By Terri Osburn
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Reviewed by Janga
Charley Layton knew from an early age that she would become a country music DJ. After seven years of apprenticeship in Liberty, Kentucky, she is living her dream as the newest radio personality at Eagle 101.5, the most popular station in Nashville. Charley is focused on her career. She has no interest in a relationship. When she joins two friends from her station for drinks at the Wildhorse Saloon on her twenty-fifth birthday, all she’s looking for is a low-key celebration and some good music.
Dylan Monroe knows about dreams. He has been paying his dues for years, trying to establish himself in country music. He had a recording contract, but his first album, all his own songs, was never released. Both his label and his manager dumped him. Three and a half years later, Dylan is the first--and temporarily, the only—artist on Shooting Stars, a new label. With the first single from his upcoming album just released, Dylan knows this is his shot. His career requires all his energy and attention.
Charley tries to ignore the hunk in the black Stetson despite his setting all her senses humming, but when she ends up unexpectedly in the spotlight and needs to escape, he comes to her aid. Charley decides she deserves a birthday treat, and she has more in mind than the song her hero promised her. When she leaves the next morning without a goodbye, she thinks Dylan will be no more than a fond memory, but he shows up two days later as an unexpected guest on her show. Angry that the man she thought was a struggling songwriter is a debut artist with a single to promote, Charley tries to freeze him out personally even as she is at her most professional on air, but Dylan’s charm melts the ice. With reservations on her part and determination on his, the two begin a relationship. Can two people with different dreams find their way to an HEA? Add a troublemaker scheming to keep them apart into the mix, and things get really complicated.
Rising Star is the first book in Terri Osburn’s Shooting Stars series. The author does a stellar job of balancing the two essentials of a good introduction to a romance series. First, Osburn gives her readers fully dimensional protagonists with an engaging story that is worthy of the reader’s investment. I loved Charley and Dylan. Charley is sweet and spirited with a strong sense of who she is and a determined independence that seems real. Her profession was an interesting touch. Dylan is sensitive and sexy and centered. He is no angry rebel or brooding Byronic hero with symbolic tattoos. My mother would have called him “a boy who makes his mama proud.” He follows another Osburn hero, Randy Navarro (Home to Stay, Anchor Island #3), on my favorite book boyfriends list. The Nashville setting is also interesting, a departure from the prevailing small-town but distinctly different from big-city settings on the East and West coasts.
Second, without distracting the reader from the lead couple and their relationship, Osburn introduces a group of intriguing supporting characters who clearly merit their own stories. Of particular interest are Clay Benedict, owner of Shooting Stars Records, who promises to be a fascinating and different hero; Chance Colburn, a former country music star fresh out of rehab with scandals behind him, looking for a comeback; Naomi Mallard, Shooting Stars publicist, who has a history with Chance; and Matilda “Matty” Jacobs, Charley’s chip-on-her-shoulder roommate, who may or may not have met her match in Elvis Marigold, a former marine and Charley’s oldest friend. I am eager to learn more about these other Shooting Stars characters. (And, I must add, the English major in me loved playing with all the possible levels of meaning in that series title.)
If you like contemporary romance that is brushed with realism, aims true for the heart, and provides sufficient sizzle without losing the power of a good story, I highly recommend Rising Star.