May 23, 2013

ARC Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Dirty Little Secret cover
Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

From Goodreads

There are a few names that will get my attention when it comes to books. Jennifer Echols is one of the fastest ways to get me to focus on what you're saying. Her books are just so real. She does contemporary romance, almost always with a theme, unlike anybody else. Such a Rush, Forget You, & Love Story are some of my favorites by her. I think part of the draw to read her work stems from the memorable situations & characters she creates. Like I said, there is always a theme in her books. Planes, writing, and music have all taken center stage in her books allowing a wonderful medium in which to create the ideal situation for her stories.

Bailey's story is unique because she's not struggling to prove herself; she is an accomplished musician. She's struggling to create her own self rather than the self that everyone is trying to thrust upon her. Her parents expect one thing, her sister another, & the new band she joined definitely has other opinions in regards to her actions. She has to decide what's best for her & it's clashing with her relationships.

Sam is a fairly typical wannabe-megastar musician except that he's almost as conflicted as Bailey. While he has a clear sight on his ultimate goal, he's conflicted about the best way to get there; not who he has to go through, or what it's going to cost him, he simply knows he has to get a recording contract. He sees an opportunity in Bailey that he didn't necessarily plan on, but the disharmony between his heart's desire & his career goal are striking all the wrong chords with everyone.

Naturally this book is set in Nashville as it is about country music. I really like the breath of fresh air with the musically style. By throwing in the curve balls with the band's musical stylings I think Jennifer has done a fabulous jobs blending classic country with modern music. I would LOVE to have actually been able to hear some of these renditions. 

The only think that I can think of that would have made this book even better would be some closer glimpses at Bailey's life between the announcement of her sister's contract & the accident that lands her in her grandfather's care for the summer. We get some big details that are pertinent to plot development, but I think there could have been some more set up just so that the reader is better able to more closely identify with the protagonist.

While there is only one actual steamy romance scene, plenty of sexual acts are alluded to between Bailey & several guys. The same can be said for Sam & his girlfriends. For what they are, I don't think they're any more risque than you might read elsewhere in YA. There is also small mentions of drugs & drinking and driving, but they are used in a cautionary way. I liked how she handled these situations because sometimes when I hear that a book is about the music scene all I can think about it sex, drugs, & rock 'n roll. This was not the case in this book and I loved it!

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