I can understand the rave reviews surrounding this book, BACKSTAGE PASS definitely exceeded my expecations on a number of fronts.
This book tackles a lifestyle more common in erotica than romance, and with a character development and attention to plot that is an achievement for either genre. I have difficulty with heroines with self-esteem problems, and I was nervous when confident, accomplished Myrna started to hear her ex-husband's criticism in her head. The author deftly navigated her characters through that and a number of other pitfalls, however, and never for a moment sacrificed substance for heat. And, oh, is there heat. Cunning takes the Sinners band from titilating fantasy to a humanized family, and somehow manages to do so without ever stripping them of their sex appeal. I, for one, can't wait for my next opportunity to join the Sinners on tour.
Reread 1: Just as thrilling the second time around, Myrna and Brian are red hot heartthrobs. Cunning has blended romance and erotica in a way that few master (Cara McKenna's WILLING VICTIM is the only other example I can think of). The boys of Sinners are crass, gorgeous, and off the charts sexy. As pansexual as they seem, their "no boundaries" rough and tumble relationship is one of the best representations of male friendship I've read.
(3/12/12) - My husband read an article about 50 SHADES OF GREY, and our discussion about erotica and characterization reminded me that BACKSTAGE PASS has both in spades. As difficult as it was for me to read Myrna's self-esteem issues (and I'm not a big fan of the "sex as a sport" message that underlies most of these interactions), I absolutely love how well Cunning draws her characters. I'm a suck for a buddy movie, and this book is as much about the friendships of the band as it is about Myrna and Brian's romance. ROCK HARD didn't work for me as well, mainly because Sed and Jessica have even more of the whole "sex as a sport" thing going on, but there are several moments between the band members that I miss. I may re-read just for the scene in the car when someone punches a cup of pop to get back at his bandmate, I love how these guys interact.