Finally, Zander’s story–totally worth the wait!
“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.
Rise – a redemption story of a rock star going straight(er) through the love of a good(ish) woman.
I first encountered Zander Freedman in Bring Him Home and then again in A Prior Engagement (which you don’t have to have read to enjoy this one–it’s fine as a standalone), where he wasn’t the most appealing of characters, but there was definitely something about him. He’s apparently a full-on villain in What the Librarian Did , which has leapfrogged up my TBR list now–it’ll help me from wanting to strangle him with his guitar strap, having the insight into his true character that we finally get inRise. (And Karina’s notes at the end of the book promise that he–and Elizabeth–will be back in future books in the series–bonus!)
I loved this book! Elizabeth and Zander are fantastic characters, and you can’t help but root for them both from page one even when what they each want doesn’t appear to be in the same stratosphere. Their encounters right from the beginning are witty, funny, and not without a healthy dose of steam. Here’s one of their first altercations, when Zander is trying to convince Elizabeth to take on his biography project, after he’s already fired biographers numbers one and two:
“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.”
Yeah, I could tell from this conversation that it was going to be one heck of a ride. The rest of the book did not disappoint.
Ms. Bliss did a great job of making Zander into a sympathetic character–as always, he’s not apologetic for what he’s done in the past, though at least now he recognizes what he did wrong and is sorry for it, there’s no excuses made. He tries to keep the worst of it from Elizabeth (and for the most part, from us), believing it will change how she sees him, but of course it doesn’t. It doesn’t hurt that the thing he is most ashamed of is the one that is easiest for everyone but him to forgive. We finally see what makes the infamous Zander Freedman tick, and it makes him an amazing hero.
Elizabeth thought she was content with her life–teaching and writing historical biographies, enjoying a close relationship with her family and elderly neighbor–but as we soon see through Zander’s eyes, her family, at least, neither truly understands her nor truly appreciates her. (Not that they’re exactly willful in this–Elizabeth is used to her pigeonholed role in the family. She herself isn’t even aware of the disparity for most of the book.) She resists Zander for as long as she can, turned on and frustrated by him in equal measure (and usually both at the same time). By the time they start on their “secret” and “temporary” relationship, I was practically screaming at them to just tell the other one how they were feeling, for Pete’s sake!
But of course they don’t for pages and pages and pages, because that’s not their style–and then we wouldn’t have such a satisfying story.
And oh, it is a satisfying story. I was dying to get to their HEA, but at the same time didn’t want the book to end. Knowing I’ll see them both again–and looking forward to reading about Zander’s more ruthless and selfish past in his brother Devon’s book–was a definite consolation when I finally got to the end.
Write fast, Ms. Bliss! 🙂
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
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 likesbooks.com. Her next release, Rise, is a single title, self-published contemporary which continues the story of Zander Freedman, who first appeared as a villain inKarina’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 www.karinabliss.com