Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Romances With Musical Elements » Mini-Reviews #3

I've been on a romance novel kick! I get into these grooves sometimes, where I just want to read about people falling in love. It's heartwarming! However, romance novels can also be low-quality books at times. You really have to go digging for love stories that fit your preference. So I got out my shovel and went excavating. In this post, I'll be sharing my thoughts about four romance novels that all share something in common... I found them all on a Goodreads Listopia about ROCKSTARS.

[book-info number="1"]

It's hard to believe that I've gone this long without reading this romance staple, let alone any Abbi Glines. For some reason, I thought I wouldn't like Fallen Too Far! It turns out, I was right! I didn't.

Let me discuss the good stuff first. In the beginning, I really enjoyed the main character, Blaire. She's very sympathetic, coming off years of caring for her terminally ill mother. Paying for cancer treatments cleaned Blaire out, so upon her mother's death, the young woman reaches out to the father who had abandoned her. It's that, or become homeless. But Blaire's dad is out of the country with his new wife. So instead, Blaire must accept the help of Rush, her wealthy stepbrother.

I found it both compelling and inspirational how Blaire both reaches out for help AND works her tail end off to become independent. Her work ethic was completely admirable. I think I could have read a whole book about nothing but Blaire working and becoming stabilized financially. Unfortunately, that's not the way the book went.

Fallen Too Far is ultimately a romance novel, and I didn't like the love interest whatsoever. Rush had no personality. He was a shell made out of abdominal muscles. His top activities were throwing house parties, following Blaire to her work at the country club, and acting like an erratic asshole. I hated him.

The more Blaire fell in love with that douche-lord, the more I disliked her as well. By the time the end of Fallen Too Far came around, I was sick of both of them. Suffice it to say that I won't be revisiting Rosemary Beach in the future.

Music Levels: None

Fallen Too Far is included on some booklists for having a musical element, but it was negligible. Rush's money comes from his dad, who was a drummer in a famous rock band. That's all. No one actually makes music or listens to music in this book. The most "rockstar" thing that happens is that Rush puts on eyeliner to go to a honky tonk bar...

[book-info number="2"]

In the Band was a decent romance novel, but it suffered from a sub-par love interest as well. Our romantic hero is literally named Romeo, but he was far from love-god status.

Our heroine, Riley, was top-shelf, however. I loved how she was an amazing drummer. I was brimming full of girl-power pride, reading about how Riley tore up people's stereotypes and expectations, and blew everyone away with her amazing musical talent and dedication. Also impressive was her love for her little sister. Riley gives up quite a lot, personally, to give her sister a better childhood, and it made her into character who I rooted for utterly. (However, by the end of the book, it did seem like Riley gave up too much.)

Romeo, however, didn't seem to get the memo that Riley is a superior life form. He spends the majority of the book being a huge jerk to her. The reason behind his foul behavior is ultimately lame. It couldn't be more obvious that their enemies-to-lovers story was a poorly thought out construction by the author. At the beginning, the device worked. I was hugely invested in flipping the pages to find out what the dude's beef was. The ultimate reasoning wound up being unsatisfactory, however. Maybe, for me, there couldn't be any decent reason behind Romeo's asshole-ery.

Overall, I liked In the Band, but it had some definite issues.

Music Levels: Medium

In the Band doesn't go into technicals at all, but it gets major points for having tons of scenes where the musicians are at practice, or playing gigs. So often, romances featuring music don't have true musical detail at all. Jean Haus, our author, was a step above here, putting effort into making Riley's passion and hard work believable.

[book-info number= "3"]

The Duet started off fairly strong, but fizzled out for me somewhere in the middle. In this book, a pop princess is assigned by her record label to write a duet with a darker singer-songwriter and preform it with him at the Grammy's. Upon meeting, Brooklyn and Jason immediately loathe each other, despite their mutual physical attraction. Despite it all, they decide to spend a month at Jason's Montana ranch, composing the song.

