Secondhand Heart by Kristen Strassel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was lucky enough to beta read this for Kristen a few months ago (now several months). I haven’t read the final version yet, so this review is based strictly on the version I read.
Daisy’s story begins on her birthday. The first birthday she’s celebrated since her husband died. And, as expected, she’s not doing so well. She’s a young widow, who’s suddenly faced with starting her life over again and she doesn’t know where to begin. All of the plans she had for the future fell apart with Jordan’s death. On top of that, she’s living with her parents and dealing with her mother’s constant judgement.
Cam is a former winner of the singing competition The Spotlight. He was well on his way to becoming the next big country star, but recently his career has started to fizzle and questions about how he actually won the competition are surfacing. He’s moved to town and opened up his own country bar, which is where the two meet.
Daisy is an amazing and complex character. I really related to what she was going through. Not just her grief, but also her insecurity and the helplessness one feels when they’re not sure where their life is going.
Cam is sexy as hell. And sweet. I don’t usually go for the country thing but damn does he make it look good! He and Daisy meet and yes, it does get pretty steamy, but it doesn’t detract from the story. They’re great together. Exactly what the other needs as they both work through grief and the unexpected turns their lives have taken. And on top of this being a really sweet, hot, wonderful story about two wounded people falling it love it also has some twists and tension and tragedy as Daisy and Cam deal with their family, friends, and Cam’s ex-wife.
4 out of 5 stars because although I really liked the story, there were some things I thought needed expanding or a little work. I won’t say what because I don’t want to give too much away. I will definitely reread this once it comes out! I can’t wait to see what changes Kristen’s made. I have total faith in her and I fully expect to love the final version even more!
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The Trouble With Bree by Kristen Strassel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bree Farrell is hell bent on making her childrens’ lives and her own better. With a string of bad ex-boyfriends behind her, her first step is to swear off men. Second, is to enroll in online college courses. Well, she get’s the second step down, but the first runs into a little trouble when she meets the damn near irresistible Josh Maxwell.
Josh has just gotten a new job as the coordinator of a preschool for underprivileged kids. The school took a chance on him, hiring him without really any experience, so the last thing he needs is to get involved with a student’s mother. But sometimes the risk is worth it.
I loved Bree and Josh’s relationship. What I loved about this novella and their relationship was that it didn’t feel like a soap opera. Bree nor Josh are the typical leads you’d ordinarily find in romance novels. They’re real people and their relationship felt very real and organic to me. This is what a real relationship looks like in the real world. And I loved that quality to the story.
And as always with Strassel’s work, the writing flowed and the dialog was well done. Oh, and if any of you happen to be fans of her Night Songs Collection series there’s a little nod in there to the vamps in Vegas. I’m so glad she did that. I love it when an author stays in their own world and references it in other seemingly unrelated series. It’s like watching a movie/reading a book and hearing someone say the name of it.
I loved everything about The Trouble With Bree, except one thing. I wish Bree had gotten her own story. I think she had more than enough material to have warranted a full length novel. This novella just felt like an aside to Secondhand Heart. I guess all novellas that are part of a series kind of are asides, but they usually benefit from leaning on the main stories. This time I feel like it limited it. That being said, fair warning, the timeline of this novella coincides with Secondhand Heart’s timeline (the first in The Spotlight series). It definitely spoils the events in Secondhand Heart, so if you’re the type of person who likes to read a novella from a series before they decide if they want to dive into it, you’re probably not going to want to do that with this one.
4 out of 5 stars to The Trouble With Bree. Bring on the next Spotlight novel, Strassel. I’m ready.
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Too Many Reasons by Kristen Strassel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Too Many Reasons is the second novel in The Spotlight Series. The main character, Abby, is the manager of Sinister Riot and BFFs with main singer Devon. Abby and Devon have been friends for years. They started the band together; with the band’s talent and Abby’s dedication they’re finally getting a record deal. One catch, Eli Jamison. He was one of the previous winners of The Spotlight and the record label decides yes, they’ll sign Sinister Riot but only if they take him.
This creates some tension in the band, mainly because of Eli’s interest in Abby. You see, Abby is head over heals in love with Devon and pretty much everyone knows it. Problem is, Devon doesn’t see Abby that way. At least, not until Eli comes along. Abby and Eli start dating. She becomes torn between being loyal to Eli and her love for Devon. Abby’s life and things with the band start falling apart. What’s she supposed to do?
I loved this book. Even more than Secondhand Heart, the first in the series. Kristen Strassel kept me tense. The characters are realistic and really come into their own as the book progresses.
Now this book is a sequel, so is it necessary to read Secondhand Heart before this one? No, I don’t think so. Strassel does reference the happenings of the first book late into this one and even though it is a bit of a spoiler, I don’t think it’ll ruin the book for you. Both books in the series stand alone very well. But do I recommend you read Secondhand Heart? Well yeah. Read that book. Read this book! If you want steamy rock n roll romance you won’t regret it!
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*Will update this post with new reviews as more Spotlight books are published.
*Secondhand Heart and Too Many Reasons reviews are for the versions I beta read. Will update (if necessary) when published versions are read.