Perfect for music-loving fans of Nicholas Sparks’ Dreamland and Lucy Score’s Things We Never Got Over, author Elena Goudelias delivers a small-town contemporary romance that is vibrant, addictive, and heartwarming. Vividly set and full of lovable characters, After the Music is the perfect feel-good hometown romance for anyone seeking hope and inspiration.
At twenty-two, Bailey Flynn learned a hard lesson: no good thing is meant to last. If it were, she would be releasing new country music and enjoying her life in the peaceful Pennsylvania countryside. Instead, she is still reeling from a family tragedy that nearly destroyed everything, and she hasn’t been able to pick up her beloved guitar since.
Six years later, twenty-eight-year-old Bailey returns to her rural hometown of Oak Plains. When Bailey sees a familiar face from high school during a visit to the local hardware store, she finds herself revisiting the past in a new light. Dustin Cooper is one of the few people who truly understand what she’s been through, and his unflagging patience and compassion toward her are almost overwhelming. Their instant chemistry and shared history are addictively comforting, and suddenly Bailey finds herself falling for him faster than she ever has before.
When Bailey’s family begs her to return to the stage and sing at the town’s annual summer concert, Bailey realizes her old wounds are far from healed. Facing another major disappointment is almost too much to bear.
Can she find the courage to let hope return to her heart, heal from her tragic past, and fall back in love with country music along the way?
My last happy memory of Oak Plains was also one of my saddest.
After the Music by Elena Goudelias
There are times when I like to read light books that don’t require me to concentrate a lot on the plotline, and there are other times when I like to read books that need 100% of my attention, and I take a ton of notes (if I am reviewing). Then there are the in-between books. You know, the books where you need to concentrate on the plotline, but if you don’t (or can’t), you don’t get lost, and you can easily be caught up. After the Music is one of those books. I kept getting interrupted while reading (and once lost my place, lol). But I could always find my way back to where I was and immerse myself in the book. That is what I liked the most about After the Music (besides the romance and the storyline).
The plotline for After the Music was well written. Bailey had suffered a significant trauma when she was twenty-two, one that she blamed on herself and her music. For six years, she refused to return, unless necessary, to her hometown of Oak Plains. But that changes when Bailey returns and realizes to heal, Bailey needs to face those memories. As she grapples with her pain, Bailey reconnects with a man from her past – Dustin Cooper. While falling for Dustin, Bailey starts to heal. But is it enough? Will Bailey be able to recover from what happened to her?
After the Music is the first book in the Oak Plains series; since it is the first book, I don’t need to put any of the usual stuff here. It can be read as a standalone book, and you don’t have to worry about missing storylines with any of the characters.
I liked the characters in After the Music. They were all well-written (even the kids). What I liked the most is that the adult stopped coddling Bailey at some point during the book. Instead, several characters started telling her some hard truths about herself. I liked that because I pictured people in real life doing it.
Bailey—I was on the fence with her. While I liked and sympathized with her, I thought she was very immature and probably needed therapy to deal with what happened. She treated Dustin awful from maybe the middle of the book to almost the end. She was a big jerk to him and her friends and family. All because he wouldn’t tell her what was going on with his family (and guess what, he had an excellent reason not to). I knew there would be a HEA with them, but honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he told her to pound sand.
Dustin—I liked him but found him almost too easygoing during parts of the book. He did surprise me with how firm he got with Bailey and how he dealt with her immaturity. I disagreed with how long he kept his secret, but once it was revealed, I understood. He had been shamed about it once and wasn’t about to go through it again.
After the Music fit perfectly into the romance genre. There was heat (Bailey and Dustin had instantchemistry). The sex scenes weren’t grossly explicit (and I do like them explicit). The author instead let me use my imagination about what happened when they hooked up.
The storyline with Bailey, her music, her trauma, and everything else was sad to read. I liked that the author built up Bailey’s trauma storyline and kept it as a running theme with everything else. There wasn’t a magic wand that instantly cured Bailey of her trauma. The author had Bailey react truthfully to events and showed how they affected her years later. She even regressed after Dustin disappeared. Even the friend and family members’ reactions were truthful. I could feel the tiredness coming off her sister (dealing with someone who has had trauma isn’t easy).
