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Sometimes holding on means letting go
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.
Smoky Mountain Dreams is the complete package: it has an original plot, a gorgeous location/setting and a couple of seriously likable main characters.
Christopher is a backup singer at a theme park in Tennessee. He wishes he’d made it big in Nashville, but he’s content with his job and the way things are, although he’d really like to share his life with a special someone.
Jewelry designer Jesse (cool profession, right?!?) is dealing with the fallout from a tragic accident five years ago. He’s raising two kids on his own—with some help from his in-laws—but he’s missing love and companionship from a steady partner.
Sparks fly when these two meet, and I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions and chemistry. SMD is heavy and the angst, and has lots of family drama (some of which I can’t address without spoiling the plot, sorry!). Christopher’s family is made up of a bunch of assholes, save for one: his grandma. Jesse himself has a crazy hell-bitch of a sister-in-law. The boys have miscommunication (lots), and Jesse’s preteen daughter needs a good waterboarding session reality check in a couple of key places in the story.
Counterbalance, though! The sexy time was perfect and heaping. I have two words for you: pearl and scene. Read it for yourself and trust me on this: bring a drip pan for your drool.
I really liked the way Christopher and Jesse found their way back to each other through tests and trials and tribulations. I did think SMD was too long, though. I struggled to get to (and past) the 50 percent mark; there were so many details to digest! While on the one hand I loved descriptions—I can perfectly explain the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park and its various venues—but on the other hand, it was too much information. I can write without a doubt: had this book been about 100 pages shorter, it would have been a 4-star (or higher) read. One other annoyance: I had a hard time with Christopher’s grandma, a living character in the book, having running dialogue in his head. It was weird and off-putting, and I didn’t think it added a lot to the bottom line.
The ending of SMD felt…open, and I can see where there may very well be another book to follow! After reading three of her books now, what I’ve learned about Leta Blake is that she doesn’t write her characters as these perfect guys who have all the answers, and none of her guys are alike. That’s totally refreshing, knowing I’ll always get a story about people who have depth and people who are going to make serious mistakes and before they get to their HEA. If you’ve enjoyed her other books, I’m positive this one will be a tasty treat, just in time for the holidays!