Reviewed by Kini
Everyone knows her face. He knows her heart.
Emerson Quinn is famous. Girls want to be her. Boys want to date her. Each record outsells the last. All that remains is to continue transitioning her brand from its teenage fan base to a more mature, diverse audience. So she’s under strict orders to play nice with her army of assigned co-songwriters and to knock off the serial dating that keeps landing her in the tabloids. If she follows instructions, she can look forward to an indefinite run at the top of the celebrity ecosystem. There’s only one problem with this plan: Emerson is miserable.
So she runs away, impulsively fleeing her L.A. life and heading for a small Iowa college town where a guy she once knew lives. He’s the only person in the world she can think of who might be enough of a nerd to not know about Emerson Quinn the brand. Who might be willing to provide a haven where she can lay low and write her new album by herself, on her own terms.
Art history professor Evan Winslow knows a thing or two about leaving your past behind. He’s worked hard to establish himself far from the spotlight of his infamous father. He’s up for tenure soon, which will mean job security for life. All he has to do to lock down his hard-won, blessedly quiet existence is keep his head down.
Too bad the most famous pop star in the world—who also happens to be his long-lost muse—has just shown up on his doorstep.
I’ve been in a reading slump. My last few books have been mostly meh. That’s a very fancy descriptor for not great, not horrible. I was excited to get this ARC, but put off reading it because I am a last minute reviewer and the above mentioned meh reads make it hard to want to pick up another book for fear that it will be another book that is just okay or okayish. I am happy to report that this book broke my slump. It was cute and fun and with an appropriate amount of angst and heaviness.
Emmy is a famous pop-star but she feels trapped. It isn’t a woe is me type of thing, but more she isn’t surrounded by people who seem to have her best interest at heart. She needs a break from her fast-paced life. She previously met Evan at a wedding when she was only 19. They had a connection, but he is 7 years older and he put the breaks on to prevent anything physical from happening. But seven years later she shows up on his doorstep because he even in that short time, he made her feel like she mattered. She got famous after they met the first time and they’ve have no contact since the wedding.
Evan is surprised to see her and quickly forces her to explain why she is there. He allows her to stay but only conditionally. He is averse to fame and attention and he asks her to keep an incredibly low profile. But he quickly falls for her and her magic as she discovers what it is like to be a “real girl.”
This book is kind of sweet, with some slow burn romance and some amazing tension between the two, and then when we finally get to the sexy times, it is scorching.
This tension though-
“Fuck, Emmy,” he muttered before turning and straddling the chaise. It had the effect of removing any contact between them, and she was about to register her displeasure when he pressed a hand on each of her ankles. Grabbed them, really, circling them with his wrists. He was still for a long moment with his hands around her ankles. It was too dark to read his face. His hands, heavy and hot, were shackles. She wanted them to stay there, but she also wanted them to move up, up toward the center of her body, to her core, which was on fire, throbbing as surely as the pulse in her throat, which was beating so frantically she had to press a hand to her neck and will herself to breathe.
And Evan is a bit of a dirty talker.
“We’re going to play a game,” he said. “Are you ready?” She nodded, trying to calm her heart. He kept his hand over her mouth as he spoke. “This is what’s going to happen. I’m going to eat you out. I’m going to feast on you, actually.” An involuntary whimper escaped, even with his hand over her mouth. “And you’re going to lie there and take it, and you’re not going to make a sound.” He stared at her silently for a moment, and she was sure she was blushing so intensely that she was glowing red, even in the dark. “Okay?” he asked.
A major theme of the book is safety, not so much physical safety, but emotional safety and feeling safe to be their true selves. Emmy was kicked out of her home when she was 17. Her current managers don’t listen to her. Her previous boyfriends have taken advantage of her. Evan’s father is a criminal. He is up for tenure at the college where he teaches. Both are living a life where they don’t feel truly safe. And of course, with each other they find that safety and security they were each missing but didn’t realize that it what it was. It was lovely to read their progression to that place with each other.
There are lots of other things happening with some side characters that kept me entertained. I love when the MC’s don’t live in a bubble where nothing or no one else exists. The author did a great job of incorporating secondary characters. I predicted what would cause the big conflict/big misunderstanding and thankfully the emotional outburst attached seemed fairly appropriate. However, I felt like maybe it happened a little too quickly and kind of off page. I would have liked to have seen them deal with that a little more. It was kind of off page and fade to black. It was probably my biggest quibble with this book. I would have liked to have seen more of Emmy and Evan dealing with their conflict. The other thing I felt was drawn out too long was the conflict that Emmy had with her managers. I wanted Emmy to realize her power in that situation much sooner.
I really enjoyed this book. It was all the right mix of sweet and sexy with some angst and a lot of heart. I had a lot of things highlighted that I liked and wanted to remember. As some might say, the prose was great and really pulled me into the story. It was descriptive, but not too much. She wrote a story and characters with some struggle and pain that I felt, but not bogged down by. I look forward to reading the next book in this series.