A ferocious talent on the brink of making it big in Nashville must confront her small town past and an old love she’s never forgotten in this engaging novel—a soulful ballad filled with romance, heartbreak, secrets, and scandal from the author of Season of the Dragonflies.Playing to packed houses while her hit song rushes up the charts, country singer and fiddler Jo Lover is poised to become a big Nashville star like her idols, Loretta, Reba, and Sheryl. To ensure her success, Jo has carefully crafted her image: a pretty, sassy, down-to-earth girl from small-town Virginia who pours her heart into her songs.But the stage persona she’s built is threatened when her independent label merges with big-time Capitol Records, bringing Nashville heartthrob JD McCoy—her first love—back into her life. Long ago Jo played with JD’s band. Then something went wrong, they parted ways and took their own crooked roads to stardom. Now, Jo’s excited—and terrified—to see him again. When the label reunites them for a show, the old sparks fly, the duet they sing goes viral, and fans begin clamoring for more—igniting the media’s interest in the compelling singer. Why is a small-town girl like Jo so quiet about her past? When did she and JD first meet? What split them apart? All too soon, the painful secret she's been hiding is uncovered; a shocking revelation that threatens to destroy her reputation and her dreams. To salvage her life and her career, Jo must finally face the past—and her feelings for JD—to become the true Nashville diva she was meant to be.
The Whole Way Home Review
- May 23, 2017Pouting AlwaysJo Lover is a country singer who is on her way to joining the other greats like Dolly and Reba. Her career is threatened when her label merges with a smaller one, bringing her ex JD McCoy onto the same label. Jo is already engaged but being reunited with her first love JD brings up old feelings. When a persistent journalist uncovers a secret from her past it only throws her and JD closer together. The writing was good, better than I was expecting though I don't expect too much when reading roman Jo Lover is a country singer who is on her way to joining the other greats like Dolly and Reba. Her career is threatened when her label merges with a smaller one, bringing her ex JD McCoy onto the same label. Jo is already engaged but being reunited with her first love JD brings up old feelings. When a persistent journalist uncovers a secret from her past it only throws her and JD closer together. The writing was good, better than I was expecting though I don't expect too much when reading romance. I really loved Jo and appreciate the message the book is trying to get across about owning up to who one is and not being ashamed of the things that happen to us. Jo and JD are really sweet together also, and I thought their relationship was adorable. I just felt angry about the way Jo was treated especially by her parents, even after she tells the truth I feel like they could've done more. Parents are supposed to protect their kids and I think it's terrible that they didn't do more even in the beginning when it happened. What is a twelve year old supposed to do in that situation anyways I doubt that anyone had even told her anything that would have helped prevent it even if it had been on purpose. A heartening read with a good message, the romance isn't the only focus of the book though so if you're going to get mad about that then I would skip out.more
- May 17, 2017KristyJo(anne) Lover is a successful country music artist--a talented singer and fiddler--who is making music her own way. She's well-known as a down-home singer from Virginia who writes her own songs and loves the music she makes. Jo plays to packed crowds across the U.S. who love her more traditional style of music, her fiery spirit, and her patented red cowboy boots. But when the popular country band J.D. Gunn and the Empty Shells joins Jo's label, Asphalt Records (who just happens to be run by her Jo(anne) Lover is a successful country music artist--a talented singer and fiddler--who is making music her own way. She's well-known as a down-home singer from Virginia who writes her own songs and loves the music she makes. Jo plays to packed crowds across the U.S. who love her more traditional style of music, her fiery spirit, and her patented red cowboy boots. But when the popular country band J.D. Gunn and the Empty Shells joins Jo's label, Asphalt Records (who just happens to be run by her future father-in-law), things change. J.D. Gunn and Jo grew up together, and along with their friend, Rob, were in a band as children. But Jo is now in a very different place from her childhood friend. J.D. has embraced modern country music (and it he). He sings songs about girls and pickup trucks--none of which he writes himself anymore. And he's made a lot of money doing so. But Jo can't quite adopt what modern country radio embodies: her heroines are Dolly and