By JJ ADAMS
VALENTINE’S Day is rapidly approaching…and until I read my first, I never thought I’d be suggesting these as a gift for metal lovers. But here goes…the Hearts of Metal series written by Brooklyn Ann.
Four intertwined novels set in the world of metal, written by someone who knows her stuff? Who knew? But they’re recommended reading for both girls and guys… even better, buy em to read together to each other as bedtime stories (you can then highlight and act out the sexy bits….)
I’d heard years ago that in the romance novel genre there were romance novels set in every area of life, but a whole series set in the world of metal music? And with believable, well-researched heroes and heroines who were metal musicians and bloggers? Get real!
So how did a serious journalist like me who rarely reads fiction (apart from crime stuff) find these? Well through good old Amazon, who – while I was searching through rock autobiographies for Christmas presents – suggested I might be interested. Four books later, I am now openly addicted.
Author Brooklyn Ann is a former auto mechanic who specialises in writing romances featuring unconventional heroines and heroes in paranormal, historical and now – in Hearts of Metal – musical settings. A long-time metal (and horror movie) fan herself, she knows of what she writes about of the challenges of being a woman in a man’s world…and she certainly knows her music!
There are four books in the series, three (Kissing Vicious, With Vengeance and Rock God) available in both old school book and e-book Kindle format, and a fun Christmas e-book, Metal and Mistletoe.
The “Vicious” and “Vengeance” in the titles refer to the fictional bands Vicious and Bleeding Vengeance in which the heroes (Quinn Mayne and Klement Burke) are key members – Mayne is Vicious’s singer and guitarist, Burke is Bleeding Vengeance’s bassist, songwriter and organiser.
The feisty feminist guitarist heroines in these books are Kinley Black and Katana James, who together started a metal blog called Metalness.com and who – through gaining their chops in playing in a Megadeth covers band (the Megadames) and a series of believable events – end up playing in Vicious and Bleeding Vengeance alongside their heroes…and copping all kinds of flak for doing so! (continued below)
Bleeding Vengeance and Vicious are thrash bands, while Deity – the band featured in Rock God – is more old school melodic metal, and Desra “Dezzie” Hopkins, the heroine of Metal and Mistletoe, is a singer/guitarist with a death metal band called Scalpel. References to metal bands, songs and horror films are scattered throughout the four intertwined books, and it’s a sheer joy to spot them.
The only heroine who isn’t a musician – but is a metal fan – is Shayna Jones of Rock God, who is a romance writer with a cult following on the run from a failed marriage and a terrible tragedy. This was the first of the four I read (it is number three in the series), and I found great enjoyment in the way that author Ann does a number of role reversals in it…such as the scene where the “rock god” Dante Deity takes writer Jones out to dinner and naturally assumes an autograph seeker heading to their table wants HIS autograph – only to discover it is Shayna’s they are after. His reaction is priceless!
Ditto the scene where he introduces the rest of Deity to Shayna’s well-researched historical romance novels (featuring the medieval world he is as equally fascinated by as she is) and – after much sniggering – they all begin seriously delving into the pages, discovering the novels are not only well written and good reading, but also contain some very hot stuff sex scenes which turn them on! Several of the guys then sneak the books up to their beds with them..
Such role reversals – like Kissing Vicious’s Kinley, a woman who proves as tough (or maybe tougher) than her lead singer hero Quinn (his first encounter with her is when she has punched out a sleazy roadie, then offers Quinn her blood soaked hand to shake!) – occur throughout the Hearts of Metal series, provide a lot of the humour, and set these books well apart from the clichéd image of romance novel characters always being portrayed as the stereotypical frail heroine and tough hero.
The heroes and heroines in all the novels are battling very 21st century demons of their own – failed marriages, family trauma and grief, and illnesses like PTSD, OCD and ADHD. Romeo and Juliet lovers Curtis Scrimm and Desra “Dezzie” Hopkins of Metal And Mistletoe – he is from the thrash metal world, she is from death metal: can they ever make music together? – meet in rehab while battling , long-term drug addictions. Desra is also Afro-American and has experienced the double whammy of racism and sexism towards her.
These battles make the characters seem even more real (the author thanks emergency resuscitation staff alongside various musicians for helping her with research) and suck you even deeper into the stories as you travel with them, hoping for a happy outcome for everyone concerned.
I am yet to interview Brooklyn Ann about why she decided to make a u-turn from her series of paranormal and historical novels to write a series based in the heavy metal music. But writing about something she so clearly loves has paid off for her winning the New Adult section of the 2016 Reader’s Choice Award…and there are apparently more Hearts Of Metal books on the way. Yeah!
As they’re difficult to get locally in Australian or British bookstores, I’d go straight to Amazon, where all her books are listed and you can buy either hardcopy or e-book format, to immediately order.
Get em now in time for Valentine’s Day – heaps better than a bunch of red roses or a box of chocolates, although of course you could always combine the three for maximum effect!