Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning

*This book is NOT YA. It contains a ton of extremely descriptive, potentially kinky sexual situations. Proceed with caution! 

I still don't totally know what compelled me--practically dragged my kindle and I kicking and screaming to Amazon--to buy this book. I usually don't read heavily erotic romance, and for me this was definitely five little flames, regardless of the number of hearts I assign at the end of my review.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Backstage Pass was totally smokin' hot in the sex department. I really, really liked this book. BUT if I was going to tell you the book my sex-conscious readers should most avoid that I've reviewed, this is it. You have been fairly and thoroughly warned. If you're not into *extremely* sexy stuff, turn back now!

That said, the book had a lot more then hot sex on offer. An interesting plot, a romance I enjoyed seeing unfold and a great cast of characters allowed Backstage Pass to be an absolute page turner. For my full review, keep reading.

(Summary from GoodReads)
Five stunning guys, one hot woman, and a feverish romance...

For him, life is all music and no play...

When Brian Sinclair, lead songwriter and guitarist of the hottest metal band on the scene, loses his creative spark, it will take nights of downright sinful passion to release his pent-up genius...

She's the one to call the tune...

When sexy psychologist Myrna Evans goes on tour with the Sinners, every boy in the band tries to seduce her. But Brian is the only one she wants to get her hands on...

Then the two lovers' wildly shocking behavior sparks the whole band to new heights of glory... and sin...

So, let me address what *I* was thinking as I clicked buy on Amazon first. "Okay, this sounds like it's gonna be hot. But the real question will be... does it actually have a plot?"

Yes, it does. And while I've certainly read richer and deeper concepts, the plot here was solid and when the romance and characters are factored in I was totally hooked. 

I really liked the structure of the novel. It takes place over a few weeks / months (I read this in December, so I'm not 100% on that.) The point, of course, is that they didn't end up "in love" in the course of a weekend. It takes a LOT for me to buy that in contemporary romance, regardless of any sub-genre, but it was a non-issue here. 

As a total music nut, regardless of the type, I loved getting to "live" with the Sinners and be immersed in their world. The balance between progressing things (on all levels) with Myrna and Brian, when mixed with interaction with the rest of the band, made the book balance out well and remain interesting from start to finish. 

The biggest complaint I had about the plot was in relation to the plotline with Myrna's abusive ex. I found the way that it concluded, and what happened there, kinda silly and predictable. I feel that the abuse aspect of the plot (and her character) could have been taken to much greater depths. But I also realize this was never meant to be an "issues" book, and can understand why the author didn't do this. 

I found Myrna's personality to be endearing on the whole, although I will openly admit she ticked me off with her constant mental abuse of herself. I can understand why: emotional abuse is one of the most horrendous things a person can endure, and despite my complaint about the plotline, Olivia nailed this aspect of Myrna's character brilliantly. I wanted Myrna to get a happy ending, even when it was her making it difficult for this to happen. The constant struggle / need to both hug and shake the heroine made me feel very engaged as a reader and kept me very focused on the story. 

What made me want to keep throwing my kindle... and then preventing me from chucking it? Sweet, charming, sexy Brian Sinclair. Damn I loved this guy! Sure, he's a totally epic guitar genius in a successful band. But he's also very caring and compassionate, a "romantic" according to his bandmates (and this is backed up and proven as the book goes on) and just an all around great guy. I love the fact that it was Brian chasing Myrna romantically, rather then her needing him. So often it's the other way around, and to see the shoe on the other foot was fun. 

As for the rest of the cast--or at least, the rest of the band members? Swoon! I'm so glad these guys are all getting their own books, because I want to read about every one of them! It's taking all my will not to race to Amazon--NOW!--and get the other books that are out and read them immediately. I realize I'm not saying a lot about them here, but that's mostly since I want to focus on them when I get to their reviews. But trust me... once you meet them you'll want to get to know them too. 

The one character that I felt was a little too weak was Jeremy, Myrna's ex. I realize that this type of book probably isn't the place to really flesh him out. She wasn't going for a love triangle, he has a history of being an abusive jerk and so that's what we get from him. I guess this must be a personal thing. I don't mind a dastardly villain or a ruthless antagonist, but I'm generally a little (or a lot--it depends on the book) disappointed if they lack depth. 

Let's get the obvious outta the way first. OMG this book was hot! 

If you are uncomfortable with vividly descriptive sex scenes, M/M/F stuff, bondage, stuff going on in public / semi-public places, etc. this may not be your cup of tea. 

If we've established you're okay with this, we can move to the next question: was it any good? Yes. I thought so. However, reading this was rather an experiment for me. This type of content is NOT my norm. I'm basing my reaction and opinion of its quality on the fact that I felt comfortable reading it and although there was lots of it, I didn't feel bored at any point, which is saying something considering I've been known to skip or skim sex scenes. 

Now onto the even more important question: how was the actual Romance? Because I don't care how well written the sex was (or wasn't)... If the romance is messed up, the book's gonna tank, at least on my blog. 

The romance was a lot of fun, and I loved watching this couple get together. There was a great danger that sex would be the only thing that defined these two, but thanks to Myrna's characterization making this danger be a conflict and Brian's determination to have more then that with her, it didn't go that route. I loved the way that he cared about her, his willingness to be patient with her and their obvious enjoyment of being together--with or without clothes. (If the only time they worked was without, this would really fail!) 

The sexuality of these characters played a huge role in their overall story, but I feel that made sense considering who they were professionally, emotionally, etc. Overall, I'd say the romance between Brian and Myrna was good. It's not my favorite love story ever, but I did have a great time and it left me with a smile and a bounce in my step, which is what I look for from romance. 

I was hoping for a fun and entertaining read when I downloaded Backstage Pass. I wasn't sure how this book was going to turn out for me, personally. I just knew that I was intrigued by the idea and that I enjoyed the sample I downloaded to my kindle. 

I'm really glad that I read this, as I always am when I try a new author or genre and find out that I like it. Backstage Pass was a total page turner that I could not put down. I'll definitely be reading more of Olivia Cunning's books in the future if they are as equally fabulous as this. If you are looking for something hot with great characters and an interesting plot, I would gladly steer you in this direction. 


  1. I like that there is so much more to this than it just being a hot read. I have had this one on my radar for a while now, but have yet to pick it up. I love me some rock stars so I think this story would definitely be one for me. Fabulous review!

  2. Great review! I love that Brian is such a romantic as well. Hope you enjoy Rock Hard!


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