Publisher: Hooder & Stoughton
Release Date: November 24th, 2022
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley. Views remain my own.
This book was so close to hitting five stars, and nothing makes me more frustrated than when the book I’m reading is so good up to a point, then dips in quality around the midpoint.
The premise of this is great, the characters start off really strong, but from about halfway until the end I found myself wishing things would just hurry up. There’s only so many times a character can storm off-page before I’m exhausted by them.
Sadie and Max are both looking for their big Nashville break, and appear on the reality singing show Starmaker as contestants. Sadie has wanted to make it as a singer ever since she was a kid, and moved to Nashville at her gran’s encouragement to try and build a career. Max is the son of a country legend, a Nashville prince, but wants to break out on his own and show the world he’s more than that. The pair can’t stand each other, but when they’re paired up for duet week, fans lap it up, and the producers encourage them to fake a relationship until their final performance.
Fake dating! Reality TV! Nashville! I was so excited to dig into this and I absolutely loved falling into Sadie and Max’s journey. Until they exhausted me. More and more I feel like I’m picking up books that are longer than they need to be, that become repetitive and require a bit more cutting down. This definitely could have done with one less misunderstanding between the main couple, especially as the misunderstandings all seemed to be…basically the same thing.
One of the producers on the show is a sleaze. Not only that, but his behaviour is an open secret around Nashville. Okay, fair, realistic. He owns a restaurant that suffers from a series of food poisonings, with a slew of lawsuits in its wake. By the midway point, I was finding myself baffled about why anyone would want to work with him. Max consistently sees this producer and Sadie in situations he misunderstands, and although she clears the air the first one…two…three times…he still can’t use his own logic to realise what’s really happening, even though he knows full well what this producer is like!
There’s also moments where situations felt way too forced, where it felt like ideas were kind of running out for how to keep them away from each other. I found myself just wishing they would hurry up, whereas usually I kind of like when couples have different obstacles in their way. I like seeing the ways different authors keep couples apart and how they resolve their issues, but here…it’s never really resolved. Max never gets over himself and doesn’t really grow as a character, and Sadie faces so many different issues yet never actually confides in him which, honestly, if you don’t feel you can discuss ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE with your partner, that’s a huge red flag. Max is toxic, unsupportive and immature, and by the end I was almost hoping Sadie would leave him in the dust. That maybe would have been more satisfying.
It really is a shame this fell as flat as it did, but a meandering plot that doesn’t go anywhere and lack of character development left me feeling the blues.