Loretta and her music reflects that. Still, J.D. and Jo have a storied past together, one that Jo increasingly cannot forget the more time they spend together. This is a really interesting story of three linked artists: Jo, J.D., and Denver, who plays in a band with an African American singer, Alan. It's told in a conversational style from their various viewpoints, covering the present day as well giving us more background when the characters think back on the past. It's a very effective technique. I cannot remember exactly why I requested this ARC, but I'm glad I did. This book is basically tailor-made for me: I'm a gigantic country music fan (from Virginia), who adores 90s country music and a lot of Jo's various heroines. As a child, my idol was Mary Chapin Carpenter, I was obsessed with cataloguing every country song I heard on the radio, and I wanted to be a country music singer/songerwriter (slight problem: I can't carry a tune). Needless to say, I loved Jo immediately. Creech's novel presents a realistic take on modern country music, especially its stance toward African Americans and women. Her portrayal of the old country versus new country dichotomy is spot-on, but could potentially offend those who do love their songs about girls in pickup trucks sung by a revolving door of carbon copy male singers. You probably have to appreciate older country music for this book to work best.But, don't fear if you aren't a country music fan. At its core, this is a love story, and while it's sometimes predictable and things tend to resolve themselves a bit too easily, it's really a fun one. It's a story of falling in love over music, as well as love of music. It's a strong story, but also captures the essence of what makes music special and magical. It portrays how music can be a business, or music can be a salve for your soul. Jo and J.D. are interesting characters and the supporting cast is intriguing and fun. Along with J.D.'s bandmates, we have Jo's assistant, Marie, and Denver's bandmate, Alan. There's also Jo's fiance, Nick, who is no stock character. While it has most of the earmarks of a typical romance-type novel, there are plenty of surprises along the way. It's also surprisingly profound for a soap opera tale. I enjoyed how it was a saga of music and love, but also a story of changing times and a look into what is fake and what is real. Jo and J.D.'s stage personas and the images they create for the world versus their real selves is pretty fascinating. It's sort of a backstage pass into country music, which is fun. Overall, this may be a 3.5 - 3.75 star book, but I'm rounding up to 4 stars because I enjoyed the plot so much and because it's one of Creech's earlier books. The plot was fun without being silly and it just offered a good escape. Honestly, I would love it if there was another book picking up where this one left off. I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Edelweiss (thank you!); it is available everywhere as of 06/06/2017. Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Google+more
- March 29, 2017Shilpi GowdaWell-crafted and engaging. A literary version of "Nashville"!
- May 19, 2017AlissaIf you like the show Nashville you'll love this! Secrets, star crossed lovers and a great setting make this a quick summer read.
- June 1, 2017Enchanted ProseTriangular Love, Home, and Country Music (Nashville, present-day): The Whole Way Home sings like real country music. “A living heart in a song.” A “dance despite the heartaches.”“Good country music” – in the straight-talking words of Floyd Masters, Sarah Creech’s old-time country music legend turned radio sage who graces our airwaves from Vanderbilt's station, 87.3 FM – “should make you feel something, should cover the entire territory of the heart.” Creech’s second novel surely does with prose Triangular Love, Home, and Country Music (Nashville, present-day): The Whole Way Home sings like real country music. “A living heart in a song.” A “dance despite the heartaches.”“Good country music” – in the straight-talking words of Floyd Masters, Sarah Creech’s old-time country music legend turned radio sage who graces our airwaves from Vanderbilt's station, 87.3 FM – “should make you feel something, should cover the entire territory of the heart.” Creech’s second novel surely does with prose that’s strong, tender, achy, spirited, sorrowful, angry, wary, honest.Are you one of the two million fans of the country music TV show Nashville longing to relive the romantic chemistries and musicality between three country music stars before they killed off the female character centering them? Well, dazzling indie singer/songwriter Rayna Jaymes – that “rebel woman,” that “good-values kind of woman” – is back as Jo Lover! As magnetic and torn between “two different kinds of love” as Rayna was.This time around Nashville’s Deacon Claybourne, the fiery guitar-strumming character wrapped up in Rayna’s history, returns as J. D. Gunn, Jo’s