4.5 “Young to New Adult Romantic Gold” Stars for the story and narration!
Abbi Glines tore my heart apart and put it back together again in Under the Lights. I could not put my earbuds down desperate to learn more about the true circumstances that had shaped the lives of the characters in this high-school, small southern town based romance. In Under the Lights, Ms. Glines expertly weaves together a story that demonstrates her strength as a writer as she hooks the listener in by her ingenious slow reveal of the culmination of the various life altering circumstances that form the backdrop for the secret motivations and inadvertent actions in this romantic drama. Ms. Glines keeps you guessing at every turn not just with respect to the suspense aspect of the background of a number of the characters but also by crafting a compelling love triangle. This love triangle is further complemented by the talented trio narration style used in narrating Under the Lights.
Although this is the second book in The Field Party Series, it could easily be listened to as a standalone as the romance is fully contained within this book. All that said, it is clear that several of the characters are introduced in the prior book, so if you plan to listen to the whole series anyway, then its probably best enjoyed in order.
Willa has a lot of regrets, but the one highlight of her life is and always has been her grandmother. So when she’s sent back to go live with her grandmother in the small southern town where she was raised, she is saddened but determined to make her grandmother believe she is reformed. To bring this plan to action she will concentrate on school, graduating and helping her grandmother and forego allowing herself to develop any other close relationships.
However, Willa’s plans are quickly tested, when she soon finds herself the center of attention. As a child she had two best friends, Brady and Gunner. Brady is the perpetual golden boy. Not only is he the popular high school quarterback, but he is also a sweet soul–the type of guy you can always trust to do the right thing. Then there is Gunner, the perpetual bad boy. However, the family he comes from (the Lawton family which practically owns the whole town), allows Gunner to get away with many things that others would not be able to. Gunner is the party boy, the kind of guy who never has a girl more than once, but underneath the surface, the truth lies, and the one thing he wants the most, he can never have.
When it becomes clear that Willa has attracted the eye of both Brady and Gunner–and not just in a friendship way–relationships and future goals will be tested, and slowly secrets will be revealed that will change their lives forever.
Jeremy York, Rebekkah Ross, and Jacques Roy narrate Under the Lights in a slight twist on the typical new adult style. Usually there are only two narrators: one male and one female who narrate the hero’s and heroine’s chapters, respectively. In this case, given the love triangle, we get an added bonus of having three narrators. Mr. York and Roy narrate the chapters from Brady’s and Gunner’s point of view, while Ms. Ross narrates the one’s from Willa’s. This style works well to easily differentiate the point of view being shared.
All three narrators do a good job of providing differentiated voices for the various characters which allows you to sit back and enjoy the reading of this dramatic tale. Additionally, I enjoyed the southern accents that they utilized which lent further authenticity to this tale. Last but not least, I thought each narrator timed their delivery well for maximum enjoyment of the emotions being enacted in the story.
Perhaps my only observation in this story is that I would have liked a more detailed ending. I think the intended audience of this romance may be partly to blame, but it almost felt like while the HEA was alluded to and implied, but we never truly get the details. Absent this observation, my rating would have been 5-stars as I simply loved every other aspect of this story.
If you enjoy angst-filled romantic dramas that keep your emotions at high alert until the very end, and enjoy young adult to new adult cross-over romance titles, then I highly recommend Under the Lights.
Source: Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review.