This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on September 17, 2013
An Ex-Rocker and a Librarian? I just couldn’t resist. Me and those opposite attracts stories that aren’t so opposite after all in the end. Once I got going in this book, I kept wondering what I was reading. It was so many things at different points of the story and when I began I had a very different opinion about how I would feel about this book from then to the point of when the back cover closed on it.
I’m going to deviate from my usual summary and share a bit of my impressions as I read through the book instead because I don’t want someone to come along, think they mistook where the story was going, and quit or worse get disappointed or angry because of skewed expectations.
When the story opens, it has the feel of some of those women’s fiction stories where the woman has gone through a tragedy and in ways is still back there in the past not letting it go. It’s all first person narrative and the heroine, Kat is really stuck in her head putting on a good face for those around her. We get flashbacks and panic attacks. She hits rock bottom and must find a way to claw her way back out. Kat has run home to the small town she grew up in just north of NYC with her little daughter. She has her girl power group of friends who’ve known each other since grade school chatting over the weekly gourmet coffee meets at the cafe and inter-mingling in small town life. No secrets in love and war stuff and really trying to get the heroine back in the saddle. Hey, there’s even the former HS jock guy who hasn’t changed at all since he hurt her the first time back in the day and still thinks he’s God’s gift to women.
Then it gets a bit Meg Ryan-style sweet romance when Adrian enters the picture. Kat fell in love with his voice on a children’s CD and really wants to get him for her library children’s music program day. It takes some doing and a slight misunderstanding, but Adrian comes. And she realizes that Adrian is a bit more than he seems with his rocker appearance though a bit toned down and his dishy Brit accent and blend of smart-butt and sweet. He is a fan favorite with the kids particularly Kat’s daughter, Abbey, but he’s an even bigger hit with Kat. The pace is gentle and flowing slowly at this point. They tentatively start the relationship and its all about spending time with the friends, eating out, walking through the city, hanging out with her daughter, but it’s all really gentle. It was an authentic pace for a romance. No insta-love here folks. It almost deliberately avoids the conflict that you just know is headed for them like an F-5 in cyclone season. Through all this, there is a non-stop parade of awesome food through the scenes. It should come with a warning label about not reading it on an empty stomach or something like that.
From there, when Kat stumbles onto one of Adrian’s biggest secrets and nearly ends their relationship because he lies (ouch, hypocrite much, Kitty Kat), he takes her on a tumultuous journey through his past broken into segments mixed with the continued interludes with her friends and Abbey. It was neat how each tattoo on his body is a milestone. As his story is revealed, Kat feels like she fell down the rabbit hole and all the time her own past is putting pressure on their relationship and pressuring her that it needs to be told. The relationship at this point has taken a decided sultry turn. There’s still a bit of a fade to black quality to it, but trust me people, you’ll have no trouble imagining what these two get up to and all that they experience while they’re at it.
And then as if to pay me back for my impressions that this was so devoid of conflict and deep emotion- touching stuff, big things go down and I just sat there with my mouth open and my brain on that ‘say it isn’t so’ loop. It wasn’t a shock because I saw it coming, but I was lulled into complacency by my absolute love and adoration for this couple together particularly Adrian (budge over Kat). From this point to the end, every component in the story took it up several notches to fever pitch. I felt like a head banger at a rock concert on an adrenaline-high that was Adrian and Kat, that was a huge comeback for two very vulnerable and damaged people, for friendships, and for making peace with the past. Just fantastical! By the way? There is the big concert and the backstage pass experience.
So if you’re the type that gets impatient with angsty heroines who are hot messes or the girlfriends sharing their lives over coffee-stuff, just hang in there. If you need more than just sweet and bittersweet memories stuff, again, stick with it. If you mutter and practically wrestle with a book character because you can see quite clearly that their actions are going to ruin everything, no worries. She does eventually grow and Adrian proves he’s the man I just knew he really was. And the end? So worth it. I had such a huge grin on my face that my cheeks hurt when all was said and done. Oh, and this is without every last bit tied up in a cutesy bow. Not that it was screaming sequel, but just that it left room for some things that truly do take time or might never happen that surrounded the main plot.
Now, for my dilemma…I usually like to point out who I’m recommending the book for. I could say Contemporary Romance fans who are intrigued by an aged rocker and a widowed librarian should try it, but then I also think Women’s fiction and Chick Lit lovers would be good candidates for a recommend too. Okay, well it is a romance, but it’s also a story of healing and second chances so if that’s your cuppa then go for it.
My thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for providing my copy of the book for review purposes.