I do like a rock star romance, so Sexy Lies and Rock & Roll caught my attention. I enjoyed the narration more than the story – there was a little too much cliché towards the end and the set up was a bit thin but the quality of the audio performances meant that in total the experience counts in the win column.
Emma Peterson is a newly-minted lawyer at Knight & Payne, where her father is a partner. The only remaining name partner is Midge Payne – something of a legend in the legal fraternity. Emma likes to be buried in books and clings to her notion of what is correct. She disapproves of the office’s “wear what you want” policy because a lawyer should look a certain way. She disapproves of the casual familiarity of the office, believing her secretary should address her as “Miss Peterson” rather than by her first name. She doesn’t want to work at Knight & Payne but it was the only job offered to her so that’s where she is. She’d rather do… some kind of legal work which would involve burying herself in legal research and libraries. This confused me a bit because most lawyers have clients so there is a certain amount of working with people necessary even if one specialises in contracts but whatever.
For reasons which make no sense, Emma is sent to the local jail where indy rock star (and Midge’s nephew) Evan Scott has been taken for questioning over the death of a former bandmate. Evan is not guilty of course; the whole thing is merely the method of getting Emma and Evan into the same room and for him to annoy her – whereby she gets angry and he then realises she has heat and passion under her buttoned-up exterior. Emma has no experience in criminal law. And Midge loves her nephew like a son. Apparently matchmaking is the reason it’s okay to potentially mess around with someone’s freedom? I rolled my eyes but moved on.
Evan is also being sued by the remaining former bandmates over alleged copyright issues and is considering three separate recording contracts and deciding whether to remain indy or not. A few weeks after they first meet, Evan asks Emma to be his lawyer and publicist – she will still be paid by Knight and Payne but he will be her only client (Emma has no experience in publicity or copyright or entertainment law either but hey, details!). What’s not immediately clear is that Evan is about to go on a three-month tour of the US and Emma, to do her job (?) will have to accompany him. She negotiates this down to 30 days but because he dangles the carrot of Midge getting Emma her dream job with a firm of her choice, she agrees.
Emma brings her Newfoundland puppy, Sirius, on tour with her but leaves her Maine Coon cat at home with her dad because Evan is highly allergic. (Exactly how this was going to be managed once they got their HEA was never specified. Did the cat stay with Emma’s dad? Is the cat now homeless???)
Evan does need a lawyer (although not a full-time, on-site lawyer) but the main reason he wants Emma to go on tour with him is because he has the hots for her and wants to see where things go. To his credit he doesn’t pressure her for sex and when they do commence a physical relationship he makes it clear that it is not a requirement of her job. He even refuses to have sex with her when she’s drunk because he wants to make sure she is fully consenting to what they do. So it’s not as bad as it sounds.
In fact, for the most part*, Evan is actually a really nice guy. He’s not a very stereotypical rock star at all – in fact he seemed more like a Mumford than a Steven Tyler to me.
*When we first meet Evan he is waking up after a party with a random redhead in his bed. He doesn’t know her name and doesn’t care to. He pretty much kicks her out as soon as he wakes up. This is stereotypical rock star behaviour I suppose and is certainly not indicative of a “nice guy” but thereafter Evan doesn’t act that way again.
Evan’s friend and manager, Tyler, is pushing Evan to take one of the recording contracts. Evan doesn’t want to be pushed and doesn’t care that much for money – he’s more interested in his artistic independence. When Evan wants Emma to get involved in reviewing the contracts and asks for her opinion, Tyler is upset and acts like a dick.
Emma is shy and uptight and not very confident. So being in a relationship with a hot sexy rock star is way out of her comfort zone.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess what the conflict was going to be. I don’t mind necessarily that that was the direction the story took but the black moment felt very cliché. I’d have liked to have seen it subverted a bit.
The charm of the story is in the interaction between Evan and Emma, particularly when they’re on tour together and sharing one bus. And that charm is heightened by some very good narration. Both Maxine Mitchell and Joe Arden gave great performances, with Mr. Arden taking the sections from Evan’s POV and Ms. Mitchell the sections from Emma’s.
Ms. Mitchell impressed me in particular with her ability to portray three different types of growly/husky male character voice – Evan, Tyler and Emma’s dad, Carey, all had a bit of gravel but sounded distinctly different. I also liked the character of Red, the tour-bus driver – he was differentiated by his accent which had a non-stereotypical Southern twang to it. Emma herself was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and she had some sugar in her tones too.
Mr. Arden gave depth to Evan’s character by his performance and, by his expression, indicated that Evan wasn’t actually a dick even though sometimes his words alone could indicate he might be. It’s all in the delivery. Mr. Arden also differentiated the cast members well. I thought he did a creditable job of the female characters. I was particularly impressed by his depiction of the intimate scenes.
Sexy Lies and Rock & Roll is a fun-if-you-don’t-think-about-it-too-much audiobook, enhanced by some great narration. Perhaps a good beach listen?
Book Content: B-
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: Fighting
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Big Dog Books LLC
Sexy Lies and Rock and Roll was provided to AudioGals for a review.