Review – Louder Than Love by Jessica Topper

Louder than LovePublisher: Penguin InterMix
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: NetGalley

It’s been over three years since a train accident made a widow of Katrina Lewis, sending her and her young daughter Abbey back to the suburban town of her youth…the only place that still makes sense. Lauder Lake is the perfect place to hide and heal.

Recluse rocker Adrian “Digger” Graves survived the implosion of his music career, but his muse has long lain dormant. Until Kat hires him to play at her library—not on the basis of his hard rock credentials but rather, because of the obscure kids’ TV jingle he wrote years ago. In a case of mistaken identity, Adrian stumbles into the lives of Kat and her comically lovable daughter.

Using tattoos as a timeline, Adrian unfurls his life for Kat. But as the courtship intensifies, it’s unclear whose past looms larger: the widow’s or the rocker’s. Will their demons ever rest, or will they break these soul mates apart?
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I had some really intense mixed feelings about this book. In many ways, I was absolutely blown away with how great it was. In others, I was so disappointed that it wasn’t living up to the potential I thought it had.

Kat moves back to the small town she grew up in after her husband dies. She lives in the house she grew up in with her daughter, and has kept everything the same since her parents retired to warmer weather. Kat lives day to day, still grieving and struggling with being alone, raising her daughter with just the help of friends. But that all changes the day she asks Adrian Graves to come sing kids songs at the public library.

Adrian wrote the kids songs as a joke, but they took off anyway. He is a hardcore rock star through and through, with the tattoos and alcohol issues to prove it. But something about Kat calls to him, and he does everything he can to try and win her trust and her love. But competing against a ghost is harder than he ever imagined.

I think the one aspect of the book I liked the most was how devoted Kat was to her late husband. He wasn’t a bad guy, nothing came out later about him lying or cheating or being a jerk. He was a wonderful and loving man, and Kat really did struggle with letting him go. The pain she felt, the fear of being alone and the ache of missing him was so tangible. I ached for her. I hurt with her. I loved the fact that Topper dealt with such an intense issue the only way possible, with time and a lot of tears.

However, because of Kat’s unending devotion for her husband, the romance between her and Adrian seemed to take a bit of a backseat in the overall story. Especially since the first handful of chapters were all about Kat’s past, and the current day story took a long time to develop. (Like, I almost stopped a few times it was so slow to start up.) But once the romance got going, it was fun and sexy. Kat seemed to go into it not really knowing what she wanted: a hot fling, a new relationships, a rebound guy? She took it day by day, and as things progressed, seemed to reevaluate at every point. It was slow and sluggish at times, but also easy for me to believe in.

I loved the fact that Adrian had such a large personality. He had a softer side, the side who wrote kids songs and took the time to talk to each and every child; and the heavy metal rocker, who had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and struggled behind the scenes. But, because this story was told in first person from Kat’s point of view, we didn’t get to see as much of Adrian as I would have liked. We didn’t get to really see what made him tick, why he stuck it out with Kat for so long, and what his motivations were. I wanted that, and was so bummed we never got even a small taste of it.

All the secondary characters were wonderful. Kat, or Tree to her childhood friends, had such a warm and loving group of friends. They helped her raise her daughter and grieve, and all were colorful and fun in their own light. The way they all reacted to Adrian was wonderful too. I liked that some of her friends were hesitant, some were instantly welcoming, and some were flabbergasted when they realized the truth behind Adrian’s rocker past. It added another dimension to the book that really worked for me.

But my biggest complaint is that this book didn’t live up to the potential I thought it could really have. There were so many wonderful elements, so many great parts and characters. Anyone who made it past the slow and difficult beginning was in for a treat, but getting there was a definite battle. The lack of alternating point of views really left a lot to be desired, especially in the romance aspect. I could feel how close Topper was to making this story one of my favorites, but unfortunately it just didn’t reach those heights.

All in all this book is proof that Topper has a strong career ahead of her. If the few issues I had are able to be corrected in the next release, I know that Topper will develop a strong fanbase of readers everywhere. While this book didn’t live up to my high hopes, it still had a wonderful story, amazing characters, and a strong foundation. I’m anxious to see what comes next.
I give Louder Than Love a C

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