Series: Neon Dreams #1
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: eARC, 352 pages
How I got it: Edelweiss
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Dixie Lark hasn’t had it easy. She lost her parents in an accident when she was young and grew up in a ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo with her ailing grandparents and overprotective older brother. Thanks to her grandfather, Dixie learned to play a mean fiddle, inspired by the sounds of the greats—Johnny and June, Waylon, and Hank. Her grandfather’s fiddle changed Dixie’s life forever, giving her an outlet for the turmoil of her broken heart and inspiring a daring dream.
Ten years later, Dixie and her brother, Dallas, are creating the music they love and chasing fame with their hot band, Leaving Amarillo. But Dixie isn’t enjoying the ride. All she can think about is Gavin, the band’s tattooed, tortured drummer who she’s loved since they were kids. She knows he feels the connection between them, but he refuses see her as more than his best friend’s little sister.
Convinced that one night with Gavin will get him out of her system, Dixie devises a plan. She doesn’t know that her brother has forbidden Gavin from making a move on her-a promise he swore he’d always keep . . . a promise that once broken will unexpectedly change the future for Dixie, Gavin and the band.
I’m a sucker for books about music and books that make me feel all the feels. Caisey Quinn delivered both with Leaving Amarillo. I got hopelessly lost in this book and didn’t ever want it to end. This book had so many of the tropes I love – road trip, “unrequited” crush on a friend/big brother’s best friend, friends to lovers – but it felt fresh. All of these elements came together perfectly, mixed with the music backdrop, and became something brand new and amazing.
If there’s one thing I expect from Caisey Quinn (aside from all the feels!) it’s incredible, likable, complex characters. Dixie, Gavin and Dallas do not disappoint. Of course, this book is solely from Dixie’s POV, so we only get to know the other characters through her eyes, but I’m liking what I’m seeing so far. I loved Dixie. She was easily relatable. The girl had been through a lot. Her brother, Dallas, and their friend, Gavin, have been the most important people in her life since the death of her parents. She still has issues with their death, understandably, and struggles with it quite a bit throughout this book. She was a strong character, but she did let others get inside her head and mess with her. (Cough, Mandy, cough.) I wish she wouldn’t have let others make her doubt herself, but I also could see why it happened.
Dixie’s crush on Gavin is one of the biggest storylines in this book. It was also a frustrating one at times, but in that good way that only happens when you want the best for the characters. It was obvious that Gavin had feelings for Dixie. He was clearly fighting them because of his history and his friendship with (and the promise he made to) Dallas. Gavin was a player and it was a huge turnoff at times. It’s one thing to not act on an attraction to someone in your life, it’s another entirely to hurt them intentionally. I wanted to rage at him at times. I loved how Dixie called him on his bullshit though. She knew what was going on and she made sure he realized it.
They didn’t take an easy path, but I loved the passion between them. They had a ton of sexual chemistry and shared strong feelings, too. When they finally gave in it was like someone dropped a match into gasoline. They ignited and I loved it. It wasn’t all hearts and flowers though. There was a bit of uncertainty and some angsty – along with tons of feels. Exactly how I like my new adult romance.
While romance was definitely a huge part of Leaving Amarillo, there was much more to it than just that. I found the band’s musical journey and the relationships between the members nothing short of addictive. Growing up, self-doubt, the bad side of the music business… it’s all addressed here. The romance was sexy and swoony, but the rest of the book was every bit as great. I read this one in a single sitting and when I hit the end, I wanted to cry because it was over and I had to wait for the next book.
I assumed the books in this series were each standalones about the members of Leaving Amarillo and their quests for love. While I’m right in theory, there’s definitely a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this book. It didn’t disappoint me, but it did surprise me. I was left with all kinds of questions and a burning need for MORE. I can’t get my hands on Loving Dallas soon enough. (Though I suspect I won’t get full resolution until Missing Dixie… but I can hope.)
If you love romance and music, you have to check this book out. It was wonderful.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.