𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝙿𝚕𝚊𝚢 𝚜𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜 𝚋𝚢 𝙽𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚒 𝚂𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚑
Hi friends! How are you? What are you reading?
This month I have read so many romance books – it’s currently my number one genre on Storygraph for this month! I have been wanting easy and lighthearted stories with a happily ever after and banter with emotional development and all the kisses.
That’s when I turned to the 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝙿𝚕𝚊𝚢 𝚜𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜 𝚋𝚢 𝙽𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚒 𝚂𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚑. 𝑵𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒊 𝑺𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒉 has never steered me wrong. Literally every book that I have read from her has been MINIMUM a 4 star star read. Her Guildhunter series and the Psy-Changeling/Psy-Changeling Trinity series have been a staple in my reading diet since I was in highschool. I’ve grown up reading 𝑵𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒊 𝑺𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒉 basically, and I adore her. There are a select few authors I am extremely biased towards, and that is 𝑵𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒊 𝑺𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒉. I just wanted to put that out there! Her books mean the world to me.
But I mostly read her fantasy/paranormal romance, and in highschool I remember reading a few of her standalone contemporary romance novels, but I never really picked up her Rock Kiss series. Rock Kiss is her first (?) romance series centering a rock band (I think) and the women they each fall in love with. I was never really interested in picking up this series because I don’t really like reading about musicians. But I just might now that I have finished Hard Play.
The 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝙿𝚕𝚊𝚢 𝚜𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜 is a spin off from the Rock Kiss series. Basically, in Rock Hard (book two of the Rock Kiss series), Charlotte Baird becomes entangled with Gabriel Bishop. The 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝙿𝚕𝚊𝚢 𝚜𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜 focuses on Gabriel’s brothers, Sailor, Jake and Danny and the awesome women that they all come to fall in love with. The technical order of this series:
1. 𝑪𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒉 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅
2. 𝑹𝒆𝒃𝒆𝒍 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅
3.𝑹𝒐𝒄𝒌 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅 (Book 2 of Rock Kiss series)
4. 𝑳𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅
5. 𝑲𝒊𝒔𝒔 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅
I stupidly thought Rock Hard was the first book in the 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝙿𝚕𝚊𝚢 𝚜𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜 so I read it a month ago, I think, but then I realised that it was actually a part of the Rock Kiss series…whoops.
But overall, I really enjoyed the 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝙿𝚕𝚊𝚢 𝚜𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜 , some books more than others (very slightly) so I do recommend if you want a lighthearted and lovely romance series to binge read on a weekend!
𝑪𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒉 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅 focuses on Sailor and Isalind. I think this couple is the most wholesome in the entire series. Isalind Rain is an English teacher and aspiring poet, with a love for the written word that sparkles off the page; but she is also incredibly wealthy. Like, Rich with a capital R. Her mother is the CEO of a crafting cooperation/business that is hugely successful. Isa’s mum, Jacqueline, wants Isa to be the heir of the business. But Isa just wants to write.
Sailor Bishop, on the other hand, is a few years younger than Isa, and has his own landscaping business. He has big dreams about his business, but he’s just scraping by. Though his family would support him financially in a heartbeat, he just wants to succeed on his own. As the only brother who didn’t go into Rugby like his other brothers, he wants to land on his own two feet and be someone.
Then Isa and Sailor catapult into each other’s lives.
And that’s literally how it is. It was glorious. They both got underneath each other’s skins so intensely. I really enjoyed this novel. Both Sailor and Isa have their own emotional baggage. At each stage of their relationship, if one would have an issue, they would actually talk about it. The emotional development of these two characters, together and separately, was fantastic. There was no third act conflict, just healthy communication, emotional vulnerability and growth.
There is explicit sex, so if that’s not your thing, maybe this series isn’t for you! Although sexual attraction factors heavily in this book (and in the series as a whole), it is not so much the focus. The focus is watching these two characters learn about the other and fall in love. There are time skips, so this story doesn’t happen in two weeks, it occurs across a span of time. Honestly, it was just a cozy and wonderful read!
I think the reason why I love Nalini Singh so much is her ability to write the different kinds of love. Sexual and romantic love, obviously a master at; but sibling and family love, the deep love of friendships? An artist.
This talent shines through in 𝑹𝒆𝒃𝒆𝒍 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅. 𝑹𝒆𝒃𝒆𝒍 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅 concentrates on Nayna, Isalind’s best friend and Raj, a friend of Jake Esera (who is the brother of Gabriel and Sailor Bishop, just with a different last name!). Nayna feels a little bit suffocated by her loving and endearing family, who is trying to arrange Nayna’s marriage to a good Indian man. Nayna goes along with it because she feels like she has to to make her family proud. As a result of her eldest sister’s lack of thinking, Nayna is subject to the high expectations and rules to ensure that she doesn’t end up like her oldest sister.
Nayna wants to scream.
She meets Raj at a birthday party of mutual friends, and she decides that it’s time to be wild just once so she gives in to Raj. But Raj is actually looking for an emotional connection and something more than just a one night stand. In a hilarious turn of events, Nayna runs away. BUT THERE STORY DOESN’T END THERE.
Essentially, this is sort-of a fake dating situation to calm both Raj’s and Nayna’s families with the marriage thing, but instead, Raj and Nayna fall hopelessly in love. WE EVEN HAVE RAJ READING PRIDE AND PREJUDICE BECAUSE NAYNA LOVES IT and then his work friends start reading Jane Austen. MY HEART HURT.
