Monday, June 24, 2013

Dirty Little Secret (Early Book Review)

Monday, June 24, 2013 10:22 AM with 28 comments
Dirty Little SecretDirty Little Secret

Author: Jeenifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Number of Pages: 288
Release Date: July 16, 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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…

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MY THOUGHTS:
I've never been a fan of country music. This may not seem like a big deal, but I grew up in Wyoming. My high school mascot was the Plainsmen (and Plainswomen) and my university mascot was the Cowboys. Wyoming is the true West and country music is prevalent. This isn't to say that other music didn't exist. Luckily, I grew up in Wyoming's university town (yes, there is only one) so there was plenty of variety and I was exposed to lots of different types of music, but country was definitely king. I have plenty of love and respect for old school country greats like Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Johnny Cash and I'm not ashamed to admit to liking Taylor Swift, but for the most part, country music makes my ears bleed and I'd rather go to the dentist for an all-day procedure than listen to the country station for more than 15 minutes. That said, I was really excited to read Dirty Little Secret, the newest book from author Jennifer Echols that tackles the lives of country musicians living in Nashville.

It's going to sound contradictory, but I've always been a fan of the city of Nashville. It's a beautiful town and there is just a joy that comes from a city built on live music (despite everything I just said, I will listen to pretty much anything if it's live). I remember a family trip to Nashville where we stayed at the beautiful Grand Ole Opry Hotel and actually caught a show at the Grand Ole Opry House, which was amazing. So it was fun to be able to picture the scenes that were described in the book.

Dirty Little Secret follows a teenager named Bailey. Bailey has just graduated high school and is spending the summer at her grandfather's house while she waits to start Vanderbilt in the fall. Bailey has been "dumped" into her grandfather's lap after she was in a car crash with her now ex-boyfriend before the novel starts. Her parents can no longer watch after her because they are too busy helping her younger sister, Julie, fulfill her country superstar dreams. Bailey and Julie spent their entire lives as a duet. Touring the state fairs and bluegrass circuits throughout their entire childhoods, Bailey is shocked and hurt when record executives swoop in and sign Julie to a solo deal. Bailey, the fiddler, always sang harmony to Julie's guitar and melody, but it was Bailey's songs they sang and Bailey's pitch that was perfect. The worst betrayal though, is the fact that her parents want her to quit music altogether. They make her quit any form of social media and forbid her to play music. The record company is afraid that Julie's image will suffer if people find out that she used to be a duet with her now discarded sister. Bailey's parents agree that they will pay for her schooling at Vanderbilt under the condition that she not draw any attention to herself over the summer.

Regardless of their wishes, Bailey does find a summer job playing back-up to the various musician impersonators that walk around the mall playing old favorites. She plays with "Elvis" and "Dolly" and eventually works with "Johnny Cash" and his son, Sam. Immediately, Bailey knows Sam will be trouble. Gorgeous and talented Sam zooms in on Bailey and her fiddle, believing she is exactly what his band needs to make it to the next level. Even though she knows she shouldn't, Bailey agrees to play with Sam's band "for one night only" and the group rocks it.

Playing with the band brings a whole set of complications. Not only is her college career on the line if she disobeys her parents, but the other members of the band don't seem particularly over-joyed at the prospect of a new member. The drummer, Courtney, especially has a problem with Bailey. Courtney is in love with Sam and she is not at all happy when she sees the chemistry brewing between Sam and Bailey.

Overall, I did enjoy Dirty Little Secret. It's a relatively quick read, clocking in at under 300 pages. I love books that revolve around music in some way (yes, even country) especially books that follow musicians. I enjoyed Bailey's character, but did wish that she would grow a backbone and stand up to her parents. Speaking of, I found the characterization of her parents to be unrealistic. To spend so much time on your daughters only to sweep one of them completely aside just didn't ring true to me. I've only read one other book by Jennifer Echols, Such a Rush, and the mother in that book was just awful, too. I'm not going to go on my "bad parent in YA" rant today, but it still grates me. Along the same lines, you are supposed to believe that her sister, whose life she has always been a huge part of, would also cast her aside. Maybe I'm underestimating the power of the almighty dollar, but I also have a sister that I love very much, and there's just no way I would ever ask for her to give up something that she loves, while also casting her aside. Seriously.

I did enjoy the growing relationship between Sam and Bailey. Jennifer Echols certainly knows how to create chemistry between two characters. Things get pretty steamy quickly between the two and I was definitely rooting for them to get together. But Sam isn't without his faults, as well. The only thing he seems to care about is making it big any way he can. This drive is admirable to a point, but it soon becomes apparent that relationships are secondary, which made rooting for him a little harder. Bailey finds out that he has had a long string of girlfriends in the past year before landing on her, and she wonders if he will ever be able to truly care for another person.

In sum, I would recommend Dirty Little Secret if you enjoy books that follow musicians, or are just looking for a summer romance. Again, it's a quick and easy read and though far from perfect, a good summer book. 

*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*

28 comments:

  1. I'm a big fan of books about musicians! This one sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for the review!

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    1. Thanks, Christianna. Books about musicians are always fun. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Just started reading this one!

    I'm not a huge fan of listening to country music, but yet there is something about reading about country musicians that appeals to me. The premise of this one strikes me a little strange -- I mean, in the age of the internet, can the fact that Julie used to perform with her sister really be kept secret? Or is this a historical novel, pre-internet? I've only started reading and already not sure about that aspect of the story, but I am a big Jennifer Echols fan so I'm still excited to read this.

