Originally posted on Love in the Margins.
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.
Rock star Zander Freedman has been an outlier–many would say an outcast–for most of his life. 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. Turns out he is scared of something: being known.
I loved What the Librarian Did. I loved the book and its hero enough to name a then GR shelf after him. I loved the heroine’s strength and how the story subtly undermined one of the most irritating romance tropes: miscommunication. Keeping all that in mind, you can surely guess what I thought of the sequel written for Devin’s brother, the unredeemable Zander.
I very nearly hated it.
After spending majority of the book wanting to love it and reluctantly lowering my expectations to hoping to like it, it was a bitter disappointment to watch all that promise to being squandered away.
Zander Freedman, half-Kiwi, was as likeable anti-hero as he could be, until he was forced into a hero’s mould he didn’t quite fit in. His lying and intentions were understandable, even relatable. His actions spoke louder than his unspoken words.
Dr. Elizabeth Winston was a wonderfully self-assured adventurer heroine. Unwilling to take this particular risk, at first, but determined to be her own woman instead of the mousy shell everyone else thought her to be.
Bringing these two together to write a memoir filled with secrets is a brilliant set up. It echoes back to What the Librarian Did’s set up where Devin was determined to find out Rachel’s secrets. Unlike Elizabeth, however, Devin actually figured out what Rachel was hiding and talked with her about it.
That’s where Rise falls apart, in its execution. The book is a collection of cutesy scenes loosely threaded together rather than a story depicting a romance where two people actually learn to know each other and fall in love. Instead of getting to know each other little by little, Zander and Elizabeth stand still emotionally even when their physical relationship progresses.
While the reader has an inkling of what’s going on in Zander’s head, Elizabeth doesn’t until the very end. Zander’s honesty is too little too late and still, her rejection of him feels disingenuous. It’s not true to Elizabeth’s character, but what a typical heroine in these situations is supposed to do.
The revelation of Zander’s secrets is pushed to the end of the book, which leaves little to no time for the actual resolution. While the characters might have to live through the weeks of Zander’s recovery, the reader rushes through those moments in a handful of pages, and it’s all too fast and unbelievable.
Aside from these big mistakes, the little missteps such as a rock star having Skype sex and exposing himself to blackmail were enough to scrape off what little stardust was left of the brilliant premise.
As much as I liked Zander and Elizabeth individually, I didn’t like them together and think they’d have been better of apart.
Final Assessment: Read What the Librarian Did and forget this sequel ever happened. Or if you love the miscommunication trope applied to a middle-aged rock star and a wolf-in-sheep’s clothing academic, go ahead and read it. D
Source: Bought. So you don’t have to.
Series: Various Harlequin romances with Zander as the villain authored by Karina Bliss. Apparently.