Sunday, April 7, 2013

Upcoming Release Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Expected Publication: July 16, 2013
Publisher: MTV Books

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…

My Thoughts
I’ve been waiting for years to come across something close to Jennifer Echols’s book Going Too Far. That story was filled with a perfect balance of chemistry and magic, and it remains to date one of my all-time favorite YA Contemporary books. Well, in Dirty Little Secret, Jennifer manages to remind me why I have her on my list of favorite authors. So, put on your cowboy boots and get ready to tip your hats because Jennifer Echols has a treat ready for you when you meet Bailey and Sam.

In this story, we get to learn how Bailey Mayfield has spent the last year of her life after her younger sister Julie, and one-time singing partner, landed a music contract without her. Witnessing her family take off to build Julie’s career as a country singer and host concerts and recording engagements has left Bailey trying to overcome the bitterness, hurt and sense of abandonment of being left in the shadows. See, Bailey is from Nashville, Tennessee which apparently is the country music capital of the world where the Grand Ole Opry stage is where country and bluegrass hopefuls such as Bailey hope to one day find themselves. (~whispers... I didn't know that~)

When she finally lands a mall gig, allowing her to play her fiddle with other country singers, she’s forced to keep her identity somewhat hidden. That becomes more difficult when Sam, Charlotte and Ace have her join their band and they begin to pack clubs and higher profile gigs. Bailey knows she’s going against her family’s demands of hiding in the shadows, and possibly risks the college funding they threaten to revoke, but she can’t seem to stop herself from doing what she loves.

Despite not being a fan of country music, that didn’t stop me from falling into the beat of this story and enjoying the journey. I did manage to learn a few things about this genre of music. For example, when these characters were talking about bluegrass, I quickly learned it wasn’t something you can add to your Jamba Juice. Overall, I enjoyed jams and fiddle show-downs that Bailey and her band entertained their audience with.

The secondary characters were a perfect blend to Bailey’s story. Despite being a bit skeptical of Sam, I couldn’t fault him for his actions. He was a great guy that was unabashedly flawed but honest about his intentions. He never fooled Bailey about what he hoped to accomplish and what he was willing to sacrifice to get there. He was comfortable in his own skin and always taking chances in the hopes of getting discovered.

“I like doing things that make me uncomfortable. I try not to have a comfort zone.”
Two of my favorite scenes were (1) the forehead slam and (2) Sam’s donation from his basking gig. Great moments that proved Echols casted the perfect characters for this book.

In addition, Bailey was such an easy character to fall for. Despite spending about a year or so upset that her sister got the opportunity that she hoped for herself, she was honest about her bitterness and jealousy. However, that didn’t stop her from still playing her fiddle and working the music circuit despite her family’s demand that she stay out of the limelight. She had some hard choices to make and some opportunities to rise to the occasion; and at the end of it all, I was a huge fan of hers.

Bailey Mayfield’s journey was a tough one filled with hurt and resentment. However, she proved to herself and others that all of the work to become a star, the frayed hopes, heartbreak and disappointments, she eventually found a way to write the lyrics to her own song and play according to her rules. Well done Echols! Pure bliss!
4 Snowflakes


  1. I am so reading this when it comes out. I read one book by the author and loved it, and by the sounds of your review this book is awesome!

  2. I am reading this right now, and you could not have put my thoughts into better words! I'm about ten percent through and already in love. You're making me want to drop all my blogging and school duties to read it right now!

    Gabbie @ Rampant Readers

  3. I have this one too and I can't wait to read it, I really like country music so this one sounds like a lot of fun. I am not normally a YA contemporary fan and I haven't read any of Echols other books but, I am really looking forward to trying this one out. Great review!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

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