Guitars and Gardenias by Sierra Ann Hill
To Matson Daley, renowned country singer and pop culture celebrity, there isn’t anything that provides quite the same rush and release as making music for a rowdy crowd. Handsome and talented – and with an A-list actress as his girlfriend – Matson is well versed in the seductive power of music – but he isn’t quite used to being seduced himself. Leah Hayes is a retired music business executive with early-stage Parkinson’s disease. Beautiful and independent, she’s made a good show of hiding her illness with medication and poise, but it can’t help but make her nervous about starting a new relationship. And then she sees one of Matson’s music videos while flipping through television channels; instantly, she can feel an unexplainable connection between them. After attending one of his shows, the pair becomes acquainted and strikes out on a romantic path together. But no matter how much fun she’s having, Leah knows that she’ll soon have to divulge her secret and possibly end up with a broken heart. Yet, she isn’t the only one harboring secrets. Matson’s past holds a few more surprises than country music and acoustic guitars – surprises that could end up irrevocably hurting Leah.
Reminiscent of music-driven television shows like Nashville, Guitars and Gardenias is a feast for the senses. The writing is top notch, with a hint of ironic humor simmering beneath its surface. Not to mention that this represents a welcome departure from the traditional romance novel. Leah is certainly sexy and successful, but she’s also the victim of a very real disease, the exact cause of which is still unknown. Hill provides an accurate portrayal of a woman struggling to both protect herself and keep her heart open to love at the same time, and the debate surrounding her condition can easily be applied to other illnesses like cancer or HIV. In the end, Guitars and Gardenias strikes a very clear chord with readers, encouraging us all to follow our hearts and listen to the music that surrounds us every day.
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