March 10, 2016

REVIEW & EXCERPT: Rough Rhythm (Made in Jersey #1.5)

Welcome to my stop on the Rough Rhythm by Tessa Bailey tour! Check out my review and a very intriguing excerpt...

Rough Rhythm (Made in Jersey #1.5), by Tessa Bailey
Publish Date:
March 8, 2016
Publisher: Evil Eye Concepts, Inc.
Format: ARC, provided by the author and Inkslinger PR
Genre: adult contemporary/erotic romance
To Buy: Amazon

Rating: 5 STARS

(Synopsis) God help the woman I take home tonight.

Band manager James Brandon never expected to find the elusive satisfaction he’d been chasing, let alone stumble upon it in some sleezy Hollywood meat market. Yet the girl’s quiet pride spoke to him from across the bar, louder than a shout. Troubled, hungry and homeless, she’d placed her trust in him. But after losing the grip on his dark desires that one fateful night, James has spent the last four years atoning for letting her down.

This time I’ll finally crack him.

Rock band drummer Lita Regina has had enough of James’s guilt. She wants the explosive man she met that night in Hollywood. The man who held nothing back and took no prisoners—save Lita. And she’ll stop at nothing to revive him. Even if it means throwing herself into peril at every turn, just to get a reaction from her stoic manager. But when Lita takes her quest one step too far, James disappears from her life, thinking his absence will keep her safe.

Now it’s up to Lita to bring James back…and ignite an inferno of passion in the process.

If you've read Crashed Out (Made in Jersey #1), then you were probably as intrigued as I was at the... unique... relationship between Sarge's band's fiery drummer Lita and manager James. They seemed to want each other and yet hate each other both at the same time. I was DYING to know what the story was between these two. And, wow. What a story it turned out to be. 

James was not a band manager when he met Lita. They both were coming from bad places in their lives and happened to be in the same place at the same time for fate to step in and change everything for them. It seemed like they both needed what the other was willing to offer, so it was a match made in Heaven. At least, for Lita it was. James' recollection of that night is very different, though, and their contrasting opinions on what happened that night have caused a source of angst and hurt and frustration for four long years. 

James is this fascinating dichotomy of a man. There is this wild, untamed side to him that he tries to never unleash due to some serious baggage from his childhood that he never really dealt with. Instead, he's always tried to be exactly the opposite with the people close to him - patient, kind and compassionate. Both sides of him are important, but James doesn't understand that he is made up of many parts, and that one part of him doesn't define ALL of him. 

I loved both sides of James. The sweet and patient side touches my heart. The way he always tries to care for Lita, even when she's purposefully making his life miserable, is admirable, albeit a little frustrating. At times, James seemed more like a doormat to Lita's whims. 

The other side of James - WHOA. This man is intense with a capital 'I'. He likes his sex hard, fast and rough. The rougher, the better. This book is not for the faint of heart. It's very important to remember that everything that happens between Lita and James is 110% consensual. Despite how things between them seem at times, I personally could also feel the love there too. That was the big difference for me. It was never scary, never offensive, and never wrong because I could read between the lines and saw the truth behind their actions. 

I was brought to tears several times while reading Rough Rhythm, and given that this is a novella, that's really saying something. Both Lita's and James' pasts are full of heartbreak. Their present is just as sad, but for a different reason. The depth of emotion conveyed in this story is impossible to miss. I could feel Lita's desperation to get James to really see and hear her. James' guilt was also palpable. Rough Rhythm packs a very powerful punch, and was a fantastic addition to this new series. 

“Oh, goddamn you.” Lita plucked the card from his fingers and hurled it back into the hallway with a muffled scream. “Four years leads to this, huh? You’re just going to dump me in this fucking…”—she waved her hands to encompass the hotel—“…rock star purgatory and bail? If you’re doing this to teach me a lesson, I will never forgive you, James.”

“I’m not.” He cleared the cobwebs from his throat. “That’s not what this is.”

Without looking at Lita, he knew she’d be chewing her bottom lip, leaving teeth marks that would take until nighttime to fade. “I guess we really meant a lot to you if it’s this easy. No notice. Just…peace out, suckers.”

James swallowed the urge to shake her. “I think you know this is the furthest thing from easy.”

“No. I don’t know anything,” she shouted, before several silent beats passed. “Except that you’re a coward. You can’t even look me in the eye.”

He surged forward, pushing her back against the doorjamb. Going to break. Too much. I shouldn’t have come up here. He’d made the mistake of looking down into green eyes swimming with moisture, calling her bluff. “Does the thought of you hurting yourself to get my attention make me a coward? Yes? So be it, Lita.” His fingernails dug into the flesh of his palms. “If something happened to you, I wouldn’t make it to the next sunrise.”

Lita’s body deflated, head falling back. “You can’t say something like that and leave,” she said, lips hardly moving. “It’s cruel.”

“I’m a cruel man.”

“No.” Lita moved into the elegant room, booted feet dragging. A miniature hurricane in a gilded cage. He’d chosen the room himself, another sign of his madness, his need to control her surroundings. Have knowledge of everything she touched. His neck grew hot when she turned, sliding a gaze down his front.

Turning and leaving was imperative at that moment, but he couldn’t resist hearing what she would say next. Delaying the good-bye.

“Remember what you called me the first night we met?” She sat down on the edge of the bed. “Before you leave, call me that one more time.”


Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention. She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

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