Crystal Davis got her wish for the Crew’s long-awaited post-graduation trip. Sun and fun before focusing on her new career as a pediatric RN at St. Francis’ Children’s Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was just what she needed. Bonus? She met Troy Bennett, and she realized she wanted less frivolity in her life and a little more serious.
Troy Bennett is a man fighting the demons who tell him he is worthless every day of his life. Demons his mother conjured. He quiets them with alcohol and casual relationships, never allowing any woman to get close enough to him so he will never have to disappoint one. Then on the spur of the moment trip to Panama City Beach with his Ranger buddies, he sees the future he’s always been afraid to pursue exit a Jeep Wrangler at a local donut shop.
Just as Troy and Crystal are finding their footing, she gets the call she never thought she would earn: Crystal Davis is going to Hollywood to be a contestant on America’s Next Chart Topper. What started as a way to honor her murdered friend has now become her dream. Chasing her dream means leaving Troy behind for a bit, and she wonders if her absence will cause what they’ve built so far to come crashing down.
Chasing her dream also means she’s put herself in a place where she’s vulnerable to the side of Hollywood that no one wants to acknowledge. A place where people only care about her and Troy’s story for the audience while behind the scenes, evil, selfish people work to tear them apart.
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Oh, I wanted to love this book. It has such potential in it. This group of friends is trying to move on after tragically losing a friend. Crystal and Troy are trying to figure out their relationship, which is put even more to the test when Crystal gets the chance to fulfill her dream of going on a nationally televised talent show to show off her musical chops. There’s even a great twist with some devious doings by others. That actually was the best part.
But it just didn’t work for me. And here’s why.
We start out with a prologue where the girls are gathered on the anniversary of their friend’s murder, which still is not solved four years later. Okay. This is setting us up for something, right?
And then the story just dives into the middle of the story with little to not explanation of how they got there, nor who some of these people are. Time passes abruptly with a brief recap of something significant that happened that may have been better to have let play out for the reader to witness. And then some of the characters’ issues from the past that clearly have had an impact on who they are seem to just be kind of randomly thrown into the narration, which doesn’t have as much of an impact. You want to show the reader, not tell the reader. So I was utterly confused through the entire first half of the book and never connected with the characters.
As I said, it started getting interesting at around the halfway point, or just after, when Crystal goes on the talent show. There are still some gaps of time with those random summaries. But in this part of the book, we are at least shown more of what is going on and not just being told.
The ending also gives us sort of a cliffhanger that would work to entice you to want to read the next book but also feel satisfied with where this story ended. But again, I don’t really understand what is going on. I know there is a prior book in this series. Maybe having read that one first would have helped. (So no, this does not work as a standalone.)
But again, this story has some potential. Focus on showing and not telling and it could be a really good one.
I received a requested review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.