Appalachian childhood soulmate who, along with his band brothers the Empty Shells, is now a “multiplatinum-selling country music megastar;” and Luke Wheeler, Rayna’s calmer, more conservative heartthrob is now Nick Sullivan. Privileged, yet he earned his reputation as the “most sought after producer in Nashville, maybe in the entire music industry – he could play bass, guitar, pedal steel, accordion, harp, mandolin, piano, percussion, horns.”J. D. is from Jo’s past: she hasn’t seen him in five years. Nick is her future. Until things change, in Chapter 1, The Wrong Chord.That’s when country music’s latest inductee into the Grand Old Opry – Jo – walks onto the stage of the “mother church of country music,” the Ryman Auditorium, and becomes so unnerved seeing J. D. she misses an easy chord. Noticeable to anyone who knows the music.Picture the set-up: Imagine Jo as a “young Emmylou Harris” (long black hair, tall, slender), strutting her signature red Ariat cowgirl boots, singing in her “trembling, lilting, Southern-accented voice.” She’s thirty-two, from a small mountain town in fictional Gatesville, Virginia, where “mountains and music make memories.” Her female fans – the ones she writes for – are screaming for her “mountain-girl style,” for the sweet sounds of her fiddle and mandolin, for her healing music.Hear Jo’s down-home Appalachian twang as she rouses the crowd: “Always been a lot of guessing about who I write my songs about,” she eggs them on. “But I think what really matters is heartbreak. Anyone ever experienced one of those?”Observe she’s not a folksy Jo when she steps onto that historic stage all made-up in her hot dress and even hotter seven-carat, Assher-cut diamond. She’s engaged to three-time Grammy winner Nick, whose father owns Asphalt Records, the indie label that’s nurtured her.Look whose sitting in that wild-for-Jo audience! Jo didn’t expect to see him, but you can’t miss his Elvis-looks: black wavy hair and “blue eyes lit up with innocent joy like paper lanterns.” Their estrangement seems to be about Jo feeling he’s sold-out to a corporate label. Once poor as “pickup sticks,” but she hasn’t forgotten what “her mama always said … don’t get above your raising.” That musical mistake is the first sign something is still there between them. If only J. D. could get her to smile at him, “that look that always did him in like the full moon over the mountaintop.” But Jo loves Nick, he's good for her; she wants no part of J. D. Right?Romantic tension skips through the pages. Jo’s country music men deeply love her in their own ways, which is why the novel sings. It’s not until you’re halfway through that Jo and J.D.’s backstory becomes acutely clear; it’s not until the novel’s end that the romantic triangle reshapes to two.Like Rayna and Deacon, Jo and J. D. have a past they can’t seem to get over. But Nick’s a really decent guy, lower-key, gracious, and he offers her a love that's purer and safer. Like Rayna and Luke, Jo and Nick are to be married on his magnificent estate (in eyeshot of J. D.’s) in an over-the-top wedding scheduled around their tour dates.Whomever you’re rooting for, whoever wins Jo’s uncertain heart, with the TV visuals and sounds running through your head, the whole reading experience is even more immersive and satisfying.The plot does bubble with some “thinking like a businessman” bumping up against “thinking with his heart.” How else could this be a candid look inside the country music industry from the standpoint of the singer/songwriter/musician as well as the business executive’s?The authentic thread continues with storylines about up-and-coming young talent like the Flyby Boys band, amplifying what it’s like to get noticed, picked up, make it in Nashville. It feels like the whole gamut: from the local “dive bar circuits” such as the imaginary Thirsty Baboon, to yearning for a gig at the legendary Bluebird Café where dreams can come true, to the heavy drinking and lusting on tour, to hearing your songs on the radio, to going viral, to the make-or-break publicity in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, American Songwriter, the tabloids, paparazzi, to 360 contracts, to the “post-Napster world” of digital streaming. The author’s research hums like she’s from this world.The Whole Way Home also pays tribute to country music greats, names we all know and some we may not: Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Reba McEntire, Gillian Welch, Alison Kraus, Kitty Wells, Bessie Smith, Phil Dolby, Ernest Tubb, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Deford-Bailey, Charly Pride.Don’t be fooled by the list of female artists or the sole black virtuoso who made it big. The author also doesn’t shy away from the industry’s prejudices. It’s far more profound than “country music was still a man’s world,” that it still sees women as “one-dimensional.” It doesn’t embrace a whole lot of diversity.Racially, discrimination is illuminated