Jan 28 2015 2:00pm

First Look: Karina Bliss’s Rise (January 28, 2015)

Rise by Karina BlissKarina Bliss
Rise (Rock Solid)
Karina Bliss / January 28, 2015 / $9.95 print, $3.99 digital

Even rock stars deserve redemption...

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 and morally ambiguous.
In short, everything she seeks 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 thought self-control was in her DNA; after all, she grew up a minister’s daughter.

She thought wrong.

Rock star 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 breakup of his band to the inevitable damage to 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 is 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 force him to think.

Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out.

And certainly not make him fall in love for the first time in his life.

Turns out he is scared of something: being known.

Rise is a self-published sequel to Karina Bliss’s 2010 Superromance What the Librarian Did, although this is a stand-alone, and you don't need to have read the first book. The hero, Zander Freedman, could be viewed as the villain of What the Librarian Did, but after finishing that one, I wanted to know what happened to Zander, and if he could be redeemed. I wanted him to have his own happy ending. It’s been a long time coming, but it was so worth the wait.

Zander is a real rock bad boy. Tattoos and drugs and booze and girls throwing themselves at him and an ego the size of state of California. The whole nine yards. Except it’s Zander, so it’s more like the whole eleven yards.

Money might not buy love, but it didn’t need to. When you were a rock star, the chicks were free.

Zander is used to getting his own way, no mater what he has to do to get it. After all, he’s been a rock star since he was practically a kid. He’s had plenty of time to get used to having his every whim indulged. But Zander didn’t rise to the top without being committed and hard-working and dependable, at least as far as the band is concerned. He tells Elizabeth, “In our private lives we made all the mistakes— booze, drugs, women, ego— but even through our worst excesses we never canceled a concert or shortchanged our audience on performance.” That commitment to the music is single minded. His sole focus is keeping the band going, whatever it takes. He doesn’t have a life outside the band so he needs the tour to be a success for more than one reason.

But even rock stars grow older. This is the story of what happens when that guy who got wasted every day and charmed his way into bed with a new girl every night finds out that his old way of life isn’t working any more. And no amount of manipulation or emotional blackmail can fix it. He hasn’t just grown older. Zander has grown up. He’s had to give up things to get the revamped band up and going again. He’s writing his memoir to help bolster the tour. And he even know who he wants to help him write it—Elizabeth, a professor and author. To quote the heroine, “Can you believe a rock legend wants a lit chick to help write his memoir?”

This lit chick is totally up for the challenge.

“What’s your dream, Elizabeth? Hell, that’s a mouthful. Liz.”

“Dream? And I prefer Elizabeth.”

“Imagine that money’s no object, Lizzy. I added a syllable because I’m a guy willing to compromise. What would you do?”

The spark of annoyance that he wouldn’t use her name shielded her against his sex appeal. “I’d take six months sabbatical, go to the States and research my next project, Alex.”

Zander’s eyes narrowed, then he smiled an angel’s smile to go with the wings. “And what’s your next project, Eliza? Three syllables, that’s more than meeting you halfway.”

Although Elizabeth is annoyingly susceptible to his charms, she’s not putting up with his attitude. She took a break from her academic life to write this memoir. She needs it to be great as much as he does.

I totally dig the bad boy/good girl trope. It’s part of what I loved about What the Librarian Did and it really works here as well. Zander is a true bad boy of rock and roll. But the whole book is very adult in tone. He might be careless in his personal relations but he is an astute businessman and on top of the band’s finances. Elizabeth relentlessly prods him into behaving like a socially responsible human being. Sometimes without even having to say a thing. Which naturally pisses him off. Still, he can’t help doing the right thing, again and again, until he hardly recognizes himself.

Rounding out the cast, there is also the assistant who is an almost-ex-lover of Zander’s, his bitter ex-girlfriend, and bandmates with their own romantic woes. All of these are familiar tropes to fans of rock star books. But the way Bliss handles them here is surprising and so refreshingly adult. At several points, I was sure that I knew how a particular story line was going to go and then had the rug pulled out from under me and the story took a different, much more satisfying turn. She’s managed to draw on the best things in Superromances, the community of friends and family surrounding the main couple, the deep emotions.

All of this makes for the perfect redemption of a rock star.


Learn more about or order a copy of Rise by Karina Bliss, available January 28:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes



Julia Broadbooks writes contemporary romance. She lives in the wilds of suburban Florida with her ever patient husband and bakes ridiculous amounts of sugary treats for her teens' friends. Find her on Twitter @juliabroadbooks.

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Julia Broadbooks
3. juliabroadbooks
I loved this book so much. After waiting so many years, I am so grateful to have this story in my hands!
4. Janga
I really loved this book. Unlike you, I wasn't sure Bliss could convince me Zander was hero material, so I approached the book with considerable skepticism. Bliss overcame my every reservation. I've added this one to my best of the year list.
Julia Broadbooks
5. juliabroadbooks
What I loved was how she did not by erasing his mistakes. He really owns his past mistakes. And there are many! I loved seeing him redeemed.
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