Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Image from Goodreads
Image from Goodreads

Title: Dirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Publication Date: 16 July 2013
Source: Review Copy – Ebook
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

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I have to be honest and say I had real problems writing this review, not because I didn’t love it – because I became so invested in the characters Jennifer Echols creates (every single time) that I feel as if I am dishing the dirt rather than writing a review. The amazing atmospheric writing makes you feel as if you are actual there within the story as an outside observer in the heart of rockabilly Nashville.

I am a little obsessed with the whole rockabilly style (see my pinterest board HERE) since reading this book; for me I think this is the most awesome compliment I can give Jennifer Echols – maybe – for getting me hooked on rockabilly style 😉 (I think it suits me anyway :P)

The story is intensely emotional it gets beneath the skin of the characters and into their heads and their hearts. Told in first person narrative from the point of view of Bailey. At the start of the book she is very insecure, the reasons behind the insecurity issues are unravelled as the story unfolds and in retrospect her feelings of self worth and belief in herself are a direct result of the events within the plot. The way she is treated by the people closest to her really tugs at the heart-strings. Denied the one thing that basically defines her, Bailey struggles with the feelings of loss and confusion. She is an extremely talented fiddle player, has perfect pitch and writes her own songs (music and lyrics) however she has been reduced to playing shopping malls without her mother’s knowledge after her sister is picked for stardom.

I absolutely detested Bailey’s mother, she is the epitome of the pushy parent. Expecting perfection and criticising anything less. Her own dreams of fame never came to fruition so she lives vicariously through her children. She’s pushed both daughters from a very young age not taking their feelings into account only her quest for the spotlight.

You can empathise with Bailey at her mothers attitude towards her, making her feel second best, the way in which she favours Bailey’s sister is quite heartbreaking when viewed through Bailey’s eyes. Her acts of rebellion are nothing more than attention seeking needing to replace the affection her mother has clearly withdrawn from her. Bailey feels as if she has had her whole future snatched away from her, in effect she has. She pours her feelings out in her song writing. I would love to see what she actually wrote in that notebook of hers 🙂 You know the saying about negative emotions causing negative things to happen, well this is exactly how I felt about Bailey’s life at the start of the story. She became a self-fulfilling prophecy – when everyone else gives up on you you tend to give up on yourself.

The music references and knowledge within the narrative add depth to the story and also opened my eyes to a whole heap of new music <3 Rockabilly/Bluegrass is a whole lifestyle not just the music 🙂 Jennifer Echols out does herself with the sensory descriptive writing, immersing you in the rockabilly/bluegrass world Bailey inhabits.

It is as if fate steps in and leads Bailey to Sam or maybe leads them to each other. I am still a little confused as to my feelings towards Sam; he can be very selfish and self-centred, not above manipulation if it furthers his musical aspirations. However, he does have a lot of defence mechanisms in place that when the reasons are highlighted within the plot make it easier to accept him. Sam and Bailey flowed perfectly together; they’ve both made past mistakes and had to live with the consequences, they just fit together. Both Bailey and Sam are driven by their emotions which can make for some very volatile situations; they both have a tendency to react quickly then regret deeply. As they get to know each other better not only do they understand each other more but are able to understand themselves better as a result. Overcoming the negativity as together they make a positive 🙂

Dirty Little Secret is an emotional turbulent journey that ultimately shows that you have to pursue your dreams while simultaneously accepting both your talent and your limitations. I highly recommend it.


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3 Replies to “Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols”

  1. I couldn’t accept Sam’s defenses… he was selfish throughout the whole book and I couldn’t stomach that which was why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I would have wanted.

    great review,
    – Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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