Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Dirty Little SecretDirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols
Published by: MTV Books on July 16, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Music, Romance
Pages: 288
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★½

From the author of the “real page-turner” (Seventeen) Such a Rush comes an unforgettable new drama that follows friends-turned-lovers as they navigate the passions, heartbreaks, and intrigue of country music fame.

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

This review contains unmarked spoilers. I simply cannot write the review without them!

There is one big, massive problem with Dirty Little Secret, and it comes in the form of a seriously big douchebag named Sam—the love interest. Before I talk about what a massive asshat he is, let me give you a bit of essential background information.

Bailey always played the fiddle and sang with her sister, Julie. They were a duet for years and years and years. Then, Julie got a music contract, but Bailey didn’t. And on top of that, the company who picked up Julie insisted that Bailey be hidden away. She’s not allowed to play music, have social media accounts, or make it known that she’s Julie’s sister. The reason is that the music company doesn’t want the public to pick up on the fact that they separated Julie from her “duet partner”/sister because it would give them bad press. And Julie’s parents are 100% compliant in this.

So, Bailey meets Sam and at first he seems like an okay guy and a brilliant musician. He’s seems nice, funny, and obviously hot. The first red flag to me was when they had ZERO romantic development, and then they kissed. Totally out of nowhere. He was just like, “I’m going to kiss you.” Totally randomly. Then later that day they’re practically having sex in his car (not quite that far, but lots of groping, clothes coming off, making out).

Then the second red flag came up when Sam’s bandmate informed Bailey that he’s had 50 girlfriends and uses the same lines on them all (the exact same ones he used on Bailey). He uses the lines to hook girls in, then dates them until he gets bored, then breaks up with them. But more on that later.

So, from there, huge horrible things exploded. Bailey told Sam all about her situation. She didn’t say who her sister was (didn’t give him a name), but she gave him the whole story about her parents, the record company, being forced to stay hidden, etc. And Sam was 100% on her side. He basically said, “Screw your parents! You don’t need them anyway!” But then, a few days later, he found out exactly who her sister was and how incredibly big and successful Julie was going to be. Then, he flipped a bitch at Bailey. He was SO mad at her for not telling him. And he DEMANDED that she go crawling back to her parents, kiss their asses, and try to get an “in” with the record company for their band. But he KNEW that Bailey was supposed to stay invisible, so why would the record company give her the time of day? He just wanted to use Bailey and her “connections” to promote his band; he literally did a complete 180 because he realized that he could profit from Bailey’s horrible situation.

Obviously this upset Bailey, but not as much as I would have thought. She was mad at him for a while, then went crawling back to him and had sex with him… WHAT THE HELL?!?!? And after sex, this exact conversation happened, starting with Bailey:

“I started the night thinking that way, Sam, but now… don’t you want to try to work this out?” [their relationship]
“Are you going to ask your family to try to get an in for our band?”
“Then we can’t be together.”


Let’s recap:

Sam uses his “lines” on Bailey (the ones he uses on all the girls) to gain her trust and get her to like him. He toys with her for a while and seems like he might still be an okay guy… then he completely turns on her when he realizes that she has a connection to a record company and didn’t tell him. Now that she is refusing to help him “profit”, he totally bails on her. For some reason Bailey isn’t that phased and goes running to him for sex, stupidly thinking that she might get a relationship out of it too. Sam is totally fine with the sex, but when she inquires about a relationship afterwards, he makes it clear that he can only be with her if she helps him get a record deal.

But in the end he apologizes, so it’s okay that he was an asshole. O_O (not)

Overall, Bailey’s whole relationship with Sam was terrible. It was gross, manipulative, one-sided, and they were completely wrong for each other. I can’t believe she gave Sam the time of day after he turned on her like that.

At first, I did really enjoy the music in Dirty Little Secret. It was a really interesting part of the book, and as a result, I started out reading Dirty Little Secret on a positive note. But soon, it just downward spiralled. On top of everything I’ve already said, Sam’s band was a nightmare. In fact, the whole band reminded me of Sam and Bailey’s relationship. It was an unhealthy relationship and they were all totally wrong for each other and should not be in a band together. They fought all the time and it gave me whiplash and a headache like you wouldn’t believe. Charlotte was a complete bitch in particular. So maybe, in that sense, they did all deserve each other, because they were all pretty horrible.

Now, so we can end on a positive note, here’s a really awesome violin video.

The Verdict


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    1. Yeah, in my eyes, the guy did NOTHING to redeem himself (except apologize). But he was such a huge asshole that it would take sooo much more than that for me to ever forgive him… if I even can forgive him. He was such a prick.

