Author: Jennifer Echols
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: MTV Books
Synopsis via Goodreads:
From the author of the "real page-turner" (Seventeen) Such a Rush comes an unforgettable new drama that follows friends-turned-lovers as they navigate the passions, heartbreaks, and intrigue of country music fame.
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…
Excerpt: "At first he didn't seem to notice I was looking at him. He didn't seem to concentrate on his music, either. His fingers moved automatically over the guitar strings, playing an old tune brought to the Appalachians from Scotland and written before the system of chords in Western music had been regularized, so it was full progressions that sounded strange to the modern ear. The chords were minor, as if the song were meant to be sad, but the lyrics were ironically upbeat. Sam wasn't singing them, but I knew the words. He stared into space, in my vicinity but beyond me, through me, like he was thinking hard about something else."
Brief Summary: Dirty Little Secret is all about Bailey's struggle to come to terms with the fact that the sister she once performed with now has a career of her own. Bailey's family has left her behind in order to support her sister, Julia's, solo career. Her parents and the record company are so paranoid that they decide to micromanage and smother Bailey so that she will not stand in the way or otherwise threaten Julia's success.
My Review: The words that come to mind after reading Dirty Little Secret are: Country. Music. Drama. All in the best way possible. I felt terribly for Bailey that her parents were so focused on Julia and her career that they want to control Bailey and keep her from the music that she loves. I spent about 80% of the novel despising her parents and being annoyed at Julia for seeming like a spoiled and insensitive brat. With Sam I was alternatively pleased with his loving and supportiveness of Bailey and infuriated with him for using Bailey in different ways. Charlotte tries to warn Bailey (kind of) about Sam's manipulative nature but Bailey is either unwilling or too stubborn to stay away. Despite all of the drama I actually really liked this book. The characters are real without seeming overused or cliche. The resolution of the novel seemed a bit too sudden for me. I would have liked for it to be established or filled out more. I don't think that Bailey's "dirty secret" was as dirty or secret as I was expecting and Sam overreacted to it. However this book was a great read and I like the movie-like flow and plot. Fans of country music or music in general will appreciate the mentions of Willie Nelson, Alan Jackson, and other singers. I give Dirty Little Secret 4 out of 5 stars and will definitely read this again.
About the Author
Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew 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 Readers' Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers' 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 will debut 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.