Although the rags-to-riches premise feels overdone, the novel’s realism and its portrayal of the conflicts in country music...

THE WHOLE WAY HOME

The dreams of up-and-coming country musicians clash with the reality of the industry in the latest novel by Creech (Season of the Dragonflies, 2014).

Jo Lover is poised to become the next big star of country music, with a stage persona and sound in the same vein as Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Having grown up poor in rural Virginia, Jo has built an identity as a strong, independent woman in trademark red boots. But when her independent label signs a Top 40 band fronted by her first boyfriend and former musical partner, J.D. Gunn, she finds her entire world turned upside down—and threatened by a secret she'd managed to keep out of the press until J.D.’s spotlight shone on her as well. On the cusp of the fame she's longed for since she was a little girl, Jo is forced to grapple with her dark past under the close attention of the media. The novel teases out some of the most compelling contradictions in country music, including the role of careful image curation in an industry built on the perception of authenticity and the retrograde place of women in the male-dominated field. The author places the darker, more corporate forces in music today alongside the lives of Nashville hopefuls, making their worlds intersect in interesting (albeit sometimes clichéd) ways. Creech's portrait of Nashville is complex rather than romantic, and she shows that music is as much about business as passion.

Although the rags-to-riches premise feels overdone, the novel’s realism and its portrayal of the conflicts in country music make it engaging from start to finish.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-240929-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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An entertaining page-turner.

MET HER MATCH

Terri Rayburn is devastated that her perfect man belongs to someone else, but once Nate Taggert realizes that Terri's the one for him, her complicated past still stands in the way of their being together.

Terri is attracted to Nate the moment she lays eyes on him, and soon they fall into an easy partnership at the Virginia lake resort she runs with her father. Nate is upfront about being engaged to the mayor’s daughter, Stacy, but she’s in Europe for a few weeks, and it quickly becomes clear to Terri that Nate and Stacy aren’t a great match. However, Terri, whose mother left when she was 2, has always had a problematic relationship with the citizens of Summer Hill. Since Leslie disappeared, the town gossip has made sure everyone remembers her as a promiscuous vixen, a label which tainted Terri as she got older and made her look like a problem when, as Nate begins to understand, she was really a victim. It’s clear to everyone around them that they are falling in love, but even as Nate realizes it himself, Terri is adamant that they can’t be together. She won’t steal him from the popular Stacy because it would mean she’d never be able to live in Summer Hill, and she won’t abandon her father. Deveraux spins an intriguing and unorthodox romance, continuing her Summer Hill branch of the Taggert/Montgomery series with two characters who have some unique, interesting obstacles in their paths and navigate through them with secrets uncovered and old wounds healed. The story is well plotted, though Nate is unnecessarily oblivious sometimes and the book takes an unexpected swing into romantic suspense territory in the last quarter. The solved mystery resolves Nate and Terri’s conflict, though the villain’s motivations seem a little cartoonish.

An entertaining page-turner.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7783-5124-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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