4 star rating

Softer Than Steel

Love & Steel Series, #2

By  Jessica Topper

ISBN10: 0698192281

ISBN13: 9780698192287

Author’s Website:

Review brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra

Synopsis:Softer Than Steel

As rock star “Riff Rotten”, Rick Rottenberg has enjoyed all the perks that fame can offer, especially now that he’s reunited with his former band mate, Adrian “Digger” Graves. But despite his success, Rick is a mess. Still reeling from the death of his wife years ago and terrified his demons will end his career, he agrees to seek help for his anxiety.

Burned by a musician in the past, Sidra Sullivan has closed her heart to love. So when Rick walks into her yoga studio, she wants nothing to do with him–until the bad boy shows an unexpected soft side.

As Sidra and Rick work through their painful pasts, they realize just how strongly opposites can attract. But when a crisis threatens the delicate balance they’ve forged, they’ll discover if their love is strong enough to weather another storm or just too broken to survive. 


Funny thing about books, they can surprise you. As I was reading Softer Than Steel, the second book in the Love & Steel series by Jessica Topper I was at times wishing the pace would pick up and that the two main characters would meet and the story would move along more quickly.  I persevered and lo and behold, the story just took off and I became totally engaged and in the end absolutely loved the story of Rick and Sidra.  So my advice….hang in there as it is worth the ride!

This book especially pulled at my heart strings, my emotional side, which is what a romance is all about in my opinionJ.  I was also pleased to see humour speckled throughout the story as well.  For example the following certainly produced a chuckle while I was reading on the bus home one day:

…Now it was Sidra’s turn to snort.  At least Liz’s sip code was seeing some occasional action.  Ever since Sidra had kicked Charlie out, the only action she got in her zip code was self-addressed, so to speak.”

The cross over with the characters from the first book in the series “Louder Than Love”, was not as robust as I would have liked.  I actually wanted a bit more mention of Kat and Digger in the beginning as I was already invested in these characters from the first book and would have made my acceptance of the new characters (who of course were the focus of this book) quicker.  But alas, that was not the case.  Probably why it took quite a while for me to become vested in this book and why the reading of the book took much longer than my usual week or less to read a book timeframe.

One little thing that did tend to distract from the story for me was the numerous spelling / grammatical errors.  The lack of attention to detail in proofreading tends to annoy me.  Luckily, the story was engaging enough that I continued to read until the last word.

I quite enjoyed the fact that there was depth to each of Sidra and Rick.  They had lives and worries outside of their budding romance.  Rick was dealing with anxiety attacks and rocky relationship with Adrian (Digger) and last but not least, his dead wife.  Sidra was concerned with her flailing yoga business, the strains of having an alcoholic father and her unhealthy connection with her ex.  I must admit at times the romance seemed to take a back seat to all of these issues.  Yoga was what brought Rick and Sidra together.  As Rick progressed in the art of yoga, so did their relationship.  A slow burning progression; which I found very sensual and yet charming.

The journey for Rick with respect to accepting and moving on from the death of his wife is arduous and intriguing.  The anxiety attacks play in to this, as does all of his aberrant behaviour since Simone’s death.  Yoga, along with the kind soul that is Sidra help Rick finally move past so that he is able to accept the fact that he can love again without guilt.

I really felt the emotional expression of Sidra’s and Rick’s budding relationship when Rick asked Sidra to his home in the VERY early morning…but for what reason?

Sidra and Rick are discussing Rick’s panic attacks…he had a whopper of one a few nights previously…and was thus not sleeping very well.  Sidra recalls the conversation she had with Vivian (a senior citizen in her afternoon yoga class) the previous day where Vivian indicates that she can see that Rick was nursing a broken heart.  So as to why he asked Sidra to the apartment so early…he wanted to show her something: “Sidra followed his gaze. A shimmering red-gold sun was just making its debut above the tiny LEGO brick-like buildings across the park. Its rays began to burst through each and every treetop.  ‘All my life I’ve lived on the East Side of the island,’ she gasped.  ‘But I’ve never, never seen the sun rise like this.’  

This passage was just so powerful…I could feel the sunrise they were watching and at that moment, felt the relationship take a turn to something more for each of them.

As with any relationship, there are many twists, turns and bumps.  This is what made the love story interesting and engaging…at least for this reader. Thank you, Jessica Topper for penning another emotionally engaging tale in the continuation of the Love & Steel series.

 *OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*