This is part of the book blog tour for Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols, organized by Shane at Itching for Books.
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…
What will you do if your parents tell you to hide yourself and stop doing what you love even when you’ve done nothing wrong?
That’s what Bailey goes through when her sister signs the solo deal with the record company. Bailey feels betrayed and abandoned. While she knows she can still get new training to pursue a different career path, she loves music and she doesn’t want to stop writing songs or give up playing her fiddle. When she meets Sam and his band, she knows she should stay away but she doesn’t want to because she misses the thrills that she feels when she plays her fiddle in front of a live audience. Will she get into big trouble when her parents find out what she’s doing?
The story touches on quite a number of issues – rivalry, sex, denial, guilt, responsibility, selfishness and passion – and while many are heavy-duty subjects that one cannot easily define a clear scope of analysis about what one should or shouldn’t do, witnessing the choices that Bailey, Sam and the other characters make helps me understand why it’s never easy to placate and please everybody. Are Bailey’s parents wrong to want Bailey’s sister to have a successful singing career? Is Sam heartless or calculating to want to use Bailey to help him gain access into the music industry? Is Bailey a bad person because she is jealous of her sister? Who would one become when the choice to pursue what’s desired is being taken away?
Dirty Little Secret portrays a believable story about tough choices, unintended let-downs, as well as unforeseeable opportunities and oh-so-heartwarming tender moments. As a blog tour host today, I’m going to share an excerpt from the book with you. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
Excerpt from Dirty Little Secret
By Jennifer Echols
from Chapter Eight
As I reached the corner and scanned Broadway down the hill, I headed for the biggest crowd on either side of the street. I could picture Sam drawing a crowd all alone with his guitar.
As I moved closer, I didn’t hear him playing or singing, yet nobody in the crowd was moving on down the sidewalk like they’d heard enough. They were staying put. I could picture Sam convincing people to stay put.
I tried to push through to reach him and show him I wanted to play with him before he started his next song. That would smooth over everything we’d said to each other the night before. I wouldn’t give in and join his band. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t start a relationship with him, either, if he asked. That was crazy. But we could play on Broadway every Sunday afternoon for a while, until Julie got famous and somebody recognized me as her sister. Before that happened, I would get my fix of playing with him. We would do fine if we could just play together and never had to speak.
But before I could find a hole in the crowd, the strains of his mellow acoustic guitar glided above the heads of the crowd. I would have thought from the intro and the chord progression that he was attempting Alan Jackson’s “Remember When,” which was in G, but he was in C.
The next second he was singing “Remember When” after all.
He’d smartly taken the key up half a scale because his voice was higher than Alan Jackson’s. One thing I had to give Sam: he knew his own voice and how to box his weight.
While his voice urged me forward, the lyrics of the song gave me pause. The narrator was a teenager, losing his virginity with the girl he loved. I backed through the second row and then the third, my hand going sweaty on the handle of my fiddle case. In the next verses, he and the girl got married. Their parents died. They fought. There was supposed to be a guitar solo here with a gradual modulation from the key of G to the key of A, which in Sam’s version went from C to D. The original song was full of expressive violins, and he could have used me here. But he didn’t have me.
To his credit, he didn’t try to replicate that slow solo but marched quickly through the chords to land at his destination, never losing his audience, and resumed his lyrics. In these verses, he and his wife had children and mellowed out. They grew older and their children moved away, but they vowed never to have any regrets about their lives coming to an end because they were so in love.
At this point tears stung my eyes. For once I hadn’t been concentrating on Sam’s notes and whether he was in key. I’d been listening to his words. The people all around me had, too.
Middle-aged women’s eyes filled with tears. Men put their arms around their wives’ shoulders, all for a song so vague that it applied to everyone — everyone in a joyful relationship, that is — because even the happiest couple experienced sadness as time passed. And all sung by an eighteen-year-old boy who couldn’t possibly know what he was talking about, and who was treating this public street and free audience as practice. Yet I was moved, and so were they.
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