"Life has hurt us both, I'm tired of wasting mine. Life's too short to not chase after what we want. I'm all in.' My eyes found his. I could see all the love, the trust, and the lust in them. 'You're everything I've ever wished for. And everything I never thought I needed.'"
First off, we were fortunate and grateful to receive a copy of Pink and Country from the author, Emmanuelle Snow, in exchange for an honest review. We were so excited to read this book after reading the blurb summary and couldn't wait to dive in.
Pink and Country is the first book in the Carter Hills Band series and it will quickly grab your heartstrings and make you want to read the rest of the series! The story begins with Carter Hills escaping to his mountain cabin hideaway in Tennessee as his name is being thrown to the wolves from a scandal with his ex. He needs to escape the press and wind down from the rollercoaster his ex is dragging him through. Carter owns a handful of cabins in the mountains, which he rents out to exclusive guests.
Writer's block author April Simmons' best friend, Saunders, owns an exclusive rental/vacation agency and reaches out to April that she had a last minute cancellation for a mountainside, month-long cabin escape that she wants April to take. She thinks it will be a good change of scenery, pace, and air to possibly help April work on her next book that is due to her publisher. April agrees and heads out the next day, luggage and cat in tow.
Not long after April arrives, she encounters her moody, yet very hot, next door neighbor. "Hot and Natty" anyone?! Right off the bat, Carter is a pain in April's ass, accusing her of taking his picture, asking what she is doing, popping up to help when she doesn't expect or want it. She has no clue that he is one of the hottest country music stars out there. To Carter...it is a breath of fresh air to find someone who has no idea who he is and treats him like a man, not a star. The attraction between the two is off the charts and they slowly give in to their feelings and desires.
Once April finds out who he is, though she is initially mad he kept it from her, she still sees just the man. April becomes a breath of fresh air to Carter - his muse, his calm while in a storm, and he is falling head over heels in love. As the world finds out about their relationship, they have to choose to fight for each other and for their love. Through some twists and turns, they find their happily every after.
We both enjoyed the book very much but I (Kelli) seemed to love it just a little more than Chelsea. A few things that Chelsea felt took away from the story (mainly how Carter cannot choose one nickname for April - this was distracting to me), I thought were so cute and brought humor to it. We both felt that many times it felt like the story was coming to its happily ever after ending, but then we would look at how much is left in the book and realized it was not close to an ending yet, so a shoe just had to drop somewhere!
Like we said, there are many things that we thoroughly loved in this story. First off, can someone please write us a beautiful love song?!? *swoons* And then perform that song in a stadium full of fans, with love, desire, and happiness just beaming out of them as they sing the lyrics? Holy cow! We loved the song Carter wrote about April...and the fact that he wrote it early on in their friendship/relationship when still just learning and getting to know one another is beautiful.
"Girl, I'm mesmerized by you/ You are the rainbow/ I never knew I needed/ You're my compass/ My muse and my other half/ Babe, I'll never let you go/ This is my promise to you"
We also loved the very realistic portrayal of anxiety and depression. Carter has dealt with panic attacks and depressive episodes since his brother passed away six years ago, and Dahlia, his closest friend and brothers' wife, chose to leave the band and spotlight to raise her son. These incidences triggered his anxiety attacks, his feelings of loneliness and never being good enough for those he loved to stick around. When these episodes occur, he isolates himself, can't get out of his head, and drains himself physically and mentally just to try and get a few hours of rest. His friends try to support him the best they can, but when he falls into these episodes, he runs away to a house nobody knows he owns and hides out until it passes. It's not until April decides to leave because she feels that he's ghosted her, that he starts to better understand how these episodes are affecting him and his relationships. I (Chelsea) highlighted one line that really stuck out to me regarding Carter's anxiety and depression. "It's okay to be scared. Just don't be scared alone."
There were also a few other lines that stuck out to us. One is in the beginning of the book, when April his talking to her cat, Bernice, during one of her times trying to break through her writer's block. "Hey, girl, can you do that later? I need some encouragement here; don't you see I'm struggling?" We don't know about y'all, but we definitely talk to our animals like this too! Can't they tell we need their undivided attention and support!? (Sarcasm, but not really lol). Also, what is it about owning an animal, and being able to tell them your thoughts and feelings, that is so comforting and helps lessen the anxiety?
The second line is toward the end, when Carter is trying to win back April (no details on why they're not together - we can't spoil the book!). He says . "I'll never distract you again with sex when you're in one of your creative flows." I (Chelsea) legit laughed out loud when I read this line. If you're a creative person, then you know exactly how being distracted by anything during a creative flow sucks. And if you're not creative, imagine how it is when you're deep into a book and people keep trying to talk to you! It is seriously torture! You lose focus, your thought process, and it just can't seem to come back to exactly what it was before you were interrupted.
The final line, which we won't say where in the book it is so not to give anything away, is "Thank you for doing boring stuff with me." While this is supposed to be because of Carter's music star lifestyle, this really hit home with us. Love is all about enjoying even doing the boring stuff with each other. Life isn't constantly glamorous or exciting, so finding someone you enjoy doing boring stuff with is something special, and also how you know you found a true love. Being comfortable, content, even happy, in those quiet moments, in the ordinary daily grind makes a love far more lasting than constantly being swooned with gifts, luxury, and fame.
Within the story, something we both appreciated, and that was so present within the whole plot, was the absolute true friendships that both Carter and April had. Saunders and Dahlia are the stars of this story in our opinion. They know exactly what April and Carter, respectively, need to hear to give them the push and drive to follow their hearts and to take the chance they both want to take. They are the sounding board when April and Carter are struggling through their emotions and anxiety; they are the plotters to push them in the direction they know Carter and April are trying to baby step their way to; and they are the family that support and love them unconditionally. To have friendships like that in your life is one of the most important things, and we love that they both had that connection in life. Friends are the family that we choose, and they both chose so wisely.
Overall, Kelli gives Pink and Country a 4 star review, and Chelsea gives the book a 3 1/2 star review. We both definitely suggest checking out this book (and the amazing new covers coming out soon)! And again, we're so excited and grateful that Emmanuelle reached out to us to ask us to review this book, and we can't wait to read the rest of the series! We want to see the storylines for the other characters we were introduced to in this first book! And maybe we will get sneak peeks of Carter and April's love story continued in the rest of the series!
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