The storyline with Bailey, Dustin, and their romance was interesting. Bailey and Dustin had a fast-moving affair. But it wasn’t Instalove. They had known each other for years before Bailey returned to Oak Plains. The author did have their relationship mirror real life, and I liked it. But I found Bailey to be immature and unbending regarding Dustin. Yes, he should have been upfront with Bailey about what was happening. But it still didn’t justify how she treated him. I was so glad when her sister took her to task over that. Bailey deserved all of that verbal beatdown.
The storyline with Bailey and her music was interesting. I figured that the music industry was cutthroat, but to the extent that Bailey’s boss went was over the top. Talk about a bitter woman. I was glad that Bailey got the last laugh in the end.
The end of After the Music was what I thought it would be. I loved how the author brought about Dustin and Bailey’s HEA. I cannot wait to see whose romance is featured in book two (I do have an idea but nothing cemented).
I would recommend After the Music to anyone over 21. There is mild language, mild violence, and sexual situations.
Many thanks to Elena Goudelias and Novel Cause for allowing me to read and review After the Music. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of After the Music, then you will enjoy reading these books:
What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?
Thursday: Not a lot happened around here. I started getting my kids big Christmas gifts in and trying to find good hiding spots. I found out that two games I play (Disney’s Dreamlight Valley and Planet Zoo) are having updates. Disney’s was today (and it was free!!) and Planet Zoo’s is next week (helloarmadillos!!!). Also, BK is getting me the Kindle Scribed for Christmas. I can’t wait!! I am getting him a deep fryer that cleans and recycles the oil.
Friday: Miss R didn’t have horseback riding. Her instructor went to a trainer conference, and we rescheduled for Sunday. Miss B went to her winter formal. She had a blast!!
Saturday: We took Miss B to Sams Club to finally get her glasses prescription filled. She was thrilled. Other than that, we hung out all day.
Sunday:Miss R had horseback with the older (think 15-17) girls. She did well and cantered. She is still too unsure to jump the rails.
Monday: I spent all day Monday fighting with Tony. He decided that he belongs outside and jets whenever the front door opens. Super frustrating, but I know he will grow out of it. I also spent some of it breaking up fights between Snickers and Loki. She has decided not to like him this week. Which means she chases him down every time she sees him.
Tuesday: Miss R had an orthodontist appointment. We found out that she might be getting her braces off soon. Also, on a sadder note, her main orthodontist is retiring. I was very sad about that. He did wonders with Miss B’s teeth. But the other orthodontist is just as good.
The longest book I read this week: Was a tie between The Bandit Queens and Cathedral of Time. I couldn’t get into The Bandit Queens at first. The Cathedral of Time was long for a different reason. It is connected to an app that scanned a QR code at the end of each chapter. It was very interesting and time-consuming (which is great for younger kids)
The shortest book I read this week: Was The Bodyguard. Someone told me that I would love this book and laugh at it. I did!!!
So that’s the essential things for this past week. How was your week?
As always, let me know if you have read or are planning to read any of these books!!
What I Recently Finished Reading:
Ghostly sightings of a legendary murderer. The discovery of a hidden stash from a bank robbery. The disappearance of a well-known TV personality, and the most prominent family in town entangled in all of it. Makayla Brown’s ideal life is about to be blown to smithereens. She’ll need to race across space and time, plunging herself into another world in hopes of saving her own. When Makayla disappears off the face of the Earth, the dedication of her two best friends, Tanner and Andrew, will be tested as they attempt to follow her trail through a dangerous new world and encounter beasts and beings the likes of which they’ve never seen. Will they reach Makayla in time to rescue her from certain death and bring her safely home, or will they be doomed to spend eternity in their new world, sealed by the rule of the fates?
Author Stephen Austin Thorpe, the son of a school teacher who made magic with her words by varying intonations and playing with pronunciation to add dramatic flare, grew up loving words. But it wasn’t until he sat down to document the flow of a video game he planned to create that he realized how much he loved to write. And so Cathedral of Time, the first in The World of Agartha series, was born. Stephen’s love for Ancient Rome, and history in general, grew from his service as a 19-year old missionary in modern-day Rome. Stephen lives in Utah with his wife Maria and daughters Jenny and Mary.
