STAGED Offers the Best and Worst of Humanity


Book 3 in the Exodus End World Tour series
Author Olivia Cunning
Narrated by Teddy Hamilton, Mackenzie Cartwright
Published by Tantor Media
Publication date Feb 12, 2019
Running time 17 hrs

I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


Exodus End’s legendary drummer, Steve Aimes, plays the role of a rock star better than anyone in the business. Since his divorce, he’s embraced every rock ‘n’ roll stereotype and uses those vices to keep women at a safe emotional distance, while keeping their physical distance recklessly close. He vowed years ago to never give any woman the power to break his heart again. He just has to keep playing the part, and never drop his guard, and stop obsessing over the keyboardist in their new opening act.

Roux Williams knows an opportunity like this only comes around once in a lifetime. Her band, Baroquen, has finally gotten their big break and are opening for Exodus End and Sinners—two powerhouses of rock—on the European leg of their world tour. She refuses to screw up this opportunity by getting involved with Steve Aimes no matter how gorgeous, sexy, and surprisingly attentive he is. She can’t deny her attraction to him—the man has the body of a god and the face of a model—but he’s absolutely off limits.

When their worlds are rattled by a ploy staged to destroy them, Exodus End’s infamous bad boy and Baroquen’s not–yet–famous good girl must figure out a way to have it all and each other.


My Take Oblong Shaped


STAGED cover

This novel runs 17 hours which is a long time for a steamy,  contemporary romance of the rock-n-roll variety.  It doesn’t seem long, or as if there is a lot of filler.  While the relationship develops quickly, it is over a period of at least a month.  But then again, there are events which seem to have  occurred a week or so ago is referred to as having occurred the one or two nights before.  It’s not so much dates but the amount of other occurrences in the story: concerts, travels, meals, workouts, etc. 

It is a common issue for me in contemporary romance but, maybe I just live a slower, more boring life.

There’s a new band involved; a Goth-dressing, “Girl-band,” creatively named, Baroquen. The women involved are foster sisters who each come from a horrific situation but were saved by a wonderful foster mother and music professor. It’s nice, and unusual, to read positive things about a foster parent.  I think the band members are a new series in the making — only Roux’s history is explicit, the others’ histories are very little hinted at.  The rest of Exodus End, except Dare, I think, are taken, the Sinners, I think, are all married, but I guess the band, Sole Regret has a couple of openings for girlfriends.

Early in the book I found Steve Aimes, a drummer in his thirties, to be immature in his actions, reactions, and sexual language. I wouldn’t care about his prowess in bed or on the stage, his good looks might turn me on but only until he opened his mouth.  First , he’s mad that his friend’s band was canned as opening act and he blames Baroquen for it.  But, knowing the music business it’s rather ridiculous as he would know it was the decision f the “Simon LeGree-esque” manager. His life experiences, and his very nice family to whom we’re introduced, lead me to believe this character would be a more mature person.  
On the other hand, Roux, is a more mature character in her mid-twenties, a survivor of a family tragedy. It’s event so awful it’s hard to believe this woman could actually function. While Cunning reveals her physical ordeal, and is blunt about what occurred, she never mentions the therapy she would have had to have undergone, and would probably still be undergoing.  But Roux’s resolve is amazing, and she would have to be very grown-up to have survived and flourished. 

There are other Steve-based, story lines in addition to the love story between Roux and Steve: the story line of of a “journalist” obsessed with him comes out of Logan and Toni’s story and is ongoing, Steve’s and Max’s conflict with their manager is as well. So we have the bad side of humanity, but the story also offers fine examples of fun, love, friendship, chosen-family, and salvation. It’s also full of the more fun aspects of the rock-n-roll world, tours, fans, performance and of course sex.   

I think I have determined that I think erotic fiction is mostly hotter, that is, more erotic when I read, rather than listen to, it. Purely personal, although my =husband who listens to a fair amount because we live together has concurred.  It can just sound a little ridiculous when I hear it out loud; particularly, the use of slang associated with sex.  Cunning is not shy in the use of the terminology. 

Honestly, I  listened twice to the entire book. The narrators seemed natural and appropriate. Both have nice voices and with the exception of the foster-mother, the accents — even the joke accents — were fine.

I enjoy Cunning’s stories, her unapologetic and enthusiastic writing of erotic scenes, and how she relates the world of rock-n-roll.  Her characters are crazy but all have serious musicianship. There are bands with long histories, and some just starting out. All her characters have real people problems, and put on their pants, as Cunning, in one case says, one leg at a time. 

The book is great fun, and very dramatic.  But, like some of the bands, this series has a long history and this one is quite wrapped up with at least two of the series so you probably don’t want to jump in to the series here start off with an earlier volume. But, you don’t have to necessarily read them all; I have missed a few but still caught on to the story lines.


Links Blue Horizontal