The Essential Jagged Ivory on tour!

I was sent copies of the Jagged Ivory series by Lashell Collins for review, so I’m going to put the series all together in one blog post. I’ve recently reviewed another of Lashell’s series books (See here: https://alylonna.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/book-blitz-where-theres-smoke-by-lashell-collins/ ) and I’m glad I got the chance to read these. They’re completely different from her other series, although equally enjoyable.

The box set of the entire series is available at £0.77 for a limited time, here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Essential-Jagged-Ivory-Boxed-Set-ebook/dp/B00M7JXQ0S/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1407103493&sr=8-2&keywords=lashell+collins

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The first in the series is Jagged Hearts, which I gave 4* of 5* stars. It’s the story of Noah Ivory, lead guitarist for the rock band Jagged Ivory, and the love of his life, Mercy Hollande, daughter of the band’s manager, Mike. They meet when she’s at college and have this totally wild night that drop kicks them both out of the park. He reacts in the worst possible way and they go their separate ways. Cue their collision again, several years later.

As rock star stories go, it fits the standard format – lots of partying, booze, drugs and sex. There are also the standard miscommunication tropes and addiction issues. I did like the fact that the author had clearly done her research with the technical aspects of the tour – the required crew, the instruments and the way things are set up. The detail shows.

What sets this book apart is the characters. Mercy is a strong willed girl who has a lot of internal conflicts to deal with – she’s torn in her relationship with her father because of the fallout from his divorce from her mum. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life – she’s under pressure from various people to choose a career and study accordingly, but she doesn’t know where to go with it. She’s mostly strong willed and sassy, but Noah absolutely slays her, every time, and she doesn’t know how to deal with him at all. Noah is kind of an odd character for me. While I liked him, I also wanted to tell him to grow a pair and stop being a wuss already. The interplay between he and Otis was good though – having them as brothers was an interesting depth to the backstory of the characters and it was something I could relate to, having three siblings.

The story is very slow to start and a lot of it is world building and technical information. It looks like this was always intended to be a series so I read it in that way and stuck with it. It’s clear that various subplots and character threads that don’t really go anywhere in this book are being set up for later books in the series, so I haven’t deducted any marks from the story for that. I’m looking forward to a progression.

I felt the sex scenes were a little lacking, but in all honesty it’s a tough field in rock star romance/erotica – you just have to look at the likes of Olivia Cunning. There were a couple of moments of brilliance too – the way Noah explains how it feels to write music is really beautiful and I read that passage back a few times.

If you’re into rockstar romances, I’d definitely recommend this book. It’s easy and absorbing reading!

*** *** *** *** *** *** ***

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The second book in the series is Jagged Dreams and I have to be honest and say that I was really disappointed by this book. I only give it 2* of 5*. It’s definitely the weakest book in the series, which is a shame because Cory was my favourite character from the first book. He was so cute.

This book follows Cory and Donna’s relationship. He’s the rocker, she’s America’s television sweetheart, about to embark on filming her first hollywood blockbuster. As the story progresses, you discover that for two people who talk all the time, they don’t actually know how to communicate. The story is intended to be an exploration of how the smallest untruths can destroy even the strongest relationships.

I think part of the reason I struggled with it is that the author breaks the massive conflict at the beginning of the book so you know exactly where it’s going. There’s no escalation of the crisis, no shock and emotional impact when it finally does happen quite late on in the book. She also tells you the little twist about Donna’s secret in that prologue too. It takes all of the mystery out of the book, quite neatly bisecting both character arcs and any emotion that might have built up. The last couple of chapters where it all gets tidied up doesn’t really compensate.

Another thing I struggled with was Cory as a character. I just didn’t get his mentality – however much he denied it, he was basically insisting that his dreams were more important than Donna’s, without any regard for the fact that her career is taking off and that her life is changing. I struggled to be sympathetic to his way of thinking and then I got irritated with Donna for feeling like she had to apologise for having the temerity to change her mind according to her circumstances.

The final nail in the coffin for this book as far as I was concerned is that it’s very repetitive. It’s the same argument going round and round in circles for the majority of the book. When they’ve had the same conversation for the fourth or fifth time, it does get a bit boring.

All in all, book 2 was disappointing.

*** *** *** *** *** *** ***

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The third book in the series was Jagged Addiction and this was a welcome return to the standard of the first book, although it doesn’t appear to be as well edited as the first two for some reason. We’re back to every sentence having 5 ‘but’s in it. That said, I give it a solid and much enjoyed 4* out of 5*.

