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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Catherine Summer Carlson lives her life as two separate people. At home, with the parents, she's Catherine. Catherine is the bright straight-A student on track to be the next big shot lawyer in her family. But elsewhere, she's Summer. Summer is a music junkie who excels at managing bands and has no interest in being a lawyer. She's recently been dumped by her band, Postcards From Ariel, due to an actual record label picking them up. She's on a mission to find a new group to manage and she knows she's hit gold when she finds Caleb Daniels singing and convinces him to start a new one. Falling for Caleb is the number one wrong thing to do as a manager but she can't help herself. Then Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father and things get really interesting. Suddenly she's right in the middle of some else's mystery. She knows that she needs to be on her professional best, but sometimes ignoring your heart is difficult to do and you're head will just have to live with the consequences. Can Summer sort out her life (as well as the band's) or is everyone doomed to failure?
I'll be completely honest. A big reason I downloaded this was because of the pretty cover. I read the synopsis and it sounded great (I love books about music), but it was that gorgeous, simplistic cover that really grabbed me. I also loved the idea of a male author writing a female perspective. In YA, it's mostly girls. Female authors writing mostly female characters. Female authors sometimes writing male characters, which is always a crapshoot because some female authors can't capture that male voice. It's always fascinating to read a male writing as a female because it's like "so, this is what they think of us, huh?" kinda vibes. I have to say that Emerson did a great job capturing the female voice. Many times when authors write outside their gender, it feels like a female trying to do a male voice or vice versa, but Emerson is not guilty of this.
Summer is a complex character. It's easy to sympathize with her because her band literally abandoned her after they signed with a record label and that includes her boyfriend, the frontman. Her love for music was something I could instantly relate to. I'll never be in the music business, but I totally get that need to disappear into the perfect song. She's smart and driven and completely determined to live out her dreams in the music industry, even if she can't bring herself to tell her parents that piece of information. She's also unfailingly human, making judgement errors and having insane moments of jealousy when other girls come on to Caleb. It really rooted her down to Earth.
I liked Caleb a lot, but sometimes I wasn't exactly a huge fan. He does some stupid things and treats Summer badly at moments when she really doesn't deserve it. I get that the guy is going through a lot and he's having a difficult time, but there are moments when other girls are blatantly flirting with him in front of Summer and he does nothing to reassure this girl who has already been dumped by one rocker boy who gained fame. He also shuts her out sometimes and that bugged me too. It was clear that he was a good guy, but his inner asshole shone through more often than I would like and the older I get, the more anti-asshole I become.
This was a compulsive read, with that just-one-more chapter addictive quality that we all look for in a book. I only had a few issues with it. The first one being that the dynamic between Summer & Caleb was very insta-lovey. They meet and then they are dating and serious almost immediately afterwards. It kinda throws you off. I do think that attraction happens immediately, but there was no dating period, just an immediate this is my girlfriend and the manager of the band I'm going to create thing. Then there was the fact that Summer feel into a similar situation that she has already been in. She was already the girlfriend/manager of a band and that didn't end well. Why would she jump back into the same situation? She has a few reservations, but she didn't really even hesitate before dating Caleb.
All things considered, this novel is pretty awesome, and I am impatiently awaiting it's sequel. Summer is a pretty awesome heroine, especially because of her imperfections. The plot and writing keep you going and wondering how exactly the light mystery will play out and if Caleb's band will be successful. If you love contemporary YA, books centered around music, or even just YA fiction, this is for you. Give it a try and you won't regret it!
****Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****