Blog Tour: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: MTV books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC from TLA and DRC from Netgalley
Status: Standalone

1. This ARC was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 2. Thanks to Shane from Itching for Books for setting up the blog tour! View the full tour schedule here.

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...

Wowza. I've loved Jennifer's books since I stumbled across Major Crush in Borders years ago so there's no surprise that I love every new release, but the surprise is how much I love each new release. Dirty Little Secret is a book I've been awaiting pretty eagerly, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. I mean, it's a Jennifer Echols's romance set in Nashville, which is like my second hometown. Every word written about Broadway and downtown Nashvegas? TRUTH. Every dang word. I got so nostalgic and homesick for Tennessee when reading Dirty Little Secret that I had to pull out some Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw and Country Strong just to make me feel better. Nashville is a character all on its own so I really like that Jennifer allowed it to be that way in the book as well.

Bailey is very remniscent of Jennifer's other heroines. I think she, Virginia, and Meg would definitely be good friends with their whole rebel-with-a-cause thing going. Basically, Bailey's absurd parents allowed her to get screwed over and then didn't even attempt supporting her like, oh, you know, normal parents would. Instead, they shuffle Bailey to the side like Mr. Rochester's wife in the attic and pretend that Julie is their prodigious only child. I'd say Bailey is well within her own rights to give them a little hell, which she certainly does. Her brand of rebellion is not my particular forte, but it really fits her character and her...I don't know, can I say journey without sounding like a contestant on The Bachelor? I like that Bailey recognizes her faults and mistakes. That's a kind of self-awareness that not every emotional teenage girl possesses, and it's utterly refreshing.

Then there's Sam. Let's all take a minute to compose and send grateful tweets to Jennifer for creating this fine speciman of boy. Don't get me wrong. I love Drew and Adam and Doug and Hunter and Grayson and the rest of Jen's boys, but there are two that stand above the rest: Johnafter and Sam. Oh, yes. I went there. Sam ooozes the same raw tough-guy-with-a-squishy-sensitive-inside-hidden-by-a-chiseled-David-esque-exterior appeal that made jaws (and other objects) drop when Johnafter was written into existence. So what does set Sam apart? His music (I can just imagine his voice and it's divine), his cowboy-ness, and his disconnection from life. It sounds weird, I know, but look: Sam is jaded because of his parents' relationship and his own with his dad, as well as the fact that he can't connect and commit to one girl for more than a couple weeks so he channels everything into his music and really, really intense make out scenes.

Speaking of the making out, I can't think of another writer who choreographs making out in/on a motorized vehicle as well as Jennifer. With Drew, it was a tractor with mentions of a hay-baler. Adam had the pink Vader truck. Doug had a cop car and then the backseat of a Mercedes. Johnafter had another cop car. Anyway, Sam has a truck and oh, what a beautiful moment to behold. Um, yes, please.

The supporting characters are pretty good, from Bailey's grandpa, who is a seriously awesome grandpa, to Sam's seemingly nice-guy dad, until you get the 411, to Charlotte and Ace, the remaining members of the band. Charlotte does her job well at being a kind of antagonist to Bailey so props, but I still don't like her. It's okay because you're not really supposed to. Ace was probably my favorite simply because he's like the voice of truth and reason. Like a young, hot Morgan Freeman. Ace is the force that keeps the others, all extremely high-strung, grounded and focused on the important things. I would want to hang out with Ace in real life because I could really use a guy like him.

I know there are many out there who just aren't into Jennifer's books like I am. Well, let's face it. Probably everybody isn't because I consider myself a Jennifer Echols superfan. But Jennifer's books aren't just pretty white girls with problems and sexy guys and hot make out scenes. There's real heart in them and real heartbreak. The romance isn't consuming and soul-crushing the way some stories are written because those aren't entirely authentic. Dirty Little Secret is. At the heart of it, Sam and Bailey have to decide if they can compromise on one huge issue or if it's too big to handle and their feelings aren't enough to make up for that. Life can suck because there truly are factors that sometimes can't be compromised, and I absolutely love that Jennifer explored that while having a ball writing about amateur teen musicians strutting around my Music City. So go read it. It's fun, it's sexy, it's real.

Book Links:

About the Author:
Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and great 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 Reader's Choice Award, and the drama Going Too Far, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Reader's 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 has debuted 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.

Author Links:
I am still hosting TWO giveaways for Dirty Little Secret: one for US/Canada only, the other international only. My giveaway is open until 12 AM July 10 so get those entries in in the next two days. All details and entry here.

THIS rafflecopter is the tour-wide giveaway hosted by Itching for Books. I am NOT in charge. If you win, you'll be contacted by Shane. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway