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Zander Freedman; a has-been rock icon looking to revive his career. 

Elizabeth Winston; an acclaimed historical biographer seeking a professional challenge.

On paper, Zander and Elizabeth seem two very different people, but when Elizabeth agrees to undertake the monumental task of penning the Rage front man’s memoir, she uncovers a man far more complex than she could have ever imagined. 

Presented with a once-in-a-career opportunity, Elizabeth becomes engulfed in a world of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll which, in Zander terms, translates roughly into green tea, sore throats and nicotine patches. 

Life on the road with a rock star and his entourage isn’t quiet – ex-girlfriends, resentful ex-band mates, quarreling spouses and paparazzi to name but a few. Elizabeth sees it all yet still finds herself being pulled further in. 

Both workaholics, can Zander and Elizabeth deny their feelings for both the sake of themselves and their careers? 

Rise is a book I read based on the recommendation of author, Nalini Singh. It’s a rock star romance, which might sound pretty cheesy but c’mon, let’s be realistic. Who doesn’t love a good rock star romance? Who didn’t once look at posters of their favorite singers and think “One day…”. Who still does? *tentatively raises hand*

I’ve read a couple of rock star romances in the past and I based my initial assumptions upon my experiences with those books. I was wholeheartedly expecting Zander Freedman to be a bit of a jerk. I expected him to be every inch the diva the fictional media in Rise make him out to be.

But he isn’t. Far from it. He wears a bad boy facade but in reality, he’s a tender-hearted, kind man who wants to give up and coming musicians a head start in their careers. He cares deeply for his staff and lives to please his fans, even at the risk of his own health. He’s not perfect, he makes mistakes, but who doesn’t? Zander presents us with the harsh realities of fame. So often we perceive our idols as these immortal, untouchable people and Rise shows us the very human side of it all.

Elizabeth is a unlike any female character I’ve ever come across. 35, unmarried and blessed with the ability to not go weak at the knees every time a hot guy so much as blinks in her direction, Elizabeth is an intelligent, hard-working and career focused individual. The oldest of her siblings, she’s underappreciated and forever the victim of blind date set ups and this is something that really riled me up on her behalf. No one – not even her colleagues – truly understands her. They either poke fun at her for being single or mock her for working with Zander. It’s not until she meets Zander that she finally feels ‘herself’; intelligent, appreciated, needed, confident and beautiful.

Rise was a slow burner, but I feel slow burning novels are sorely underappreciated. There’s just something about the anticipation of waiting for someone to make a move, isn’t there? Slow burning novels also add a dash of realism. Rise isn’t a oh-god-you-look-so-divine-marry-me-right-now job. It’s very organic in the way it develops. You don’t witness Zander and Elizabeth’s first kiss and think “Well, fuck. I didn’t see that one coming!”. They take time to acquaint themselves with one another and Elizabeth is given the chance to bond with Zander’s entourage independently of him. So often in romance – conventional and paranormal alike – a woman becomes isolated from those around her for the sake of a man, or faces hostility from his friends and family.

I really enjoyed how everybody got a chance to be the narrator, from the ex fallen on hard times to the seemingly haughty PA. Rise isn’t just Zander and Elizabeth’s story. It’s everyone’s story and makes for an enticing prelude to the books following it.

Rating: 4/5

Song: Bon Jovi’s Born to be my baby 

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This book is available to buy on Amazon in both e-reader and paperback format.

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