Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
This addictive summer romp has everything it needs to top off your beach bag: surprisingly fiery romance, a feisty protagonist with plenty of wit, and a heartwarming relationship between two best friends. The fresh insight into the world of a country music superstar only adds to the allure; from meltdowns due to the paparazzi to the electrifying behind-the-scenes structure, it's a fun read.I love that Reagan was a full-blooded rebel, backing up that image with court-mandated therapy, questionable taste in boys, and struggles with vices such as smoking and drinking. Her personality- while seen before- was never cliche. I'd never realized before this book how many YA books use the "bad girl" archetype without actually having the action to back it up - we've been missing out! She both exemplified the classic archetype while still lending it her signature flair. She made mistakes but aggressively sought to fix them. She had a sharp tongue, a love for high heels, and a fiery temper.I hadn't realized how deeply Reagan's stubborn streak went until some of her wilder antics ensued. Her clever solutions to things- namely arguments that she couldn't stand to lose- led me to crack up. She was ferocious.That ferocity made it even sweeter to read about her friendship and family issues. Her chemistry with Dee was nothing short of adorable. They could talk about surface level things and erupt into giggles over old jokes but they were quick to get each other's backs and bail each other out from hard situations. That was a pretty darn cute friendship to read about especially as the pressures of their situations mounted and they were tested. It was absolutely precious.However, I would have liked to see a little more of Dee's personality, to be honest. Her music career largely defined who she was. Reagan claims in the book that Lilah Montgomery, country superstar, and Dee, best friend, were two different personas. Unfortunately, because the book focused on the tour, we didn't particularly get to meet her or see where the two personalities diverged. She was kind and naïve and broken-hearted and cute, but I would have liked to connect with her more. Dee had her own issues going on throughout the book aside from Reagan's, and I would have liked to see a little more exploration of those because there were some more potential threads!Open Road Summer had about the same appraisal of fame that similar books offer: nothing extremely in-depth but still interesting to read because of the change in perspective. I would have liked a few more intimate details, but Lord still did a stellar job with smaller aspects of it, the paparazzi being a prime example.Most of the publicity areas of the book dealt with the girls' reactions to paparazzi. I found it interesting because to me, a lot of fame-focused books only focus on paparazzi as it exposes secrets. This related more to the day-to-day hurt that the reporters could cause the tour. Dee was the type of person who stalked her website comments and Googled her name to see what popped up. The effect that it had on Dee as her reputation fluxed between perfect and tarnished was realistic for sure. In addition, some related problems were wrapped up so smoothly. Some of the best scenes involved Dee and Reagan keeping cool under media pressure.All these details and aspects of the book were lovely but the best part was the romance! The way that it was built was captivating. The bad girl and the lovable guy who's too good for her. Classic, right? Yet another seen-before combination that Lord rocked.Matt was a likable guy. He had all the sweet characteristics of the good guy but with a fresh feel that didn't immediately degrade him to forgettable. Despite the sideways smile, the heartfelt lyrics, the act, he wasn't obnoxious and he wasn't a pushover either. He and Reagan worked well together and I couldn't get enough of their relationship. Adorable, but with enough fire to keep it sizzling. It wasn't inappropriate or anything but it's blush-worthy simply because of the heat of their respective personalities.The ending and the book itself were really predictable but that didn't take away whatsoever from how much I enjoyed it. A few moments were on the verge of being cliche but Emery Lord pulled back just in time, which makes me even further interested in how she develops as a writer.A cute debut with fierce characters and a swoon-worthy romance, this may just be the beach read you've been looking for.Recommended for anybody who loves: The Museum of Intangible Things; Speechless; The Disenchantments