The more I look back at The Duet, the more I dislike where the plot went. The ranch house should have been a smaller aspect of the book. Instead, it took over the story. The book felt at many points like one of those modern Western romances, where the rich girl is sent to a cattle farm and meets a cowboy, etc. etc. etc. It was like the author was just grabbing at whatever romance tropes she could find and sticking them together with dollar store craft glue.

Music Levels: Low

This is my main beef with The Duet. Despite the female and male lead BOTH being successful musicians, you'd hardly know it because we get almost no detail about their careers apart from aspects of their fame. When it came to music composition, the characters' sparse writing sessions were laughable. I'm no musician at all, but even I could tell that the "technicals" were unrealistic in the extreme. The only musical term that Grey uses is "chords." Also "G-string," but you might guess how that was incorporated into the tale. And why the hell would it take two musicians a month in seclusion to write a song? Just wacky.

[book-info number= "4"]

The Mighty Storm had a great romantic premise and started off strong. Trudy, our main character, is a music journalist based in London. She comes from a musical background, with her dad, an ex-rocker, nourishing her childhood with lots of love and plenty of rock history. Also a recipient of that love and those music lessons was Jake, the neighbor kid, who was Trudy's best friend throughout their childhood and early teens. However, at 14, Jake had to move abroad with his family and lost touch with Trudy. But years ago, Jake rose to stratospheric fame with his band, The Mighty Storm. When the book opens, Trudy is assigned to interview Jake, throwing the two ex-friends together for the first time in twelve years.

Obviously the two are going to reconnect and fall in love! Duh! Our job as readers isn't to wonder if, just to wonder, how. Let me tell you, though, that how was pretty rocky. There were lots of theatrics and plenty of drama. Sometimes it got tiring, I have to admit. Neither Trudy nor Jake were incredibly mature. But damn, if one aspect of their ups and downs didn't get to me... [spoiler]It was Jake's drug use. At one point, a chapter ends with the couple happy and incandescently in love. The next chapter begins with, "He's using again." I know that this book is a somewhat silly romance novel, but reading about how drug use just demolished happiness and functionality hit me hard. [/spoiler] I surprised myself by getting legitimately torn up over that part of the book.

Overall, I don't know if I can recommend The Mighty Storm. I enjoyed it a lot... when I wasn't rolling my eyes hard. I know that the book had big issues, but I made a personal decision to ignore them and get swept up in the ride.

Music Levels: Low

Unfortunately, Trudy's love of music, which comes out strongly in the beginning of the book, wanes when she gets swept up in her romance. That was a shame. It would have been amazing if the author had incorporated more legit jam talk into the story. As for the band dynamic in The Mighty Storm, we don't get any music talk from or about them, either. It was a bit of a bummer. Like The Duet, the musician angle seems to be more about fame and fortune than about actual, you know, music.

Out of these four books, In the Band had the best depiction of actual musicians who play actual instruments. However, I liked what The Mighty Storm was trying to achieve — an epic love saga. The Duet and Fallen Too Far were both flops for me, although they each had some redeeming elements.

All in all, reading these books was great fun, but none of the writing stood out as really skillful. I'll have to keep digging. ;P


  1. I'm not sure I've ever read a romance actually. Oops? But the musical element is so cool! Too bad the first book here didn't really have one!

  2. Doesn't look like either of these were really wow reads for you, that's too bad. I hope your next one is a great one. ;)

  3. None of them were overall WOWs it's true, but they did have WOW moments. The beginning of the The Mighty Storm was super engaging. I was glued to the book! And the girl power in In the Band was awesome. I also loved how hard Blaire worked in Fallen Too Far. But yeah, overall, they failed to really impress.

  4. No romance novels ever?! Woah! Lol, they're not for everyone to be sure!

  5. If I were to pick any of these up it my be In the Band - mostly because I was actually in band... I am listening to an audiobook that could loosely fit in here, Kill the Boy Band. It has a great dark sense of humor. :)