Title: Softer Than Steel by Jessica Topper
Love & Steel Series Book Two
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 366 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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…
Softer Than Steel is the second installment in Jessica Topper’s fabulous rocker series, Love & Steel. This leisurely paced romance between guitarist Rick “Riff Rotten” Rottenberg and yoga instructor Sidra Sullivan is quite captivating and delectably sensual. Although characters from the previous novel in the series make guest appearances, it can be read as a standalone but I HIGHLY recommend the other books in the series as well.
Rick is thrilled to be reunited with his former band mates but now their latest tour is over and they are back in the recording studio, he is having difficulty focusing on their next album. With a bad case of writer’s block, mounting anxiety and a raging case of insomnia, he is getting pretty desperate for some relief from his stress. After yet another panic attack, Rick takes a friend’s advice to give yoga a chance and he is delighted when he discovers his new instructor is the woman he unsuccessfully tried to charm when they met by chance a few days earlier. Sidra shares his attraction, but she does not mix business with pleasure and after having her heart crushed by her musician ex-boyfriend, she is really not in any hurry to become involved in another relationship.
Now in his mid forties, Rick’s life is full of changes. His three sons are now grown and on their own and he is having a little trouble coping with his empty nest. Although it has been fourteen years since her death, he is still deeply mourning the loss of this beloved wife, Simone. He is also still wracked with guilt and regrets from the mistakes he made in the years leading up to her death. Reuniting with his band mates is a dream come true, and while Rick is ecstatic to be back in the business, there is unexpected tension between the band members as they try to strike a balance between work and their personal lives.
Sidra is a warm, caring and compassionate woman who is very devoted to her family. She is slowly building her yoga business and she also helps out in her cousin’s second hand record shop. Her relationship with her ex-boyfriend ended when she found out he was cheating on her and she has no intention of dating another musician. Sidra does not trust easily and this becomes a major problem when she jumps to conclusions about Rick throughout the course of their romance.
The relationship between Rick and Sidra is fairly slow growing and Rick displays a surprising amount of patience as he tries to win Sidra over. They each carry significant baggage from their respective pasts and these unresolved issues lead to many of the problems between them. Both of them find it difficult to open up and communication is one of the couple’s biggest issues. Sidra’s mistrust leads her to jump to conclusions when she misconstrues Rick’s involvement in a situation concerning her family and she is not easily persuaded to give him a second chance.
Softer Than Steel is a wonderful addition to Jessica Topper’s Love & Steel series. The characters are vibrantly developed with realistic flaws and issues to overcome. The romance between Rick and Sidra builds at a unhurried pace and it is quite enjoyable watching Rick patiently work his way through Sidra’s somewhat formidable defenses. Although the conflict between them is rather easy to predict, their separation provides both characters with an unexpected opportunity to make some much needed changes in their lives. All in all, it is another highly entertaining novel that old and new fans are going to love.