young adult book review of dirty little secrets by jennifer echols

Magan: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

young adult book review of dirty little secrets by jennifer echolsDirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: MTV Books
Pages: 288
Target audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: country music, Nashville, family drama, hot guitar player
Format read: ARC received from the publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary: After a year of breaking all her parent’s rules, Bailey is living with her grandfather. Though she’s not allowed to play her fiddle or even consider joining a band, her grandfather helps her get a job playing in a tribute band… where she meets the mysterious Sam.

If your interest is even slightly piqued by any of the below, I strongly suggest you purchase Jennifer Echols’ newest upcoming release, Dirty Little Secret. Just look at all that’s in store for you…

♥ Steamy scenes.
♥ Hot love interest.
♥ Strong-willed main character.
♥ A little bit of country music in the great city of Nashville, TN.
♥ A big helping of family drama.

After Bailey’s younger sister is signed to a mega-record label, her parents focus all their attention on making Julie’s career a success. This means removing Bailey from the music scene (even though the sisters used to be a duo, playing shows together all the time) so no one catches wind of the ripped-apart-sisters-storyline that could ruin Julie’s career before it’s begun. Bailey, over the course of a year, morphs into a girl that’s only an inkling of who she used to be. She chops her long, blonde locks into an asymmetrical cut and dyes her hair black; she begins dressing sexier and edgier than ever before. Bailey wants to be badass.

When her sister leaves to go on tour, Bailey is asked to move in with her grandfather. Though she’s been forbidden to play her fiddle or participate in any shows, her grandfather pulls some strings and lands her a job where she plays in tribute bands at the mall. Some days she plays with Elvis Presley, others with Dolly Parton. The day she plays with the Johnny Cash band, she’s challenged by the guitar-playing-boy who pushes her to play harder and better. The boy named Sam who she thinks she’s met before. The boy who invites her to play with his band… and for some reason, even though Bailey should, she just can’t turn down.

Oh, holy smokes, you guys. Bailey and Sam’s connection was on fire. These two, from the moment they met, were flirty and sarcastic. It did take me a minute to accept how quickly their relationship developed, but I’d consider that a minor bump in the road. (And I was only concerned because WHOA BUDDY was there a steamy, steamy scene pretty early on and I felt so protective of Bailey.) Sam’s charismatic and quite a charmer, but he also has a story that made me cock my head to the side and squint my eyes at the pages because I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure him out.

Sam’s suspicious storyline, plus Bailey’s family drama that was slowly unfolding, and the way these two seemed to magnetically be connected completely absorbed me. Another minor hesitation was that when the climax of the story arrived, I felt like Echols could have explored the resolution a little bit more. It felt a little like, “OH CRAP! THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GO DOWN.” … *fade to black* … All is better now. I fully believe Echols has the ability to dive into those tough situations and provide an example of how these messy moments can be resolved, but it just didn’t happen here as much as I wanted.

Despite my hesitancy with areas of the story, I believe Jennifer did a lovely job with the Bailey and Sam’s story. And heck, she even got me listening to country music. (I would have said pre-Dirty Little Secret that this was darn near impossible.)

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Be sure to check out the playlist for Dirty Little Secret on Jennifer’s website too!

Estelle: Big Sky Summer by Linda Lael Miller

Big Sky Summer by Linda Lael MillerBig Sky Summer by Linda Lael Miller ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 5/28/2013
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 320
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: country music, children, cowboys
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: Casey is a well-known country music artist who has traveled all over the world, and Walker continues the family tradition of working rodeos. For years and years, Casey and Walker have kept the secret that her two teenager kids are actually his. But as Walker watches the kids grow up, he realizes he wants to be a part of their lives as “Dad” and not “uncle.” He’s also still in love with Casey. Can the two move on for the past and make a relationship work? Will their kids ever forgive them for the lies?

You had me at cowboy.

Walker is a hat-tippin, horse-riding gentlemen with a soft spot for country star, Casey Alder, and her two fantastic kids. Two kids that are his, evidence of two passionate nights with a woman he has been forced to love from afar. Kind of crazy isn’t it? Despite Casey’s popularity, the tabloids and the gossip columnists have not uncovered the fact that her kids were not product of test-tube pregnancies. But as they grow older, the resemblance becomes more evident, and Casey and Walker believe they finally have to tell their kids the truth.

I love that Casey and Walker have a history that spans the years when they were young and on the cusp of success. While I wish that Miller concentrated on their earlier moments together instead of informing readers in bits and pieces, this really amped up the tension between the two. THEY CANNOT KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF ONE ANOTHER.

Casey’s resolution to all the lies and craziness is marriage. Telling the kids the truth and then getting hitched to Walker. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that jump in her decision making process. It seems hard enough to deal with a daughter who is very hurt and it felt the the decision was more about appeasing her fans and the public then her kids. But it also forces them Casey and Walker to share a bed. So there is that. (Although it is NOT cool to not tell your partner that the condom broke. I don’t care how old you are or what the circumstances.)

Despite that hiccup, I was really impressed with Miller’s dialogue. It’s often the case with romance novels that everything starts to blend together and I thought she did a nice job of bringing humor and affection to the story. It’s also interesting to see what happens to two characters who made certain choices when they were young, and watch them wrestle with those choices years later — not necessarily regretting them but certainly figuring out where they could have done better.

If you like a mega-country setting or are a fan of the television show, Nashville, I’d say you best pick this one up. Though I warn you, the country tunes will be two-stepping in your head for sure.

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