What if the world’s leading pop star decided to run away, look up an old acquaintance, and then hide out in his rickety house in the middle of Iowa for the summer? That’s the premise to Jenny Holiday’s latest highly enjoyable contemporary romance. It’s a fun premise for sure. Luckily, the execution is also flawless.
Emerson Grant may be on top of the charts, but success doesn’t always equate with happiness. Her label and managers expect her to produce the same kind of hits that have made her career, but she’s unsatisfied and feels in a rut. Usually, when she tries to break her ruts, things end in disaster. She needs a safe space to let loose and do her own thing, so she embraces the crazy a little and shows up on the doorstep of a near stranger who is understandably pretty perplexed at her appearance.
Evan Winslow is just trying to keep his head down and tow the line. He has built a successful career as an art history professor and is on the cusp of earning tenure at a small Iowa college. He’s managed to put aside the stink of his infamous art-dealer father’s many sordid crimes and forge his own way, but people have long memories and some of them are still willing to blame the son for the father’s misdeeds. He cannot afford for a famous pop star to blow his life to shreds, and yet he’s drawn to her in ways he can’t articulate and it just feels wrong to send her on her way. So he doesn’t.
Here’s where things get good, because Emmy and Evan then spend a good portion of this book just getting to know each other. They hang out on his porch swing every night. They bounce work ideas off each other. They spend many an evening waiting for Evan’s elderly neighbor to get home from her latest internet date. They help mentor a troubled teen and end up at the Minnesota state fair.
They also try to pretend like they aren’t undressing each other with their eyes every second of the day, but that gets harder and harder to maintain as the summer goes on. Emmy’s on a self-imposed man hiatus. Her relationships always end in blazes of public humiliation and she’s determined to stop that cycle. Evan can’t afford to be dragged into the limelight if he wants to stay under the radar. Even though being together feels so right, there’s no way a whirlwind summer can turn into forever, right?
This a great fun summer romance with two people unexpectedly finding just what they needed when they weren’t looking for it. Evan and Emmy are so compatible and it’s really great to see them support and encourage each other and inspire each other’s art. I’m a big fan of Jenny Holiday’s contemporary romances and this is yet another solid hit.
Everyone knows her face. He knows her heart.
Emerson Quinn is famous. Girls want to be her. Boys want to date her. Each record outsells the last. All that remains is to continue transitioning her brand from its teenage fan base to a more mature, diverse audience. So she’s under strict orders to play nice with her army of assigned co-songwriters and to knock off the serial dating that keeps landing her in the tabloids. If she follows instructions, she can look forward to an indefinite run at the top of the celebrity ecosystem. There’s only one problem with this plan: Emerson is miserable.
So she runs away, impulsively fleeing her L.A. life and heading for a small Iowa college town where a guy she once knew lives. He’s the only person in the world she can think of who might be enough of a nerd to not know about Emerson Quinn the brand. Who might be willing to provide a haven where she can lay low and write her new album by herself, on her own terms.
Art history professor Evan Winslow knows a thing or two about leaving your past behind. He’s worked hard to establish himself far from the spotlight of his infamous father. He’s up for tenure soon, which will mean job security for life. All he has to do to lock down his hard-won, blessedly quiet existence is keep his head down.
Too bad the most famous pop star in the world—who also happens to be his long-lost muse—has just shown up on his doorstep.