After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
(Summary from GoodReads)
I originally overlooked Open Road Summer because it didn’t look like anything special to me, but I wound up requesting it on NetGalley because everyone was raving about it and I love a good summer read. I loved reading about Dee and Reagan’s friendship, and enjoyed the fact that Lord had turned Dee into a Taylor Swift kind of character. At times I connected a little too much with Reagan, and a few celebrity aspects of the story bored me, so I didn’t quite love this one the way some bloggers did.
The strongest part of Open Road Summer is the setting. I could envision precisely where Reagan lived and what every place she visited. Lord’s prose didn’t knock me over with glee, but it had some standout passages that were worth writing down.
Reagan’s personal life up until her decision to tour with Lilah has been difficult. Her parents haven’t been the most reliable people, and she’s made some difficult choices personally and romantically. She’s guarded and very protective of the people she loves, and could be super judgmental of other girls. A few times I found myself cringing if Reagan said something particularly judgey or mean because it felt like Lord took the qualities I see in myself that I least like and put them in her character. Other readers may find seeing themselves in Reagan this less off-putting and uncomfortable then I did.
Lilah and Reagan had a great friendship, and it was interesting to see how Lilah’s celebrity affected their relationship. Lord focused on some celebrity drama and I didn’t care for that aspect of the story. It felt like Lord copied a real life situation, but didn’t weave it adeptly into the story enough to make it feel genuine or interesting.
Everyone and their pet pig is freaking out over Matt Finch. Objectively, I saw his appeal—he’s an attractive, sweet, sharp-witted guitar player who is determined to stand by Reagan even when she gets a little too stubborn. However, I am fussy about love interests, and for me he didn't bring anything especially new or noteworthy to the table. Don't get me wrong--the romance was still enjoyable--but for me it was more about Reagan and how she grew by the end of the story.
My problems with Open Road Summer are small, and ultimately personal and subjective, but they were enough to stop me from totally loving this book. Lord is definitely a skilled writer, and I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if her future books are a better fit for me. I know some people are less fussy than I am, so I’d be quick to pass this on to anyone who loves a good summer romance with a healthy dose of music and friendship.
Disclosure: I received an electronic galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.