What I am currently reading:
Newly single, Julia Dunphy is back in San Francisco with her kids. Julia’s new work in an aquarium shop unearths old memories of a whale watching business she once imagined, and of William Quinn, the man she imagined it with. When she learns that William has made a success of their ideas, she wonders if it’s too late to finally make a success of their relationship. But Julia’s already blown her first two chances at happiness with William, so a third one seems like wishful thinking. Then she learns that William’s family is drowning in medical bills, and she uses her prowess as a former paralegal to stick it to the insurance company. When William shows up to thank her, she dares to wonder – is a third chance with him possible, after all?
What books I think I’ll read next:
Bailey Flynn has always been the resident country music star in her small town of Oak Plains, Pennsylvania. But ever since tragedy struck six years ago, she hasn’t sung a single note or picked up her treasured guitar.
Bailey returns home to find an open slot at the annual summer concert waiting for her to fill it. Her past makes her hesitant to rise to the occasion, despite her sister’s insistence. It isn’t until she sees a familiar face from high school that she begins to let hope—and music—into her heart again. He might just be the fresh start she needs…or a bitter reminder of the past she’s worked so hard to forget.
Five children in prison, five sets of parents who would do anything to protect them, one chance to break them out.
It’s 2037 and after a nationwide campaign following the increase in prisoner death rate, the system has gone fully automatic. Every inmate is on their own with each cell a box of isolation. The juvenile correction facilities are functional, cold and impersonal yet impecable, a stark contrast to the adult institutions where suicide and collapse of mental health for the youth transfering is almost inevitable.
With an iminent transfer date, the clock is ticking. But with an impenetrable prison, long standing feuds and skeletons in the closet, will these strangers ever be able to work together to formulate and execute a plan to save their children whilst keeping their families intact?
Son of the Poison Rose marks the second installment of New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry’s epic, swashbuckling Kagen the Damned series.
The Silver Empire is in ruins. War is in the wind. Kagen and his allies are on the run from the Witch-king. Wild magic is running rampant everywhere. Spies and secret cabals plot from the shadows of golden thrones.
Kagen Vale is the most wanted man in the world, with a death sentence on his head and a reward for him—dead or alive—that would tempt a saint.
The Witch-king has new allies who bring a terrible weapon—a cursed disease that drives people into a murderous rage. If the disease is allowed to spread, the whole of the West will tear itself apart.
In order to build an army of resistance fighters and unearth magical weapons of his own, Kagen and his friends have to survive attacks and storms at sea, brave the haunted wastelands of the snowy north, fight their way across the deadly Cathedral Mountains, and rediscover a lost city filled with cannibal warriors, old ghosts, and monsters from other worlds. Along with his reckless adventurer brothers, Kagen races against time to save more than the old empire… if he fails the world will be drenched in a tsunami of bloodshed and horror.
Son of the Poison Rose weaves politics and espionage, sorcery and swordplay, treachery and heroism as the damned outcast Kagen fights against the forces of ultimate darkness.
Perfect for fans of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and Keri Lake’s Nightshade, Affinity for Pain is a dark paranormal romance that is steamy, action-packed, and full of emotional intrigue.
Hope Turner is the ideal human-hunting assassin, and she is damn good at her job. A daughter of the Chakal, a race of hybrid demons lacking physical sensation and emotion, Hope was always brutally efficient in her work. She never struggled with a case, that is, until she was assigned to take down Ciaran O-Connor – a stubborn, strong-willed bodyguard with a dark past and severe PTSD.
He also happens to be her soulmate.
When the omaeriku – an inescapable soulmate bond – takes hold of her, Hope is hit with a wave of emotion and physical sensation for the first time in her life. Finding herself unable to kill Ciaran and ending up on her former boss’s hit list, Hope and Ciaran must escape into hiding. Immediately, the chemistry between Hope and Ciaran is electric. However, they must try to direct their focus on finding a way to take down Marcus Dentry, their newfound common enemy, who was both Hope’s former boss and Ciaran’s former captor and torturer.
However, as they spend more time together and succumb to their physical desire for each other, the newfound emotion and pain brought forth by the soulmate bond begin to overwhelm Hope. Can Hope learn to handle her sudden emotions, both the good and the bad, before it drives her away from the only person who can make her feel? And can Hope and Ciaran track down Marcus and exact their revenge before he gets to them first?
Inspired by the works of authors like Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, Affinity for Pain is a great next read for smut-lovers seeking a romance that includes action, intimate vulnerability, and electric chemistry. Click “Add to Cart!” today!