in the stories of two black artists. The one that affects the plot the most involves Alan, a member of J. D’s band, who works at the Black Country Music Association, founded to address the inequities. He hails from the Bahamas but his “songs felt so true to country.” Creech invents contract deals to bring home the shame of racism, yet she imbues a moral conscience in her writing and has a poet’s way of easing the pain.One of my favorite evocative lines recalls memories of Home, a major theme. Jo, as we’ve established, has ambivalent feelings about J. D. In one poignant scene, she:“felt time fold in like an accordion. J. D. smelled like red clay earth, like composing leaves on the floor, like the honeysuckle vines and Confederate jasmine blooming in June, like wild roses growing on the side of the road and fresh honey from the hive and barn straw and his daddy’s cow pasture after a spring rain, like the metallic air before the storm. He smelled like home.”Another moving scene takes place on stage, when Jo and J. D. are pressured to play together for the good of the record label. They choose an old song they wrote and sang a long time ago called “Glass Hearts.” It’s a beautiful title, one that epitomizes the novel. “Great songs don’t lose their power with age.” Neither should The Whole Way Home.Lorraine (EnchantedProse.com)PS Could the novel’s release be timed any better? Tonight at 9PM on the cable channel CMT, Nashville returns with some new characters. Will they be as good as Creech’s?more
- May 6, 2017Denise LevendoskiThank you to Sarah Creech and Goodreads.com I won this book in a Giveaway.Very slow easy story about being true to who you really are. Your life may require changes but it will always lead you back to your true character and choices that you made. I like how the story isn't rushed but it keeps you interested.more
- February 28, 2017SherrillA romance set in the world of big time country music with a feisty leading lady that plays the fiddle and wears red boots! Jo Lover is engaged to a successful music producer when her former music partner and boyfriend comes to her concert. Jo's past collides with her future forcing her to make tough decisions. Jo's assistant Marie and her boyfriend Denver experience love at first sight while Denver and his band are trying to make it in Nashville. I enjoyed this novel, loved Jo and gained insight A romance set in the world of big time country music with a feisty leading lady that plays the fiddle and wears red boots! Jo Lover is engaged to a successful music producer when her former music partner and boyfriend comes to her concert. Jo's past collides with her future forcing her to make tough decisions. Jo's assistant Marie and her boyfriend Denver experience love at first sight while Denver and his band are trying to make it in Nashville. I enjoyed this novel, loved Jo and gained insight to the world of country music stars!more
- May 15, 2017KenI could relate to a common background with the author from Galax to Pulaski in SWVA. I currently reside in The Queen City. My daughter was married at Queen College, although she attended UNCC. I had customers and family in Nashville so I could enjoy the names and places described in the novel. As a long time Country Music fan rose on rock and roll, I clearly understand that music doesn't fit the beauty of ridge running those Blue Ridges. Hank and Merle were a necessary part of smelling the honey I could relate to a common background with the author from Galax to Pulaski in SWVA. I currently reside in The Queen City. My daughter was married at Queen College, although she attended UNCC. I had customers and family in Nashville so I could enjoy the names and places described in the novel. As a long time Country Music fan rose on rock and roll, I clearly understand that music doesn't fit the beauty of ridge running those Blue Ridges. Hank and Merle were a necessary part of smelling the honeysuckle and freezing your feet in those cold mountain streams. It certainly took me back to my youth and maintained a contemporary view. I guess I have great hope for the female role in country music, and I see it as strong today as ever. It seems all of the music is blending into one sound, but good for Jo Lover not folding to the wants of the labels. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and liked the characters in JD Gunn’s band. The home grown Nashville band would have never had that edge without the addition of Aster to the band. Remember Bakersfield, CA gave us Dwight, Merle, and Buck.more
- May 26, 2017NatashaA nice contemporary red. It was interesting to read about the world of country music and how it is changing. It had a good message of not being ashamed of the negative events that happen to us. If your a country music then this is a good read for you.more
- May 25, 2017Sascha4 1/2 stars; review upcoming
- May 19, 2017Kathy4.5 stars.
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