Mini Reviews: Jennifer Echols

Posted 13 September, 2013 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 16 Comments

YA Contemporary Romance
288 pages, hardcover
Available now (July 2013)
Publisher: MTV Books
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

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…


You know, with parents like Bailey’s, she’d be better off on her own. Those people are horrible. First, they push their kids into becoming country music phenoms, playing every teeny venue in the area. Then, when Julie gets “discovered” and the execs don’t want Bailey as part of the act (for whatever reason–personally, I think there’d be more draw with two talented, pretty girls but what do I know), the parents turn all their attention to Julie and pretty much leave Bailey eating their dust. Not only that but they forbid her from doing what she loves, what she was born to do — playing music. Assholes.

As frustrated as I was with the parents and even Julie, who seemed to go along happily with cutting her sister out of the picture, I enjoyed Bailey’s little acts of rebellion (aided by her awesome grandfather). Music is a part of her soul and not playing it ripped something out of her (How did those asshole parents not see that?). It was nice to see her come back together, come back to herself as she played more and more.

Sam…yeah. Not sure I liked Sam all that much. He pushed and coerced Bailey into playing with him and his band, even though she was extremely reluctant because of her parents’ moratorium. And, really, the only reason he pushed her so much to play was to benefit himself. Plus, the other kids in the band…meh. Not thrilled with them, either.

If I were to rate this story, it’d be a 2.5/3.0 level story. Good but not fabulous. Interesting but not immersing.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble

LEVITATING LAS VEGAS by Jennifer Echols
NA Paranormal Romance
300 pages, ebook
Available now (May 2013)
Publisher: Pocket Star
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

Nothing up her sleeves…or so she’s been led to believe.

Showgirl Holly Starr is sick and tired of assisting her dad, a celebrity magician, in his Las Vegas casino magic show. As soon as he keeps his promise to her and shares the secrets to his tricks, she can break out on her own. But can she really make it? For years Holly has taken medication to stave off crazy hallucinations that she can levitate objects. Just when she thinks she’s ready to make a career and a life for herself, her medicine—and her luck—run out.

Elijah Brown suffers from a similar delusion—that he can read minds—and he’s out of medicine too. Determined to save himself and his old flame Holly, he kidnaps her and takes her straight to the source, a town high in the Rockies where their medicine is made. What they discover there leads them to suspect their powers are not imaginary after all…and neither is the intense attraction they feel for each other.

They make a pact to stick together as they return to Vegas to confront the people who kept them in the dark so long. But soon they’re pitting their powers against each other in a dangerous world where the nightlife is seductive, domination is addictive, the sex is beyond belief…and falling in love is murder.

Here are some more real winner parents: they drug their kids because one thinks she can levitate things and the other thinks he can read minds. If it’s a delusion, she won’t levitate things and he’ll only guess what people are thinking. No biggie. If it’s not, well, that’s pretty darned cool and probably could be useful in a magic show. Or so you’d think.

But the kids are pretty much brainwashed into believing they’ve *got* to have this medication so, when they run out and can’t get any more, they race off to the Rockies to get some more. Seriously? Not only that but the chemistry between Holly and Elijah just fell flat for me. There didn’t seem to be much of a spark, much less passion. 

Oh, well. Not what I expected, it was an okay read. I did feel that everything — the tension, the passion, the action — needed to be ramped up at least two levels to make it a stand-out read.

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16 Responses to “Mini Reviews: Jennifer Echols”

  1. I was and am still a little torn about Dirty Little Secrets. I liked so many aspects of this books but the more I think about Sam the more I do not like him.

    Levitating Las Vegas was so weird but also a lot of fun once you got past the weirdness:)

  2. I actually enjoyed Levitating Las Vegas more out of both of these boks and that’s actually saying something as I don’t normally do paranormal reads. I was hoping for a lot more from Dirty Little Secret, but the characters fell a little flat for me. I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Freat honest reviews Mary!

  3. It would appear that Echols just isn’t the right author for you, just like I suspect she wouldn’t be for me either. HOnestly, I never tried reading one of her books, but I’ve been tempted to read Levitating Las Vegas. Yeah, not anymore.
    Thanks, Mary.

  4. I have both of these books on my Kindle to review, but I’ve been putting it off because of all the lukewarm reviews. I’ve read 2 Echol’s books so far, and only enjoyed one. Something is telling me that I won’t like these either. Ugh. Thanks for the honest reviews!

  5. So… parent writing is not this author’s strong suit, uh?
    I read the first one and I thought it was just okay, didn’t mind the secondary characters, I just never connected with the whole country music scene. Second one don’t even want to pick up 😛

    Thanks for the honest reviews 😀

  6. I’ve been avoiding these two books because I have heard similar opinions. Bummer because a few of Echols other books are favorites of mine.

  7. I’ve heard lots of things about Sam and the fact that he’s not the best of love interests. I struggle with books like that, where there’s a character put in the love interest position who I just don’t think deserves to be there, so I think I’ll pass on Dirty Little Secret. Doesn’t seem like Levitating Las Vegas impressed you all that much either, so when I give Jennifer a try, I’ll start with one of her other books! Lovely mini reviews Mary!

  8. Your middling, “interesting but not immersing” feelings towards these two books sum up exactly how I felt about the one book of hers I’ve read. (I don’t even remember the title!) Everyone loves her so much that I feel like I should give another book a chance sometime, but…these reviews remind me why I’m probably okay to skip, hah.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  9. I don’t know… I’m sort of over the whole parents are assholes bit. I mean I know there are those out there, but also those that have at least one parent in their corner. Can we have at least some of that in this genre? 🙂 Still, loved the reviews. When I need to get ticked and throw something I will pick these up. 😀

  10. I’ve really only seen ‘okay’ reviews for both of these. The first one sounds appealing to me, but I don’t know that it’s worth me picking up since it’s not really blowing people away. It has a gorgeous cover though!

  11. Sorry to hear that both of these were meh reads for you! I was really hopeful for the first one and I have some friends that loved it, but I’m worried about the awful parents and how forgiving Bailey is to them. I’m also not sure if Sam would be someone I could handle. The second one wasn’t even on my radar but I don’t think I’ll bother with it either. I like Echols a lot, so hopefully her next book will be better!

  12. Dirty Little Secret… I loveddd the music and family aspect, though the romance was definitely problematic. I feel like Sam had the good guy potential, but his change of heart happened way too quickly.

    Levitating Las Vegas? Big disappointment for me. It had so much potential, but it didn’t make a lot of sense to me… some big ideas that just sort of failed in the execution, for me at least.