Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Dirty Little SecretDirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Page Count: 288
Published by: MTV Books
Source: eARC courtesy of publisher in exchange for an honest review

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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THIS is why I love reading Jennifer Echols books. Reading Dirty Little Secrets brought back all the warm fuzzies I had while reading (and re-reading) Going Too Far. However, I feel that no one will ever compare to Johnafter, and nothing will compare to the gosh darn cute and fun dialogue and super hot chemistry between John After and Meg. BUT... Dirty Little Secrets certainly made a grand attempt at capturing my heart in the same way.

I absolutely loved the beginning of Dirty Little Secrets. Bailey gets a job playing fiddle with other musicians while they roamed the mall and entertained shoppers. The musicians that Bailey was partnered with were hilarious and fun to read about. I also loved all of the musical references. I grew up listening to country music (back when it was still real country music) and I can still find some good country music out there that I enjoy. I also appreciated Bailey's ability to write songs - it really helped her to get her thoughts and feelings down on paper.

Bailey was my favorite character, and I thought she felt pretty real. She was angry, bitter, and confused, and I could really sympathize with her situation. The past year was rough for her and she didn't handle it well at all. I felt that most of her behavior was justified, but I thought she acted too immature at times, especially when dealing with her parents. In the end she made the right decision by sticking by her sister, so she gets bonus points for that. One of the things that I liked most about Bailey is her passion for music. Music is her heart and soul, and there were times when it seemed the music wanted to burst out of her and be heard. I also enjoyed reading about how much Bailey loved performing when she was younger AND when she had the opportunity to play with Sam and his band.

I am completely conflicted about Sam. Did I enjoy his character or not? Oh, I wanted to like him, and in the beginning it seemed he had it all - he was nice, funny, cute, caring, thoughtful, and charismatic. It was only after getting to know him better that he seemed a bit off. Maybe more than a bit. He had a lot going on under the surface that we only got a glimpse of. There were things in Sam's past that made him the way he is, yet he was unwilling to deal with his issues. Sam was a great musician and made no secret that he would do anything for a recording contract and a career in music. It comes to light that he is not such a stand up guy and has actually had some questionable behavior while trying to further his career. Sam ran so hot and cold, and I didn't like the way he treated Bailey as the story progressed. He was either all in with the charm or he was giving her the cold shoulder. His own ambition to make it in the music business was really a detriment in his relationships, especially with Bailey. I think that is what put me off him the most and why I couldn't invest in him and let myself care about him like I really wanted to. He definitely had some swoonworthy moments, but I don't know that he was completely trustworthy when it came to his feelings for Bailey.

Bailey and Sam's relationship was mostly cute, and I really enjoyed the back and forth dialogue between them. But I didn't fully trust Sam to do the right thing, and I thought his motives were suspect. I really wanted to love them as a couple, but they were lacking that special something that would have made them a true super couple.

One aspect of this book that I didn't completely buy into was the way Bailey's parents treated her. I thought the family relationship and drama really didn't feel true to life. There wasn't enough background information to support them choosing Julie's career over Bailey's, especially because up until the record deal they had only ever performed together. Her parents really inflicted a lot of pain and heartache on Bailey and made her feel worthless. I couldn't believe they sided with the record company and pushed Bailey so far away from her sister and the music that she loved. I could completely understand Bailey's resentment and jealousy of her sister because of it. I am also angry at Julie for being selfish and jumping at the chance to get a recording contract without her sister.

I really enjoyed reading Dirty Little Secrets, and I love Echols' writing. The pacing was perfect, and even though the main events take place in only a week's time, it has enough action and dialogue that it feels like it was longer. Echols managed to create a complicated relationship between complex and flawed characters that were well developed. This is a wonderful contemporary and another great addition to my growing Jennifer Echols library.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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