Once upon a time, my daughter made a friend at Temple, and I set up a playdate. (Actually, Jess probably coordinated the details…) But what transpired after that has been a great gift in my life: a new author friend to love! If you haven’t read a Jessica Topper book, you should. I always come back to two things when talking about Jess’s work – beautiful words and deep characters. She creates worlds for her people, not just the one they share, but individual histories they bring to the story. In SOFTER THAN STEEL, her latest release, these histories include an iguana named Banana Louie, an orange ribbon, a misericorde tattoo, crippling panic attacks. a drunk dad, and two heartbreaking ghosts (it’s not a ghost story, but if you read it, you’ll know who I mean). And yoga and rock and roll, of course.
You can hear Jess’s fantastic voice in the blurb:
Under the liberating guise of his alter ego ‘Riff Rotten’, Rick Rottenberg has circled the globe playing sold-out shows and sampling the universal delights that fame and fortune allow a rock star of his caliber. But he can no longer ignore the panic attacks plaguing him with increasing regularity. Not knowing where else to turn, Rick finds himself turning a doorknob – entering not only into the spiritual world of yoga, but into a retro world of rock music he had long abandoned as well. Revolve Records reminds him of why he picked up a guitar in the first place, and he hopes that Evolve Yoga – and its sexy owner – will help him forget everything else.
Swearing off musicians has been Sidra Sullivan’s mantra ever since a charismatic singer with a bad case of LSD (Lead Singer Disease) blocked her chakras and closed off her heart. The last thing she wants is another huge ego in tight pants hanging around, consuming her time and attention. But when Rick makes an offer to save her family’s historic Lower East Side building in exchange for her help, she begrudgingly makes an exception.
As she works him up to more challenging poses, he begins to wear down her walls of protection, challenging her to see him in a different light. She, in turn, teaches the steeled, seasoned rock warrior to soften his stance and find strength from within. But when a rock and roll power play threatens to disrupt the delicate balance that has grown between them, Sidra must decide whether to follow her head and fight, or to open her heart and fly.
Sidra and Riff became so real to me I felt as if I could slip inside their skins. I was having an awful week, working something like eight days straight at the bakery, and I spent most of my free time reading SOFTER THAN STEEL. Topper world is a wondrous place to be. My favorite moments are when her hard rock heroes hit the stage. As a long-time member of the inner world of the music biz, Topper’s command of rock vocabulary is absolute. Jess is also a lifelong metal head, an Iron Maiden devotee of the highest order. She lives it. She writes it. She owns it. Meet Jess Topper…
Jessica Topper is an ex-librarian turned rock n’ roll number cruncher. She can trace her love for the written word back to age three, when she memorized Maurice Sendak’s “Chicken Soup with Rice” in its entirety.
After her daughter was born, Jessica left the Manhattan library world and began working for her husband’s music management company. He offered her a part-time bookkeeping job so she could “stay home for the baby’s first year” and pursue her dream of writing.
The baby is now thirteen, and Jessica has been working her full-time, sold-her-soul-for-rock-n-roll job as Office Manager for veteran jam band moe. ever since. She may have traded in books for bookkeeping, but the written word is never far from her mind, or her heart.
Jessica lives in upstate New York with her husband, daughter and one ancient cat. You can visit her at www.jessicatopper.com.
SOFTER THAN STEEL is the third book in her Love & Steel series. It can stand alone, but I recommend starting at the beginning with the book that blew my socks off when it was only half-written. Jessica Topper is that good. Enter her music world with LOUDER THAN LOVE. Keep going with DEEPER THAN DREAMS. And then enjoy: SOFTER THAN STEEL!
Here’s an excerpt from SOFTER THAN STEEL because she also brings the sexy…and never enough Topper! 🙂
“Erm, luv . . . do you realize there’s a shoe nailed to your wall?”
The gentle kisses between her breasts had felt like a dream, but the vibration of Rick’s voice and his breath on her skin both warmed and awakened her.
“Yes, it’s my flip-flop.” The gorgeous guy who had shared her bed for the second night in a row was now working his way down her body. Sunlight streamed through the windows, bronzing his strong shoulders. She captured one of his curls between her fingers as it tickled its way across her tummy and lazily twirled it. “You’re only noticing it now?”
“My mind is usually elsewhere when I’m in your bedroom, luv. As is my mouth.”
Sidra groaned, twisting his hair in her fist. “Talk about driving your point home,” she panted as his tongue darted against her tightest, most tender spot. “Oh, my . . .” His arms gripped her thighs as he lifted her.
“I could drink from you all day, Goddess.”
Those dark eyes flicked a glance at her so intense, she nearly came on the next long lap of his tongue. But he wasn’t nearly through with her. He kissed her very tip, making her tremble and buck up against him.
He licked slow circles around her glossy core, stroking out each whimper and sigh as his personal prize. Heat spiraled in her belly, and her breasts ached. She ran her hands over them, marveling at their heaviness, before plunging her fingers into his hair. He groaned, pulling her against his mouth and sucking her sweetly.
“Make love to me.” She had never wanted anything like she wanted him inside of her now. Her whole being begged for him. “Rick . . .” She summoned, and he responded, climbing her gently, sliding kisses across her hips, her nipples, her throat, covering her with his lean, hard frame.
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Riff Rotten…