Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Welcome to the Rise Blog Tour!  It is my special delight to share with you my review of this outstanding book.  Make sure you enter the Giveaway for a copy of the book offered by the author. 

by Karina Bliss
 “You have the ability to make controversial characters sympathetic. Maybe I just want to be understood.”

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes. So bad boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir. Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions - manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic, morally ambiguous.
In short, everything she sought in a biography subject. When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.
Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed-devil is only too willing to stoke. She’d thought self-control was in her DNA, after all she grew up a minister’s daughter. She thought wrong.

Outside your comfort zone is the only place worth living...
Zander Freedman has been an outlier - many would say an outcast – for most of his life. But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the break-up of his band to the fall-out on his reputation. His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph - if his golden voice holds out. Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz; Elizabeth's integrity the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats.
All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not make him think.
Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out. And certainly not to fall in love for the first time in his life.
Turns out he is scared of something - being known.

Elizabeth Winston
Zander Freeman

There is always a special thrill to discover a new-to-me author whose book makes me stand up and take notice.  I signed up for this blog tour because I like to pepper my romance reading with rock –n- roll stories. The personalities, the excesses, the challenges of fame, are a wonderful indulgence that I like to occasionally partake. Rise is that, but so much more. 

What is the “More” (a.k.a. Things I Love About This Book)

The Story

There is an incident in an elevator at the beginning of this book that totally threw me.  After reading it, I knew I was in for a different kind of rock story.  Zander Freeman is on his second round of fame.  After his original members disbanded, he re-assembles his iconic band with new musicians and plans the world tour.  In the meantime, he wants to solidify his place in rock history by writing his memoir.  He hires a Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Elizabeth Winston, to write this story.

On the surface, they are like oil and water.  She is serious, cautious, and thoughtful.  He is playful, risk-taking, and arrogant.  But there is so much more going on underneath the surface.  There are many layers to the story and as each level is revealed, the relationship goes deeper.  The emotions get stronger; the fear and frustration builds. 

I also appreciate the different kinds of dilemmas that the characters face.  To me, they are not your typical conflicts, ones I have not encountered in other books. There are, of course, the traditional insecurities and situations, but they are presented with a twist.  

The Characters

Take a worldly, cynical rockstar and pair him with a fully grounded and practical historian and watch the sparks fly.  I love that this is about a growing relationship based on respect and companionship.  Although not evident at first, they are very much alike – deep thinkers and feelers.  They learn to really admire each other.  Of course, the physical attraction is there, but the real relationship builds over time.  

I like the fact that the characters are a little more mature.  This is not a New Adult novel.  These characters are well established in their careers and deal with more adult challenges. For example, I had not considered the risk an academic takes when she takes on a “mainstream” project like writing a memoir of a popular icon.  There are some that would try and diminish her standing for writing a “fluff” piece, challenge her professionalism.  But Elizabeth takes this project on because her skill “lay not in making controversial figures likeable, but understandable. Mortal.” This really resonates with me at a deep level.  As a student of history, I challenge the “heroification” of history.  I believe history is about ordinary people making extraordinary choices in extraordinary times. People related can relate to the struggles, not the perfect icon. 

For me, Elizabeth is easy to like.  She is logical, but also a bit of a crusader.  She wants people to be good and to be good to one another.  She is not naïve, but demands that people act like adults. 

Zander is not new to the music business, having started with the original band as a teenager.  Rock and roll is all he knows.  He fights for his new band.  He evolves and matures and satisfying to watch.
The Writing

There are so many wonderful lines in this book.  Karina Bliss writes smart dialogue and witty banter.  When you get the scene of the BBQ and the discussion about manicures and pedicures, you will understand.

There are several detours in the story and usually, I am critical of this if not done well.  This one is done well.  The multiple storylines do not compete but rather create a complex beautiful story. 

Small Critiques

Sometimes when an author is from another part of the country or another (Karina Bliss is from New Zealand), they can make a cultural reference that might not be exactly on point.  There were one or two tiny little things that just caught my attention (and granted, these are arguable).  In regard to Jolly Ranchers – I think when most people think of Jolly Ranchers, they think of the hard candy version.  Jolly Rancher does make fruit chews, but I don’t think they are as popular.  Also, there is a reference to keeping the personal separate from professional.  I thought it is interesting that she called it “careful about separating state from personal.” 

So you can see, if these are the harshest critiques, this is a damn good book.

“I could be safe or I could have you.” Books like Rise are the reason I read romance.

New Zealander Karina Bliss’s debut, Mr Imperfect, won a Romantic Book of the Year award in Australia, the first of eleven books published through Harlequin SuperRomance. Her most recent release, A Prior Engagement, was a Desert Island Keeper at Her next release, Rise, is a single title, self-published contemporary which continues the story of Zander Freedman, who first appeared as a villain in Karina’s bestselling title, What the Librarian Did – a book that made DearAuthor’s Best of the Year list in 2010.Two of Karina’s books have also featured in Sizzling Book Chats at SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.

Find out more at

The author is giving away (1) eBook copy of RISE. 

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