Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Reviewed: From Here to Nashville by Julie Stock.







From Here to Nashville was published on February 16, 2015.


Thanks to Julie for sending me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.



From Here to Nashville is a book I have been eyeing up ever since I saw the beautiful cover reveal earlier in the year. I love reading books which have a music theme to them and I was interested to read the book anyway having been following Julie’s writing process a little through her blog. At the beginning of From Here to Nashville, we meet Rachel, part of the band Three’s Company, performing in front of a small pub audience. The first song they were covering was Need You Now by Lady Antebellum which is one of my favourite songs so I was quite easily won over! At the gig, Rachel meets a gorgeous American guy in Jackson Phillips, owner of an independent record label in Nashville. The scene is set really for the entire book in chapter one. We see Rachel’s passion for her music, how quickly she is drawn to Jackson and the obvious little drama building with Three’s Company’s guitarist. As far as introductory chapters go, Julie managed to grab my attention straight away and it was kept throughout the whole book.

The story in this book transports us from Dorset to Nashville. We get to read a good deal of both settings and I felt the author paid attention to detail and helped me in my mind develop a really good picture of both places. Her description of each setting brought the story to life and I found myself as much into the touristy side to both places as Rachel and Jackson were as I was really drawn into all the sights and locations, especially catching on to the feel of the seaside early on.

Occasionally I found myself wanting to read more about the music rather than the romance between Rachel and Jackson. I really love a story about someone chasing their dream and early on, we see how much Rachel wants to be a country music singer for real, not just the odd gig here and there. In contrast to her bandmates Sam and Matt, Rachel so obviously loved and wanted to be a successful artist and though I liked seeing her slip into an easy relationship with Jackson, the romance took over the story just a tiny bit too much for me. I would have liked to have seen just a couple more gigs or more of the Nashville music scene because I felt Julie wrote them so well. It was great how simple I found it to connect with the lyrics of a singer who is purely fictional and when the crowd get behind her, Rachel comes out of her shell and it livens up the book. Rachel was such a likeable character that I couldn’t help but want her to be happy and seeing her choose to follow Jackson to Nashville to go after her dream was empowering and feel-good.

It’s clear early on that Rachel and Jackson are going to fall in love and there was no messing around, which was kind of a refreshing change from a lot of contemporary romance novels where the book is about whether the two characters will get together instead of the ups and downs of an actual relationship. The thing with Rachel and Jackson was that, although they both had tendencies to run from their problems, when things went wrong you had that hope that they would try and work things out and they both knew that sometimes they needed to be brutally honest with each other. Their relationship felt plausible, like a real relationship where careers and friends and things from the past may try and even succeed at getting in the way but you know the two of them won’t give up without a fight.

The story is told effectively in three parts – first from Rachel’s perspective, then from Jackson’s perspective and then alternating between the two. I liked being able to hear from both of the characters but it wasn’t until their parts were alternating that I struggled a bit to tell the difference between them. Their tone and language felt too similar at times, even the pet names and certain turns of phrase. I thought Jackson, as much as I liked him, could have done with a bit more of an edge to his character. Also, both of them seemed to talk, again at times, in a long-winded way which to me didn’t feel much like natural dialogue. But it is true that I did like Jackson and his connection with Rachel – I really wanted them to stick at a relationship and be happy together, without obstacles getting in their way. I also really liked some of the supporting characters such as Alice and Sam, who felt well developed and realistic too. Overall I found From Here to Nashville to be an entertaining escapist read with a well-researched feel to it and an interesting, sweet romance. It was an impressive debut novel and I’m looking forward to reading more from the author in the future.


An entertaining contemporary romance with a country-music feel to it and characters easy to connect with right from the first page





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