  1. i haven’t read this – and am not likely to now – but I’m trying to wrap my head around two things here….the fact that a record company demanded a younger sibling pretty much “disappear” (no music making, no telling anyone she is the sister)….cos hello, could that really happen in the slightest in real life?? Doesn’t Jessica Simpson have a sister? Or Hilary Duff? (i have no idea if I have the names right…) And the second…that the character pursued a “love interest” who made it quite clear that he only wanted to be with her to get a record company deal. Unless they don’t actually end up together, and the whole story is actually about her seeing what a douche he really is and leaving him. I’m getting the feel I had with “Acid” – where the entire story is based upon something that is so ludicrous and ridiculous that you just can’t get past that.

    Jaki recently posted: The Blue Blazes – Chuck Wendig
    1. I know, isn’t that ridiculous?? I can’t believe a record company would ask that, and I can’t believe her parents would comply with it! That just sounds absurd. O_O

      And I can’t believe Bailey went after Sam after what he said… god. It was all just so unbelievable.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it a bit more than I did! I thought I might forgive Sam too if he apologized right away. I thought he was going to apologize after they had sex. But at that point, he’d had time to cool down and rethink his stance, but he STILL said he wouldn’t date her if she wouldn’t talk to the record company for him. WTF?? That’s when he lost his chance in my book.

  2. I agree with you completely. I HATED Sam and the relationship was a major turn off. The Music and writing kind of salvaged things for me, and I enjoyed Bailey’s journey in the personal sense, how she learned to stop blaming all the world for her misfortune and grow up.
    But, yeah… this was my first Jennifer Echols book and I was far from impressed :/

    1. I just read your review and it was great! Although I wasn’t crazy about the band, I agree with you that some of the music bits were interesting. I liked how Bailey was so good at the fiddle and her having perfect pitch was cool!

  3. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Jennifer Echols’ work. After being gravely disappointed by Such A Rush, I was interested in reading Dirty Little Secret to see if her newest work was any better. After your review, I’m wondering if perhaps I should simply follow my first instinct and avoid her work entirely as it’s clearly not for me.

    Putting aside the absolutely ludicrous notion that a record company would ensure that a performer’s sister ‘disappear’ in order to further her career (If, presumably, Julie was discovered while performing with Bailey, why only sign one sister? If they’re already established that they are a duet, why the sudden desire to separate them? Furthermore, how would having a sister that she used to perform with impact Julie’s career negatively in any way?) there are few things worse than a disappointing, selfish love interest. Sam sounds like scum and I can’t imagine ever rooting for Bailey and Sam’s relationship to work out.

    It looks like I’ll be giving this book a very wide berth. Thanks for the wonderful review, Ashley, and for reading this one so that we wouldn’t have to! 😉

    Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted: Review: Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey
    1. I haven’t read Such a Rush, but my guess is that you probably won’t like this book! There are just so many unlikeable things about it. 🙁

      The record company’s “reason” for not signing Bailey was because “Single female singers are all the rage right now,” so they weren’t interested in a duet. I mean, maybe it would have made sense if Bailey was amazing, but Bailey herself was crap. But it’s made clear throughout the story that Bailey is an EXCELLENT fiddle player (and a decent backup singer). So I don’t think signing Bailey on as well as her sister would have made the music any worse O_O It would have only made it better.


  4. Oh hon – I totalyl get your frustartion and Sam drove me nuts too. I just tried to see him in a different light… which not always worked:) But I found the complexity of these characters to be pretty great which is why I liked it more than you did – I think.

    But yes.. Sam went from holyhottness to douchbag and a minstep back.. lol!!

    1. I’m glad you liked it a bit more! I wish I liked the book more because I love the idea of it and some of the music parts were cool. If we could just replace Sam with someone nice, that would be great! LOL

  5. Yeah, wasn’t my favorite read either… Sam is total douchebag and the fact she liked that bothers me immensely. Hard to like such flaky characters. I wouldn’t like people like that in real life.
    My review is set to come…. this will all be in it.

    Freda Mans recently posted: Romwe Tops Collection Sale
  6. Yikes! As a serious Echols fan, I couldn’t read your review. I want to read the book more now, just to see if it’s THAT bad. If so, I promise to come back and give you a hi-5.

    1. For your sake, I really hope you like it Sara! At least some of the music bits are cool!

  7. I read this book, too. I hated Sam as well. O.O He was a horrible part of the book, but I liked Bailey and HER story. I thought Sam said he didn’t want to sign with a record company because he wanted to do his “own” music. (then he was sort of condescending towards people who write their own music..)But then he is a complete ass- hat to her and wants to use her. I figured out a way to forgive him a little. I sort of imagined him as handicapped, since that is how he sort of acted throughout a good portion of the book. I mean. in the beginning he was okay. Even a little sweet. O.O That can be the only explanation for why he ended up the way he did. lol. Loved your review. I also hated her parents a little. Okay, well her mother. Sam and her mother.

  8. I waited to read your review until I’d finished the book/thought about it, so late comment. But boy do I agree with you. I took a chance on it, since contemporary isn’t my favorite genre (but I’ve been finding some good books this year), but gods. Sam. So freaking horrible. I’m trying to figure out how to review it now.

    Leeanna @ Leeanna.me recently posted: Book Review: Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney

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