Series: Kylie Ryans #2
Published by Independent on August 27th 2013
An up and comer trying to make a name for herself...
KYLIE never expected to be stuck on a tour bus with a pampered princess and her boyfriend’s ex.
A troubled artist struggling to hold onto his career...
TRACE thought he was finally getting to do things his way. Until the label added co-headliner Gretchen Gibson, the only person in country music with more issues than him, to his No Apologies tour.
Surrounded by tabloid rumors and people they can't trust, Kylie and Trace need each other more than ever. But the choices they make will change everything.
Because chasing your dreams and following your heart don’t always lead you to the same place…
In my review of Girl with Guitar I admitted that I probably would have bypassed the book because I’m a bit of a YA teeny bopper and my relationship with NA has been…tense lol but this crazy group of girls on Twitter stole my heart and together we formed a little coterie of mayhem called #GwB (Girls with Books) and Girl with Guitar became our first group read.
Now I was not the biggest country fan before this…I mean Ireland went through the “Garth Brooks” craze in the early 90’s with the line dancing…oh lord the line dancing but up until now I’m been an urban/pop chick. Since GIRL WITH GUITAR I now know who Luke Bryan, Hunter Hayes and Rascal Flatts are, I *own* their albums, I watch Nashville religiously and I’ve been promised an affair with a cowboy (Jessica promised this) and a Southern Gentleman husband (Looking at you Tonya!) and I plan to collect! So let me first just shake my fist at Caisey Quinn ever so gently and on with the review…
In Girl with Guitar we’re introduced to Kylie – just a small town girl (I won’t do it, I won’t quote Journey this time…ya’ll are totally singing it tho, It’s in your head mwahahahahahaha…oh hell “LIVING IN A LONELY WORLD!!!).
Grieving the death of her father, she packs up her life, moves to Nashville and through a stroke of luck ends up touring with country music star and resident asshole (I can say this because I was a fan from the start) Trace Corbin. Trace and Kylie don’t get off to the best start or middle or pretty much end but through all the drama and emotion they find they can’t live without each other and a new country music power couple is born!
When we meet them in Girl on Tour, Kylie is preparing to go out on tour with two other up and comer’s – Lily, a Taylor Swift style cherub and Mia, a former American Idol winner with a chip on her shoulder and founder of the “I hate Kylie Ryans fan club”. Trace is sitting in the Last Chance Saloon. His bad boy behaviour has finally caught up to him and his record company is giving him one more tour. If he screws this up – his career is over. The addition of Gretchen Gibson – Country Music’s bad girl who’s in a similar predicament puts a spanner in the works. Can you smell that? No not the whiskey…the DRAMA!
Despite the career troubles – Trace and Kylie are in a good place. Literally from page one of the prologue the chemistry sizzles more than a Summer time cook out. I love the passion that Trace and Kylie have for each other. Despite their age difference and relative experience you can tell it’s a first time love groove for both of them. It’s all encompassing and Quinn really makes the blood roar in your ears as you read about their “exploits”.
For all the passion tho there’s always the threat of heartbreak. This book was intense for me, it was triggering in a way and I really felt emotional reading it. I expected a book full of romance and I did get that but Quinn added a deeper level of emotion as we are thrust into the pain and heartbreak that addiction causes to both the person suffering from it and the people affected by their behaviour.
On first glance Trace is an asshole – personally I never felt that about him. Maybe it was because of my own personal history dealing with the trauma and pain that alcoholism brings on a family but I recognised the behaviours instantly and I was put squarely into Kylie’s shoes as she tries desperately to solve things and prays that she can be the one to pull Trace out of his darkness.
The devastating thing about addiction is you can’t save the person. They have to save themselves and it’s not about you – it’s about them. Instead of being angry with Trace, I only felt sympathy and was rooting and willing for him to recognise what was happening and be strong enough to pull through. This is why I really liked Gretchen. While I do think the “They understand what I’m going through because they’re going through it too” is a cop out in situations like these, no-one should have to apologise for not being weak, I did like that Trace had Gretchen as a mirror, the reflection may have been fuzzy at times but when the mist cleared the image showed Trace that in order for his love for Kylie to survive and for him to be a better man he needed to take care of business. Helping Gretchen cleared the road blocks in his mind so as a reader I’m grateful for her character and not going down the road of “Ugh she’s just a skanky bitch”
I adore Kylie despite the fact that she frustrates the hell out of me at times. I love her confidence in her opinions and the fact that she won’t compromise herself for anyone although I did want to shake her when she attempted to do that for Trace to keep the peace. I want her to be the person her daddy knows she is so she can become the strong, passionate woman full of awesome that she’s slowly learning to be as she shrugs off her youthful naivety.
I loved the sisterly dynamic she developed on the bus with Lily and Mia. I thought they were great additions to Kylie’s world, Mia in particular. As much as Gretchen was a mirror image of Trace, I felt that Mia was Kylie’s – both stubborn, strong, fearless – they’ve dealt with pain and heartbreak and while they don’t escape unscathed, their scars are badges of honour and the friendship they may loathe to admit is developing will only make both of them even more awesome than before.
This review got a little deep but this book touched me on a level beyond the glamour, the sex and the romance, it helped me to work through some pain of my own and great literature does that so I’m grateful for Quinn and Kylie and Trace for touching my heart in a way I never thought a New Adult Contemporary would.
One final thought –
“I was broken. Dead inside,” she whispered. “You made me feel alive”
Kylie’s admission here that the hopelessness she felt at the beginning of Girl with Guitar kills me as it is mirrored in the hopelessness that Trace feels now. Kylie was the one who felt she wasn’t good enough, who had nothing but a dream and a prayer and clawed hope out of the darkness.
Trace has everything yet can only see the darkness. He needs Kylie as much as she needs him but where she had belief in herself, he only has doubt. It’s heartbreaking to witness. His decision at the end of Girl on Tour was the right one. It’s the best and only way possible for them to survive as a couple and I personally cannot wait to join them on that journey, I’ll be buying a hat for the ceremony!
Just remind me to buy more chocolate! <3
Caisey Quinn lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, daughter, and other assorted animals. She is the author of several New Adult Romance novels featuring country girls finding love in unexpected places. She is currently working on Girl in Love, the third and final book in the Kylie Ryans series.