August 24, 2015

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Leaving Amarillo (Neon Dreams #1)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

Leaving Amarillo (Neon Dreams #1), by Caisey Quinn
Publish Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: e-book, gifted
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Dixie Lark hasn’t had it easy. She lost her parents in an accident when she was young and grew up in a ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo with her ailing grandparents and overprotective older brother. Thanks to her grandfather, Dixie learned to play a mean fiddle, inspired by the sounds of the greats—Johnny and June, Waylon, and Hank. Her grandfather’s fiddle changed Dixie’s life forever, giving her an outlet for the turmoil of her broken heart and inspiring a daring dream.

Ten years later, Dixie and her brother, Dallas, are creating the music they love and chasing fame with their hot band, Leaving Amarillo. But Dixie isn’t enjoying the ride. All she can think about is Gavin, the band’s tattooed, tortured drummer who she’s loved since they were kids. She knows he feels the connection between them, but he refuses see her as more than his best friend’s little sister.

Convinced that one night with Gavin will get him out of her system, Dixie devises a plan. She doesn’t know that her brother has forbidden Gavin from making a move on her-a promise he swore he’d always keep . . . a promise that once broken will unexpectedly change the future for Dixie, Gavin and the band.

I'll admit - at first glance, I passed on Leaving Amarillo. I'm not a country music fan, so I wasn't sure I would be able to get into a book about a country band trying to make it big. And, then in April I met Caisey Quinn, and she was really cool. And yet, I still balked. But, then I started seeing other blogger friends absolutely RAVING about it, so I finally added it to my wishlist, and my OTSP Secret Sister, whoever that sweet gem is, bought it for me. 

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for country music, I was immediately grabbed by the story. First of all, the main character, Dixie, plays the violin. (I played the violin for 10 years.) And, second of all, Caisey Quinn brings you to the main point of the story immediately, and it's not country music. 

Dixie is in love with her band mate and her brother's best friend Gavin, and she has been for a long time. Her brother, and band front man, Dallas, is definitively against them being together. He knows Gavin's past and doesn't think he's good enough for his baby sister. But, Dixie's suffered in silence long enough and decides to lay it all out there for Gavin and tell him how she feels. 

And, my goodness - that took some serious guts. To put yourself out there and not know how it will go - especially when the person you're spilling your guts to is your best friend in the whole world, and you're in a band together and have to see each other all the time. Yeah. I give mad props to Dixie. She's is so incredibly strong and brave. I would've never been able to come clean to Gavin and tell him how I felt like that. 

Most of us have experienced unrequited or forbidden love in our lives. It sucks. A lot. It's heartbreaking. And I felt ALL OF IT. Caisey Quinn is such an incredible writer. As Dixie was sifting through her feelings about Gavin both internally and as she poured her heart out to him, I felt SO MUCH, and it stayed with me for days afterward.

And, after it all, Dixie gets Gavin to agree to spend one night with her. She thinks that's all she'll ever have, and is hoping that she'll get enough good memories to exist on for the rest of her life, because she knows that without even a kiss or a touch from him, Gavin has already ruined her for all other men. That night - holeeeee crap. It was so incredibly hot. I might've read that section of the book three times in a row. Maybe four. 

Now, I know I said this book wasn't about country music, but it did serve as the backdrop. And, trust me when I say, you don't have to love country in order to appreciate this book. Dallas, Dixie and Gavin's band, Leaving Amarillo, is playing at a big festival, hoping to be noticed by producers or an agent. For all three of them, this band and each other are everything. We get the story entirely from Dixie's POV, so we go through the book knowing that playing in this band and being with Gavin are really the only two things that Dixie wants in the whole world. 

So, we spend the entire book wondering if Leaving Amarillo will hit it big and get noticed by someone important, and if, along the way, Dixie and Gavin can figure out their stuff enough to be together without fear of Dallas or of the consequences to the band. Throughout the course of the book, Dixie grows up a lot. She experiences a lot of hurts from a lot of different sources, and she deals with all of them as best as she can, given her youth. Some things she handles better than others, but all of her reactions were organic and realistic and so steeped in emotion. 

Nothing is resolved by the end of the book. In fact, only more questions are presented. What happened to Gavin during the year Dixie spent in college? Will Dixie really never play in Leaving Amarillo again? What are Gavin's plans to make Dixie his for good? And, when he gets around to implementing them, will she still want him? It's these questions, and more, that drove me on to book #2, Loving Dallas, immediately after finishing Leaving Amarillo. And, it took only this one book to solidify this series as one of my favorite new adult series ever.  


Unknown said...

I am soooooo happy you loved this one! (I mean, I knew you did from your tweets, but I loved reading your review.) This series was fantastic and I agree it's one of my all time favorites too. Great review, lady!

Jen said...

I AM SO HAPPY THAT YOU LOVED THIS! I too, am not a country music fan and was hesitant to read it, but I'm so glad I gave it a chance. :D

Krista said...

And thank goodness I had you for emotional support! Thanks!

Krista said...

A lot of the encouragement to read it came from you, so THANK YOU!

Val said...

LOVE this book and series!