Dirty Little SecretFeatured
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…
What had me shoutin' Yeehaw!: Dirty Little Secret reads like a country song - you've got love, loss, heartbreak and redemption and as usual, Jennifer Echols gives us flawed characters who are funny, endearing and completely relateable. Bailey is the kind of girl who desires to do the right thing but goes about it the wrong way occasionally. I can't say I blame her though, especially after what happened with her family but despite the pain they've caused her, Bailey still worries about her sister Julie just as much as ever.
And then there's Sam. *sighs* I felt myself drawn in by that quirky heartbreaker whose almost too cute for his own good as easily as Bailey but I was torn between wanting to hug him and kick him in the shins. Sam has big dreams and he'll do just about anything to make them come true even if it means using his friends or leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake. However, he meets his match when he plays Johnny Cash's son to Bailey's, Studio B musician, and Sam will have to decide if having one without the other (Bailey or a music career) is really worth it.
I LOVED that Bailey and Sam had SO much in common and I got choked up quite a few times for them. I'm not a violent person (says the woman who threatened to kick Sam) but I wanted to smack Bailey's mother into next year...I.can't.even with that woman.
What left me cryin' in my whiskey*: I am not a huge country music fan nor am I musically inclined so there were times I was a little lost when Bailey was talking about notes and scales, but I also felt like I was getting an education which was cool! *For the record (pun completely intended), I have never had whiskey to know if it would even be worth crying into. ;)
Final verdict: Read it. Love it. You'll never listen to Lady Antebellum or Justin Timberlake the same way again. ;)
Favorite verse: "Because of the fifty-two girlfriends? Poor baby."
ARC received from Jennifer
On Shelves Now
Reviewed by Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say: Great setting with heartfelt characters, but slow with the plot line
I am a huge fan of Jennifer Echols books. I love how much life she brings into her characters, and I love that she doesn’t shy away from the darker side of some characters. Dirty Little Secret had an amazing setting and some amazingly broken characters; however, because the plot was very slow, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I have her other books.
I loved the setting—Nashville. The lights, the music, the energy was portrayed perfectly by Jennifer. I couldn’t get enough of the bar scenes and gigs that Bailey and Sam played. I felt like I was there and could hear the music pumping up the crowd. This was definitely the best part of the book. The description of the music and beat really brought the scenes to life.
The characters were hit and miss for me because they were so hot and cold. Sam was so sweet and great one minute, but the next he was a raging jerk. This doesn’t bother me too much usually, but I just felt like, while his temper could turn on and off, his feelings for Bailey shouldn’t. I wanted to see a more passionate, more truthful relationship emerge from them. Bailey just broke my heart. I hate the position her parents have put her in, and I understand that she got in lots of trouble in the past. However, that shouldn’t give her parents permission to treat her like she doesn’t exist. And furthermore, if they are going to treat her like she doesn’t exist, then they shouldn’t regulate what she can and can’t do. I wanted Bailey to give them the finger and just walk off! I had one of the most extreme angry reactions to her parents that I have ever had in any book.
As I said before, though, the plot was extremely slow. I was 120 pages in, and I felt like nothing had really happened. There was so much detail in the people that Bailey sees day to day that I felt like that’s all the book was at points. It definitely needed more action to keep me more interested. Perhaps if the romance was less broken, I would have had a better time with the progression.
While this wasn’t my favorite of Jennifer’s books, I still look forward to her next project. She is such an amazing writer, and even now, I find myself wanting to go back and re-read her past books. In fact, I just bought a hardback of Such A Rush—I think I might restart it today!
The beginning of Dirty Little Secret was... boring. I honestly didn't care for Bailey dressing up and playing her fiddle in tribute groups. But then she meets Sam at the mall, plays with him and he zones in on her. Now Bailey has to make a difficult decision, would she risk being seen as the loser sister of a rising star at a gig or cast her eyes down and carry on? This is when I saw life in Bailey and I was finally into the story.
Bailey accepts the gig because let's face it, spending time at home playing the fiddle endlessly with her grandfather hovering, who wants that? She made a perfect rebel with bold fashion sense, asymmetrical hair, red lips and boots-to-die-for, but she couldn't go on with it. Same gave her the out and she took it.
But the infamously titled Sam Hardiman's band is trouble from the start. Oh who am I kidding, Charlotte is hate-worthy. Given that the drummer had a thing for Sam and is still okay with being not okay with whoever Sam dates. Because you see, Sam likes Bailey. But does he like her because she gives the oomph factor to the band or because she is talented?
Sam started out as a pretty normal guy and then he became persuasive as hell and who'd have guessed from that that he was pretty messed up from the inside. So while I was out admiring his ability to make everyone do what he wants to do, I was also in the state where I just wanted to quietly strangle him.
But then Sam said, "I like doing things that make me uncomfortable. I try not to have a comfort zone" and everything was perfectly clear. After going through a hard family life and counselling, you have to admire the guy. And Bailey does. Their conversation is beautiful and where Sam is trying to make up for the lack of channeling his emotions, Bailey is trying to get away from them by writing them down into songs.
I understood Bailey because even though she got treated horribly by her family, she didn't give up on them. And I understood Sam because he wanted to not be like his father and wind up a loser. So they perform gigs together, discover each other, fight and then it all ends (not necessarily in that order). It was a moment of holding-my-breath-reading where you don't know what'll happen and how it'll all go down. It is a difficult feat to achieve but I was going through it so Echols did achieve it.
Dirty Little Secret more than surprised me and made me feel despite the rocky start. People who like to read music-themed YA must read this. You'll smile, go argh, get shocked and definitely swoon.