Title: Softer Than Steel
Author: Jessica Topper
Series: Love & Steel
Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks
From the author of Deeper than Dreams and the Much “I Do” About Nothing novels, a story that proves that you have to find yourself before you can find love…
As rock star “Riff Rotten”, Rick Rottenberg has enjoyed all the perks that fame can offer, especially now that he’s reunited with his former band mate, Adrian “Digger” Graves. But despite his success, Rick is a mess. Still reeling from the death of his wife years ago and terrified his demons will end his career, he agrees to seek help for his anxiety.
Burned by a musician in the past, Sidra Sullivan has closed her heart to love. So when Rick walks into her yoga studio, she wants nothing to do with him–until the bad boy shows an unexpected soft side.
As Sidra and Rick work through their painful pasts, they realize just how strongly opposites can attract. But when a crisis threatens the delicate balance they’ve forged, they’ll discover if their love is strong enough to weather another storm or just too broken to survive…
I won’t go and summarize what this book is about since the blurb is pretty straightforward. Anyway, I’m kind of in the middle with this book. Meaning, I liked it well enough, enjoyed some parts of it, but there’s this whole ball of issues that I just couldn’t ignore.
I loved the writing. Jessica Topper is a talented wordmaster. Period. Her voice is unique and her characters are as flawed as they come, which I really, really liked. I loved how Sidra’s Indirish background, her life as a yoga instructor and Rick’s music were interwoven into the narrative. It added layers to Softer Than Steel that I liked. Unfortunately, it lacked the most important layer of all: the romance.
Rick and Sidra are so caught up with their own issues — Sidra with her alcoholic father, her yoga business, her ex, her heartbreak and Rick with his anxiety attacks, his band, his relationship with Adrian and his dead wife — that I never felt any connection to them as a couple. Don’t get me wrong. Their individual journeys are heartbreaking and I liked reading about it, but…where’s the romance? This book really felt short in that area, which affected the pacing, too. Rick and Sidra barely spent time with each other during the first half of the book. And even after they got together, they’re still miles apart in terms of the romance.
And that was a big thing for me because once I couldn’t feel something for the main couple, it pretty much affects my overall feeling about the book. There were opportunities that could have made a huge impact to the story like Sidra had a cancer scare and considering Rick’s wife died of cancer, it should have been an emotional highlight for the book. Unfortunately, Sidra herself refused help from Rick and that scare was never mentioned again. It was disappointing because it could’ve given their relationship an emotional jolt. But no dice.
Still, Jessica Topper’s writing shined through, which was strong enough for me to give this one a B- rating.