    And LOL I thought you were British. Maybe because of the background on your blog…
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. Nope, just an Anglophile who loves these telephone booths. I'm not trying to be misleading. Lol. It's not historical. Her parents make her quit Facebook, so that part really is kind of left unexplained. In this day and age, people would quickly find out about her. Overall, it's just a pretty cute story, but pretty unrealistic. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Jennifer Echols writes some really great books. Have you read SUCH A RUSH? For the most part, I really loved that book. This is a pretty interesting concept to a story, and it doesn't sound like something I've read before, so I'm definitely intrigued. Wonderful review, Natalie! I'm adding this to my TBR :)

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    1. I have read Such a Rush. I really wasn't the biggest fan. I had a real issue with her mother's characterization and the complete overuse of the word "whore". This one is cute and worth reading--especially in the summer. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I really enjoyed this one, esp the music part. Not a fan of country music, but I really do enjoy live music, regardless of the genre! I thought there were a few holes here, namely Bailey's family and her relationship with Sam, but it was really well written and kept me enthralled that I kind of just glossed over those points! Great review!

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    1. I'm with you--I'll listen to anything live. There were definitely holes, esp. w/ her family and Sam, like you said, but sometimes with these types of books I'm ok with letting somethings go. I didn't love this one, but I found it entertaining enough for what it is. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Great review. I really liked this one, but when I think about it I can only really think of negative things. I liked Bailey a lot, but I agree with you about the characterization of her parents and sister not ringing true. Also, Sam just made me uncomfortable. At first I was all excited for them to get together and it was certainly steamy, but the more I learned about him the more turned off I was.

    Also, if you don't like bad parents in YA don't read any more of Jennifer Echols' books! In addition to Such a Rush and this one, I've read Forget You, and Going Too Far and they all have terrible parents.

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    1. Thanks, Maggie! I agree that Sam wasn't the best romantic character, it was definitely hard to figure out his motives and I was definitely less into him as the book continued and it just seemed like he was using her to further the band.

      I wonder why Jennifer Echols always writes bad parents? I don't always hate it (although I usually do), but it has to make sense and it didn't here. They were invested in her her whole life...and then they weren't.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I really want to read this one! I love music of any kind, so I was desperately pining over Dirty Little Secret when I first read about it! I'm pleased that you've said this is a cute and quick read, as that's what I want from this one (when I get to reading it!). Great review!

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    1. It's a good quick summer book. Again, it's not without its issues, but it's fine for what it is. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. This sounds like a book I'll have to borrow from the library sometime, mostly just to read the author's portrayal of Nashville, since I live near by. (And I don't like country music either!)

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    1. Nashville is such a lovely city. The descriptions are mostly of Broadway and the bar scene there. It's definitely a library type book. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. I'm not much of a country fan either, so I didn't get half of the references. Ugh, the parents were so horrible! I hated how much they controlled Bailey and her future. I was rooting for Bailey to mouth off her family and go her own way, but obviously that didn't happen. I wasn't a fan of the ending. It was an okay read but I expected so much more. Great review, Natalie!

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    1. Her parents definitely sucked. This is the first book I've finished in forever (I've been going through a horrible slump) so I think that made me like it a bit more. And honestly, I really didn't like Such a Rush (even though everyone else did), so I was surprised when I enjoyed this one more. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. I'm not big on country music either, but I am with you on loving books that revolve around music in any way. What a shame that a lot of the characters weren't great. Especially those parents - not all parents are great, but with the proportion of crap parents that you get in books, you would think that a majority of parents would be terrible if that were true to life. Which thankfully it is not. Alright, that was my mini rant on crap parents in YA. I would totally love to read your rant if you should ever want to share!

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    1. I've done my rant a few times (although I think most of my rants were on Goodreads before I started this blog), but it is pretty similar to your mini one. For real, most parents love their children and don't want to see them harmed. Nobody is perfect, of course, but I think the YA characteristic of distant or downright cruel parents is ridiculous. It's lazy writing, imo. That's my mini rant...I have a much longer one, but I'll save that for another day. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. I'm a big fan of Echols, so I'll definitely be reading it (even if it is about country music!). Glad you enjoyed it, I've seen some mixed reviews.

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    1. This is the second book of hers that I've read. I didn't really care for Such a Rush, but found this one pretty enjoyable. I hope you love it once you get your hands on a copy! Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. I'm an Echols fan so I will be reading this, but like you I am not a country music fan (unless you count The Eagles ;) )

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    1. I've always considered the Eagles more of a classic rock band than a country one, but I can see how others may classify them as country. I hope you enjoy this one! Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Ha, I didn't really start liking country music until recently. I was forced to listen to it growing up -- I live in Texas -- but I found that I have a healthy respect for it now. Especially the classics, like Johnny Cash. Still, it's not what I prefer to listen to. I think I'll enjoy reading about a country singer, though, especially after suffering The Voice for the last two seasons, thanks to my husband. I have even more respect for country singers now. :)

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    1. Johnny Cash is the man. I love him and a lot of the old school guys and gals. I never got into the Voice. It's funny your hubby makes you watch it. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. Great review Natalie! I live in Nashville, so I also really enjoy books about country music even though I don't really listen to it(It's fun to see how it's all portrayed!) I have this one ready to go and will hopefully start it later this week!

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    1. Do you? Fun. I love Nashville. I hope you like this one once you get into it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. There's just something about books with music and/or musicians that I just love. This book may be one I would like. :)

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    1. I'm always drawn to "music" books, too. I hope you enjoy it if you do pick it up! Thanks for stopping by!

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!