Unrated | 304 pages | Contemporary/Romance | Macmillian | Release Date: 4/2/2019
I’ve seen this book recommended as Nashville meets A Star Is Born which I don’t think is fair because this book was so much better than A Star is Born. Like, this book was what I wanted A Star Is Born to be. I will say music is my pop culture blind spot. I’m not a music person but I’m fascinated by media about music.
Annie Mathers’ is a bright, talented and humble country girl raised by two country music icons whose lives came to a tragic end six years ago. Now she’s is ready to head out on her own and tour with the bad boy of country music; Clay Coolidge. Clay and Annie become a sensation on tour with enough chemistry and talent to sell out stadiums.
What the world doesn’t know is that Clay Coolidge’s swaggering party frat boy persona is just an act that Jefferson Daniels wears to cover the pain of losing his brother and grandfather. The more Jefferson embraces “Clay” the more he sinks into depression and alcoholism and when Annie and her band join his tour for the summer, they pull him out of his siloed world and remind him what it is to be young, talented and free.
The characters in this book all have a lot of fun together, they form a bond only performers (and theater kids) can understand. Clay and Annie’s bands both have fiddlers who have an instant spark and passionate summer romance.
I liked that Annie is presented as Christian and it’s not used as shorthand for virtue or to foil to Clay’s sinner image. Religion is a genuine part of her life and something she leans on to deal with her past.
But here is why I ultimately think the romance in this book works:
There is a grovel.
A grovel is something romance novel readers used to describe the moment when the (typically) hero in the romance has to come back and make a change to win back the heroine. Clay is a teen alcoholic and his illness takes him to some dark places that he has to pull himself out of to earn his HEA with Annie.
Because a majority of the characters are 18-20 this read a lot like a New Adult romance. Hahn has a great ability to build and break relationships, cultivate drama and in a way I associate with New Adult. I wonder if Hahn ever considered this route? I see that she is also a former Twilight fanfiction writer, many of whom have found great success in the NA genre.