Reviewed by Jenny
Wow! What a ride! Real Ugly. What an apt title because this was Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll in its rawest and ugliest form.
What do I say about a book like Real Ugly? How do I convey how I felt reading this book? Well, let me try.
First off, I know it gripped me by the throat from the first chapter and pulled me in kicking and screaming and once there I was completely at its mercy, I was addicted and couldn’t put it down.
I know that even though a time or two I would have liked the animosity and hatred between Turner and Naomi to ease up a little, I absolutely revelled in the sexual tension between these two and the complete angst of this story.
If you’re looking for a nice, sweet rock star romance…….well this ain’t it! In fact I would say Real Ugly is the antithesis of a sweet rock star romance. It’s a nonstop gritty, raw and edgy rock star book which makes no apologies for what it is. The characters treatment of one another was sometimes quite awful which made reading Real Ugly a little arduous at times, but the story, angst, rampant sexual chemistry and alternating POV’s between Turner and Naomi had me turning every page.
Naomi and I, we kiss hard and rough, like we’re not just trying to make out, but like we’re trying to hurt each other.”
This is a no holds barred, gritty romp through life on the road with rockers Turner Campbell and Naomi Knox. Two talented, ballsy yet somewhat vulnerable people who have baggage by the truckload. These two attended the school of hard knocks and their attitude and behaviour attests to this. There is no bullshit about Turner and Naomi. They’ll tell it as is it without hesitation, to each other and to others.
Naomi especially has a lot of demons from her past which are explored in Real Ugly, and even though I guessed a couple, I didn’t envisage the way they were exposed and the impact and flow on effect revealing just one secret would have. I was taken by surprise quite a few times and the way the secrets were exposed and conveyed by this author was akin to receiving a great big smack between the eyes! Geez, even Naomi’s secrets have secrets and Turner would have secrets if he wasn’t wasted all the time and could remember what a secret was.
“Fuck this is exactly why I hate secrets. Just when you think everything is peachy fucking keen, some shit has to get stirred up..”
We are taken through life of the road as two explosive, and I mean explosive personalities clash. These two have history, however, lines are blurred on what exactly that history exactly was and I was completely gobsmacked learning what had transpired there.
“Your past is your foundation, and if it’s crumbling, then you’ve got nothing left to build on.”
Putting a specific tag on this book is so difficult. Romance? Well…no, you couldn’t call this a romance, though there is a connection between Turner and Noami that can’t be denied- but it’s definitely NOT the hearts and flowers kind. Hot, brutal and dirty is how I would describe it. Angst? You betcha! Drama? Aplenty!. Sex? Hell yeah! Though I have to say it wasn’t hot as I would have expected between two such hostile and volatile characters but it was definitely there. And yet there is also mystery and intrigue all rolled into a rock and roll story with characters the likes of which will test you to the limit and have you begging for more!
So, what about our leading characters? First up we have the cocky, self-assured, self-absorbed, drug taking, hot as freaking hell (though his clothing choice is questionable!) man slut and unbelievably talented Turner Campbell. Front man for Indecency.
“I look out from under my lashes. Think it’s a chick trick? Guess you’ve never fucking tried it. Women love long eyelashes”
This man is a douche. No, he really is! He uses women, drugs and anything else with reckless abandon. The only thing that matters to Turner is…. well….Turner. On stage this man is king! I know one thing. I would really love to see Turner up on stage because the way this author describes it, Turner’s stage presence is tangible.
“I feel like a fucking king up here, like I’m being worshipped.”
I should hate this guy. I should hate him as much as Noami does but dammit….just like Naomi I found myself drawn to this rock god demon! I was drawn to him in such a way that by the end of the book I may even go so far as to say I loved him because Turner did, in some small way redeem himself.
“He practically fucks them with his voice, splits their souls in half and enslaves them. “
He has a thing for Naomi Knox, guitarist and song writing genius with Amatory Riot. Just what this “thing” is remains to be seen. This girl is outwardly confident, ballsy, pulls no punches and she hates Turner Campbell with a passion, yet at the same time she feels a strong pull towards him – a sort of animal attraction to this man among other things.
I love strong heroines and Naomi was certainly a tough heroine, though at times she was a little too tough for me. This girl had a lot of past issues to deal with and life had done her no favours and as much as you sensed her vulnerability, her attitude was always so antagonistic that I really would have have liked to have seen her soften a little because unlike Turner, Naomi didn’t really redeem herself to me. Yes, I understood where that toughness came from and why she was hard as nails but I was hoping Naomi’s tough exterior could have broken down just a little more. I loved seeing Noami in times of reflection to her music because this is when the other side of Naomi showed through. Her music was where she laid out her heart.
“When I play, I dive so deep into myself that I come out the other side a different person.”
On stage Turner beguiles her. There is no man who can touch Turner in her eyes when he’s performing. When Turner is on stage he owns it. He defines it and in that moment, he owns Naomi as well.
“Turner sucks in a massive lungful of air, blowing his hot breath across the microphone and breaking my heart with a single gasp.”
Off stage it’s a different story. You get the feeling Noami would rather torture this man a long and painful death than admit she has an attraction to him.
This book certainly kept me on my toes. It was rough, tough and one I couldn’t put down. I kept waiting for the reprieve that never came and I don’t think I took a breath until the end. I loved working through Naomi’s secrets and how they affected those around her and I have soooo many questions I need answered. This book isn’t for the fainthearted because the characters really treat one another terribly and show little respect for anything and anyone. The only thing they do show respect for is their music.
That effing CLIFFHANGER!! I have to say, if I didn’t know the next book, Get Bent was coming out in mere weeks, I would have been filthy over that ending. However, I will contain my temper tantrum because I know I’m getting more Turner and Naomi soon. See! I am totally addicted to these two crazy misfits!
“Life is real, and it’s ugly, and it hurts. I’ve only ever loved three things in my life, and none of them of them worked out for me.”
Real Ugly isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s one of those books we term a Vegemite (or in Gitte’s case..Marmite) book. Readers are either going to like it or loathe it. I liked it. Now it’s up to you to read it for yourself and discover which way you’ll go.