This is Benji’s story. After almost dying in the first book, he’s spent an extended stint in rehab and is emerging into the world again. It’s a time of turmoil for the band – Cory is having his issues with Donna and Noah is struggling with his own addictions. They’re about to embark on the next leg of their world tour and somehow Benji has to try and balance it all with staying sober.

This was my favourite book so far because Benji as a character is great and I loved Fae too. I liked that they’re both a little kooky and off the wall, that they don’t feel any requirement to conform to convention. They do what they want and are comfortable doing it together. I liked that Fae was an unapologetic woman in a man’s world. The author did a really great job of portraying Benji struggling with his demons. There are times when he’s so tempted to break that you can almost feel it and taste it coming off the page. He’s not perfect by a long shot and he makes stupid and hurtful decisions because he thinks he’s doing the right thing when actually he’s just learning the hard lesson that there are some things you just have to let go. It also broke away from the typical addiction issues in romance books where everyone walks on eggshells around the characters. The author has an old friend of Benji’s offer him heroin to his face, blatantly and bluntly. As a reader, you feel a righteous anger that anyone could be so brutally awful and it was great that she put that in there.

The story really is about letting go. Fae has had her own struggles in the past with losing her mother to drugs and she needs to let go of her fears to be with an addict.

These were definitely the characters I empathised with most out of the books I’ve read so far (I’m halfway through 4 as I write this).

*** *** *** ***

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Book 4 is Jagged Secrets and I gave this one a 3* of 5*. It was initially very promising and Buzzy is the quietest member of the band. He’s not as loud or confident as Otis or Noah and he’s not as messed up as Benji, so up until now he’s been overshadowed a lot. With this book you finally get to see his back story and it’s a good one.

The beginning is the set up where he’s almost ambushed back stage by the girl who broke his heart. You learn that he never really got over her and you’re almost as confused as he is by her sudden decision to turn up. It totally messes with Buzzy’s head and he decides to go and find answers as to why she broke his heart all those years ago.

In all honesty, I thought the emotions behind the initial break up were valid. You got a real sense of the love these two felt for each other and why Janie felt it was necessary to push him away. You can totally empathise with why she did it, and given where he is now, it was the right decision. Breaking his heart forced him to leave and find the band and now he’s coming home as a rock god. Janie as a character was sweet and likeable, as was Buzzy.

Where this story fell down is what happens when Buzzy comes back. I can’t tell you what the big secret is without totally ruining the story, but suffice to say that I thought he was way too accepting of it and of the fact that Janie kept the secret. I’d have been absolutely raging and wouldn’t have known what the hell to do. At the very least I’d have freaked out and left the house, but Buzzy doesn’t do any of that. He’s just like “hey, whatever” and it was a little jarring.

On the whole it was a good addition to the series though and I really did like Janie and Buzzy’s characters.

*** *** *** ***

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So onto the final book! Jagged Surrender is the fifth and final book of the whole series and is, hands down, my favourite of them all. This is the story of Otis, the band’s lead singer, and Brooke.

Their chance meeting is absolutely brilliant. She’s having a really bad day and then crashes into him at a junction when she runs a red light because she’s exhausted and in a rush. To add insult to injury, she’s written off his outrageously expensive car and she’s driving without insurance because she couldn’t afford it. It’s something close to love at first sight except it comes out as everything else. He’s rude and shouty until he gets a good look at her and she’s distraught and has absolutely no idea who he is. Understandably, when he turns on the charm and offers to get her out of trouble if she’ll go for dinner with him, she thinks he’s your average rich, entitled and arrogant prick.

The way their relationship develops is really well done. She’s keeping secrets, he’s emotionally closed off and they both have a serious amount of sass going on. When it comes crashing down and he finds out what she really is (at the most inopportune of moments, it has to be said!), it’s not easy to pull it back from the brink. What makes it even worse is that the rest of the band have taken issue with his inability to maintain a meaningful relationship and, in classic American teen coming of age movie style, made a bet with him that he can’t make a go of it.

Add to that some serious emotional damage going on in Otis’ history and you finally end up with another classic story of redemption, with the standard miscommunications and emotionally fraught moments.

As mentioned before, this was my favourite of the series, mostly because I really liked Brooke’s character. It was a solid end to the series and I’d recommend downloading it, especially while it’s at the amazing rock bottom price!

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