Tag team review after the jump!
From the moment they meet, their connection is perfect in every way but one.
It’s New Year’s Eve, 2007, and Justine James is fronting her dead-end band for a less-than-adoring crowd. But there’s one person there who sees what she could be—one person who changes everything for her.
Dillon Pierce clawed his way up from the LA streets with no one to count on but his best friend, Ash. Their years of struggle finally pay off when their band, Outlaw Rovers, gets signed and their single takes off. With Ash as the magnetic lead singer and Dillon as the band’s musical soul, they’re destined for greatness, provided Dillon can keep Ash from self-destructing first.
Dillon might not be fronting Outlaw Rovers, but he’s always been the only one Justine sees. She’s followed his career from afar and when he shows up at her crummy New Year’s Eve gig, nothing will stop her from meeting him. They forge an intense connection, rapidly moving from friends to musical soul mates. Justine wants much more, but she’s not willing to climb over groupies and industry bottom-feeders to make it happen. Dillon becomes a fixture in her life, but she has to figure out how to keep him out of her heart.
Outlaw Rovers begins to implode as Justine’s star is on the rise. The years that follow bring equal parts fame and ruin. For Justine, a new love supplants her old heartbreak, and Dillon has to reboot his life after losing nearly everything that matters. Despite the odds, Dillon and Justine remain devoted friends and musical collaborators. After all the missed chances, wrong turns and painful detours, can they finally find the happiness together that seemed destined from the start?
Annie- Hey everyone! Michelle and I are so excited about the release of Amanda Weaver’s debut novel, Always. We were lucky enough to receive advance copies and are thrilled to be able to share our thoughts about it with you as the Always Blog Tour comes to Bookish Temptations.
Michelle- As Annie mentioned, we were thrilled to advance read Amanda’s novel, Always. We may have done a bit of fangirling via DMs and email.
Annie -I don’t know what you’re talking about. We are always super cool and collected. I especially did not cartwheel through my living room when I got the ARC. *cough*
What made the book enjoyable for me was the combination of a compelling, believable story and the fresh, engaging writing. The story had a little bit of everything, humor, drama, romance, and a couple surprises mixed in. Dillon was talented and sexy without being too perfect and Justine was smart and fun but cautious. Amanda’s quality writing immersed us in the world of concert tours and recording studios.
Michelle – Ditto, Annie! One of the things that really stands out for me is how much I enjoyed Justine. She is down to earth and very real. I would definitely like to be friends with her. The same can be said of Dillon- I really liked him. I loved watching him mature into Justine’s friend, and seeing him find his way after his struggles. Another positive for me is the way Amanda lets the story flow. Yes, there are highs and lows, but each event drives the plot in a realistic way.
Annie – One of the things I noticed pretty early and throughout the book was that Amanda writes really good kisses. I loved the situation of the first kiss in Always. I thought it was a great idea and so romantic. I think she balances the emotional and physical really well, and does it in a way that you’re kind of absorbed in the kisses right along with the characters. I want to add that I am not a fan of UST in general, usually I’m thinking “for Pete’s sake, just do it already,” but the way she used it in Always worked for me. Go figure.
Excerpt – He leaned closer, so close she could feel the heat from his body. His fingers curled in, she could feel them pressing into the back of her neck, tangling in her hair. It set all her nerves on fire. She was suddenly, painfully aware of him and his overwhelming physical presence, the part of him she worked so hard at ignoring. “You,” he whispered, pulling her even closer. Her eyes darted to his mouth without her wanting them to, but he was right there. So close. She could still smell the liquor and weed on him. She could see the coke in his eyes. And she could almost see the fingerprints of that girl all over him. His mouth, so close to kissing hers, had just been on that girl. She’s never want something so cheaply given. Besides, he probably wouldn’t even remember this tomorrow. At the last second, when his face was just inches from hers, she turned her head to the side and closed her eyes.
Michelle – Oh… the kisses. Amanda knows just the right words to bring out all the butterflies. I am all about the slow boil in romances. For me, the evolution of Justine and Dillon’s relationship in Always is a great pace. Their relationship evolves; simple, complicated, angsty, friendly, respectful, and finally…well you’ll have to read it to find out.
I also love the way Amanda gives readers a look into the musical connection between Justine and Dillon. “How do you do that?” “What?” “That. What you just wrote. It’s like the whole world’s heartbreak in a guitar chord.”
Annie – I also enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Dillon’s best friend Ash and Justine’s sister Emily. They were interesting on their own and they added to the story without being distracting or boring. Oh, and David, I really want to know how he ended up. I felt a tiny bit sorry for him, but, dude, what a jerk.
Michelle – Annie is spot on again! The supporting characters give depth to both Justine and Dillon. Readers get to see the background story for both Justine and Dillon through them. I want to adopt Emily as my fiction sister. And Justine’s parents, though only minor characters, are the best. Amanda gives us a true sense of rock group dynamics with each band member playing their part. I could feel the tension between David and Justine in their sessions. I think David is one of those characters you love to hate. Ian is another secondary character that threw me for a loop. Without giving too much away, just know that his actions speak louder than words. Amanda also masters the art of the silent character. In Always, “life on the road” becomes a background character so to speak. The toll touring takes on the characters, as well as, how it moves the plot along. And that is the trick that talented writers have. The ability to get readers to connect with their story and want to continue reading to see where the journey takes them.
I think that is what makes me admire Amanda’s writing so much; her ability to make you feel emotions from words on a page. Getting the readers invested is a true talent. I know I am a fan…. Always. *cue sappy music*
Annie – *Turns up sappy music* Yes, I love how you get what the characters are feeling without it being predictable. Oh and Justine’s dad is so cute.
BONUS: Amanda bring her characters to life through written words and her Pinterest page for Always takes it one step further. Amanda’s selection of pictures really set the mood she was going for in the book. It’s fascinating to see where her inspiration came from. She has boards for her future books as well, also lots of art and historical things and places. Very cool. Check out all the prettiness right HERE.
Michelle – Ms. Weaver knocks this one out of the park. Always has a solid plot with just enough history between the lead characters to make you want to root for them. All of the characters are well defined and have depth. There is drama without it feeling forced. In other words, I know I will enjoy rereading it several times.
Annie – What she said. It was truly a joy to read. I’m hoping this novel gets the success it deserves and am looking forward to many more books from her in the future.