lovable daughter.
Using tattoos as a timeline, Adrian unfurls his life for Kat. But as the courtship intensifies, it’s unclear whose past looms larger: the widow’s or the rocker’s. Will their demons ever rest, or will they break these soul mates apart?
Reviewed: September 2013
A strong debut for new author Jessica Topper.
Louder Than Love is an extraordinary love story. It’s about second chances in life. It is about making peace with oneself and moving on to become a better person. It is about letting go of grief and moving on.
Adrian “Digger” Graves was once a metal guitar god in the eighties. His star burned bright. Corroded Corpse was the metal band could shred the metal and rock the house. Fame, fortune, sex, drugs, and corruption ruled his life. It also sent him spiraling down into the depths of hell. It was time to pay the devil his dues. In the process he lost himself. He lost his family. He lost his self respect. He lost his band. It took him years to recover and become a part of the real world once again. He learned from his mistakes and vowed he would never make them again. Along the way he learned there were other things more important in life than fame and fortune.
Katrina Lewis had the perfect life. She had the perfect husband and child. One tragic moment takes it all away. Now she is a single parent trying to overcome her grief. She’s not ready to move on but she knows it’s time. When she seeks out the mysterious composer that created music for a popular children’s show to perform at her library, she’s in for a great surprise. Rather than getting an unknown musician, she gets Digger Graves from Corroded Corpse. The rock god that covered her bedroom walls as a teenager. Kat is going to learn that there is more to this legend. She’s going to meet the man who’s music touches her soul. It doesn’t matter if he’s playing a children’s song or shredding the metal, he controls the strings to her lost heart.
Louder Than Love is unique because of the characters. This is not your typical rocker book that is in the new adult genre. It is a mature contemporary romance with mature characters. They have both loved and lost. They both have had lives that most would of would envy and want for their own. Both their worlds tumbled out of control. Amongst the chaos they both survived their worlds and came out different people. They have both had to rebuild their lives, rebuild themselves, and face past mistakes. The end result is that they will experience a love that is extraordinary.
This is not a second chance romance where lovers reunited. It’s a second chance for happiness. It is a new romance that enriches their lives and brings out the best in both of them.
I truly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.
Deeper Than Dreams
Love & Steel Series – Book 1.5 – Novella
By Jessica Topper
Will wedding bells rock out for Louder Than Love’s most beloved couple in this Love and Steel novella?
Falling in love with rock star Adrian “Digger” Graves was a dream come true for former librarian Kat Lewis. But with a little help from friends and family–including Kat’s adorable daughter, Abbey–Adrian has planned an evening and a proposal beyond her wildest dreams.
The night before, Kat witnessed the triumphant reunion of Adrian’s rock band at Madison Square Garden. Tonight, he will escort her to the elegant, ultra-exclusive Library Lion’s benefit. It seems like a fairytale, but even fairytales have a deeper, darker side. When old habits return to tempt her knight in shining heavy metal armor, will Kat’s happily ever after come crashing back to reality?
THIS IS AN EPILOGUE NOVELLA THAT PICKS UP THE DAY AFTER LOUDER THAN LOVE ENDS. This novella is intended to be read after Louder Than Love.
Don’t miss the next Love and Steel novel, Softer Than Steel, coming in September 2015 from InterMix.
It”s been two years since the first book, Louder Than Love in the Love & Steel series by Jessica Topper released. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was excited to see the sequel novella, Deeper Than Dreams releasing. As I started to read Deeper Than Dreams, I realized that it picked up right where Louder Than Love left off. With such a lengthy time span between the release of these two books I had forgotten quite a bit of the story. Therefore I felt like I had to go back and reread Louder Than Love. After reading Louder Than Love once again, I had to revise my review. I was still enraptured by this story and felt like I had a more constructive review the second time around. I was anxious to proceed on and read Deeper Than Dreams.
Deeper Than Dreams cannot be read as a stand alone novella. It is more of an epilogue for Louder Than Love.
Adrian Digger Graves has just had his big comeback performance. He has reunited with his old band and played at Madison Square Gardens. He is on a high from the success. The music world is praising their performance. Corroded Corpse is on their second claim to fame. The first time almost destroyed him. Will the resurgence of Corroded Corpse be a good thing or bad thing for Adrian?
This time around he has life experience, maturity, and a strong woman in his corner. He knows that love and family come first. He’s determined to hang onto it all.
A dream date. A magical proposal. A perfect Cinderella. A beautiful princess. A solid support group. And finally a better band.
Adrian Graves has it all. Most of all he has the love that lasts a lifetime.
I loved this novella. It gave another happily ever after for Adrian and Kat.
About Jessica Topper
Jessica Topper is an ex-librarian turned rock n’ roll number cruncher. She can trace her love for the written word back to age three, when she memorized Maurice Sendak’s “Chicken Soup with Rice” in its entirety.
After her daughter was born, Jessica left the Manhattan library world and began working for her husband’s music management company. He offered her a part-time bookkeeping job so she could “stay home for the baby’s first year” and pursue her dream of writing.
The baby is now thirteen, and Jessica has been working her full-time, sold-her-soul-for-rock-n-roll job as Office Manager for veteran jam band moe. ever since. She may have traded in books for bookkeeping, but the written word is never far from her mind, or her heart.
Jessica lives in upstate New York with her husband, daughter and one ancient cat.