Book Reviews

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

16058488[1]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. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Another fantastic story from Jennifer Echols. EVERY book she writes is unique and different from one another but all carry the essence of overcoming obstacles while finding love. (I have read three: Love Story, Going Too Far and Dirty Little Secret). She captures the YA characters so well, in my opinion. Their dialogue is believable and honest.

I don’t know much about country music and I found it wasn’t necessary to enjoy Dirty Little Secrets. Every time a song was mentioned in the story, I listened to the sample on iTunes and it set the scene perfectly. (You MUST do this!). The scene of Sam busking in the streets playing Alan Jackson’s “Remember When” was heartbreaking. Even if you are not a country music fan, you will still appreciate the hard work, passion and dedication it takes to follow a dream of being in the music industry. What felt foreign at the beginning of the story quickly subsided with Echol’s attention to details, giving the reader an education of the Nashville music scene.

The friends-to-lovers progression of Bailey and Sam was once again written beautifully. The intimate scenes are steamy while leaving much to the imagination. Each character is so complex. But complex in a way that makes them feel real. Sam is a bit manipulative in getting what he wants but at the same time up front and honest. His history of girlfriends makes you wonder if he is playing Bailey but he truly wears his heart on his sleeve and it makes him vulnerable. (That “heart on his sleeve” scene was so sweet and romantic). Echols describes Sam as a “handsome devil”. Definitely fitting for he is a southern gentleman while accidently speaking in double entendres. Or is it an accident?

Bailey is no less complex. Love her! Sarcastic and genuine. Edgy yet sensitive. I understood why she rebelled against her family after playing the perfect “country girl” part for years and then was forgotten. Why not cut off all your hair, look goth and party it up? She learned quickly from her mistakes, though, and desperately wanted to continue her passion for playing the fiddle and writing songs. Even after her family treated her terribly she continued to worry about Julie and try to stay out of the limelight for her sake. Going toe to toe with band mate Charlotte (and pretty much anyone who challenged her) was fun to read and her feistiness was a breath of fresh air as a female character. The scenes of her playing in the tribute bands at the mall were comedic.

My favorite thing about Jennifer Echols’ writing? She doesn’t write the typical HEA – “Happily Ever After”. She ends with a different HEA – a “Hopefully Ever After”, allowing the reader to create their own epilogue. Maybe that’s why her stories stay with you for days.

Thank you to NetGalley for this advance, uncorrected reader’s proof.  I was not compensated for this review or required to review it for the blog.

 Dirty Little Secret will be released on July 16, 2013.

About the Author:   Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.  (Summary from Goodreads)   Find her here –>  http://www.jennifer-echols.com/ 

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