Charlotte “Charlie” Baird is a shy, scared little mouse of a woman, and she knows it. A horrific encounter while she was still in college left her jumpy around men in general, and downright terrified around men like Gabriel Bishop. Unfortunately, she’s just been promoted…to Gabriel Bishop’s personal assistant.
Gabriel Bishop was known for his fierceness and drive on the rugby pitch, and he’s known for it now in the boardroom. Brought on to save the sinking ship that is Charlie’s employer, he takes one look at her and decides he’s going to have her as his PA. And a few more of those looks, long, slow, intense looks that scare the bejeezus out of Charlie, make Gabriel want Charlie as more than his assistant.
He just plain wants her.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Nalini Singh’s writing is how she creates her secondary characters. She gives them just enough detail and depth to intrigue and make the reader want more, want to hear their story, and then she makes us wait for it so we devour the book in question like rabid coyotes. Not so with Rock Hard, and I am so very, very glad for that.
We met Charlie in Rock Addiction, and you knew there was something up between Charlie and Gabriel. A T-Rex and a mouse squaring off? Yes please! *raises both hands* The first part of the overlaps with Rock Addiction. Remember Gabriel buying the bracelet in Addiction and Charlie complaining to Molly about it? That’s in here. Plus the story behind all those hints Molly dropped about Charlie’s scars.
Charlie’s a lot stronger than she thinks. Her backbone snaps into place when she needs it the most, and the more time she spends with Gabriel, the more it comes out. She experiences some truly fantastic growth in this story, and never once did I feel like she played the helpless victim. I liked seeing her through Gabriel’s eyes. She’s sweet and smart, spectacularly grumpy when she’s pushed too hard, and I found myself grinning right along with Gabriel as she stood up to him.
Let’s just get this out of the way – Gabriel is Hot. With a capital H. Dare I say I like him more than the members of Schoolboy Choir? Will people hit me for that? He’s got this brutal ruthlessness to him that’s magnetic, yet when Charlie needs him to, he tones it down. He coaxes out Charlie’s snarky side, and their banter is awesome. I love how he’s surprised when she starts taking care of him – making sure he eats, badgering him into taking time off. I saw a YouTube video recently of the New Zealand rugby team performing the haka (a traditional Maori dance) in the rain. Waaaaay too easy to picture Gabriel doing that.
There’s a sweetness to this story that I felt was missing from Rock Addiction, and I one more chaptered the hell out of this book. I wanted the Charlie-mouse to best the T-Rex, not because he’d let her (although after a while, it’s clear that Gabriel would do anything for Charlie) but because she could. Because of him, she regained her confidence, and I loved Gabriel for that.
Rock Hard was a fabulous addition to the Rock Kiss series, and I seriously hope Singh’s planning on a spin-off with Gabriel’s rugby playing brothers. Until then, I’m eagerly awaiting the next Rock Kiss book.
Copy of Rock Hard provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.