Not only do we see the growing feelings develop between Nayna and Raj, but we also explore family and cultural tradition, the importance of community but also how the community can affect someone who isn’t quite fitting the norm. This story was precious. But I wish so desperately that Nayna’s sister Maddie got served a little bit of justice in terms of how her actions impacts Nayna. But at the forefront of the storyline was forgiveness and love, so I understand why it wouldn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things.
When looking at this series as a whole, 𝑹𝒐𝒄𝒌 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅 is the weakest. It also felt like the shortest even though I don’t necessarily think that’s actually accurate. Focusing on Charlotte Baird and Gabriel Bishop, this is a sort-of workplace romance between an executive assistant and the CEO, aka her boss. It’s super cute and touches on trauma and survival of domestic abuse, but was otherwise just average.
This is the book that I remember the least. It just didn’t hit at the same level as the other books in this series did.
Nothing else to really say, really!
Average plot, average characters, fine romance.
Jake Esera and Juliette Nelisi were adorable. Truly.
These two had the most fire between them, every moment so extremely sexually charged. They were both fooling themselves from the start and I adored it.
As I’ve said before, 𝑵𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒊 𝑺𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒉 is a master in forging relationships and friendships; the emotional connections between characters and their backstories are some of the best in the genre. Jake and Juliette knew each other from highschool, in fact, Jules was the best friend of Callie, Jake’s high school sweetheart and mother to his now 6 year-old daughter. Jake and Jules never really got along but they bonded over the fact that they both loved Callie. Fast-forward six years, Jake and Julies see each other again for the first time since highschool…and they’re attracted to each other?
Their confusion and assurance that their relationship doesn’t tarnish the memory of Callie. They both are so adorable and willing to listen to each other and ensure the other’s comfort that it is just so beautiful to read. Yes, there’s sex but there’s also emotional development whilst also tracking the way each of them start to slowly fall in love with each other.
Though the sex between them happens quite quickly, in a bid to get eachother ‘out of their systems’ because that totally works; it’s their relationship outside of the bedroom that is wonderful to read. Juliette is a kickass character, a career woman who has ambitions, who works extremely hard to get the respect she deserves, and Jules herself was an awesome character to read as the growth that she goes through as well, in understanding how her past has effected her, both in her relationship to herself and to others, as well as her past relationship with her ex-husband, was wonderful.
The character development and the emotional growth of both these characters?! Fantastic.
My favourite book in the 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝙿𝚕𝚊𝚢 𝚜𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜, 𝑲𝒊𝒔𝒔 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅 takes place around a few years in the future and concentrates on Catie and Danny. We were introduced to Catie in Cherish Hard, the younger half-sister of Isalind with the negligent father, Clive. She’s also on her way to become a Paraolympic champion. Danny is the youngest of the Bishop-Esera brothers and also a rugby superstar; at 19 years old he became one of the youngest to be placed on the New Zealand national team. So, he’s a big deal. But he’s also a huge marshmellow.
Ever since Catie was introduced to the Bishop-Esera family, her and Danny have been ‘enemies’. The kind of enemies that are all banter but would do anything for the other because their families are so closely tied. So I guess on the surface, you could consider this an ‘enemies to lovers’ romance, but it’s so much deeper than that.
After an incident at a bar when Catie realises something is wrong with Danny, the aftermath of her and Danny leaving the club together catapults them into having to…fake date. ONE OF MY FAVOURITE TROPES. Nalini Singh literally said, ‘yes’ to every trope that I love with this book.
Only one bed? Yes
Need to fake date to preserve our reputations? Yes.
We’re enemies but also kind of friends and whoops, now we’re in love? Yes.
Pure wholesome delight. The history that Catie and Danny have together made this story so deep and brilliant. At every moment, their love for their families would come up in each of their own internal dialogues – because the challenges of actually dating someone who is inextricably linked with your own family is hard. They both thought about this in such depth, they understood the risks involved but their feelings became so overwhelming that…it felt almost natural to begin a relationship.
Catie is also an amputee, having to choose to lose her legs after getting extremely sick when she was younger. Being an athlete, Catie has honed her body into a machine – she needs to be in order to achieve her dream to become a paraolympian. Catie might be my favourite character in this series. I found her to be so intelligent, so funny and witty and most importantly, wonderfully sarcastic. Her banter with Danny?! Exquisite. But, the exploration of her trauma, especially regarding her father (and also her mother) and how it directly impacted the way she interacted with Danny and how she percieved her relationship with him, showcased an emotional and mental growth. They deserve each other.
Danny was also an interesting character, and I thoroughly enjoyed how 𝑵𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒊 𝑺𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒉 portrayed him. We have this incredibly masculine man, who plays what could be considered one of the most hyper-masculine sport…and he loves to bake. His dream after rugby? To open a bakery. The exploration of the complexity of identity, of deconstructing what it means to be ‘masculine’, of Danny realising his own dream is worth it and nothing to embarrassed about, was so lovely to read.
I can’t obviously speak to whether Catie’s experiences are accurate or if there was anything problematic, if there was, I am not in a position to see it. I would recommend people check out some ownvoices reviews to ensure Catie’s representation of being an amputee is not offensive.
And that’s it for today, friends!
I hope you enjoyed it!
Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,