Title: Lead the Way
Author: Brittany Carter
Series: Dirty South #1
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Publication Date: April 20, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Received an copy from the author/Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour
Rating: 4 stars
Fresh off the high of college graduation, Melody James is back in her Podunk town. She needs a job, but first, she’ll spend a lazy summer with no agenda at all.
But life’s got other plans for Melody, ones she’d sooner ignore. When the next-door neighbor passes away, his son returns home to take care of his affairs. Thane Cohen hasn’t been home in ten years. The last time he was, someone accused him of murdering Melody’s parents. Now, after major efforts to recover his self-worth and start a construction company, Thane wonders if enough time has passed for him to clear his once good name.
At the time of the murders, Melody was the only person who didn’t believe Thane was responsible. But how could she even suggest otherwise when just about everyone in town was convinced of Thane’s guilt? Her brothers would never allow it. With nothing to lose before, Thane packed up and left, leaving the town and Melody behind. Now that he’s back, rekindling an old flame in Melody and proving his innocence are critical.
When several car windshields get broken and fires start unexpectedly, the world inside their little town is tossed upside down. With Melody’s brother against her, and Thane fighting every attempt she makes at breaking down his walls, Melody’s push for answers leads her to a frightening conclusion. Thane may actually know more about her parents’ death than she was lead to believe. Can she trust him, or has everyone else been right about him all along? Only time will tell if she can let love lead the way.
This book had a lot going on, between the romance between Melody and Thane, and the suspense of the secret knowledge of Melody’s parents’ death that Thane knew. But it wasn’t too much. I was a little nervous going into this because of the romance and the suspenseful mystery aspect, but it ended up being pretty good and blended together nicely.
I won’t hint a single thing about the secret, but I will say, you won’t be disappointed when things come out. It’s big. A lot of novels do that thing where the romantic interest is hiding some kind of secret and when it all comes out, the secret is boring and didn’t even need to be some hidden thing to begin with. My lord this was not the case. The wait was worth the reveal.
Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the southern authenticity of Brittany Carter’s writing. There were so many adorable southern expressions said by the characters and I like how that made the setting of the country/south feel that much more real.
Melody and Thane were both very raw and real characters with an intense romance. Melody had such a kind heart and Thane had somehow managed not to let the cruelty of the world around him turn him into an awful person. Even all of the side characters managed to bring out various emotions from me. If a couple of the guys from the book somehow stepped on some broken glass, I wouldn’t be mad about it.
One small thing, but it’s more a word of advice to a future reader than an actual complaint about the book itself. Go into reading this without reading the synopsis. I feel like some parts of it are a little misleading or some things that do happen, occur way later on in the novel so you’re just kind of waiting for things to happen. I still enjoyed the novel a lot and would very much recommend it. Just avoid the synopsis, if possible. This is one of those books where it would be nice to go into it without knowing anything.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. When I first started it, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it, but it ended up being a 4 star read, which is pretty great for me. I hope you guys get the chance to pick this one up and that you enjoy it as well.
About Brittany Carter:
Brittany Booker Carter previously writing as Alla Kar. I’m a Christian, lover or romance, a wife and mother to a wild-child!