Imagine reading a love story so raw, so pure, so filled with emotions, that the author decides to show out and does it twice. That's exactly what Kennedy Ryan does in this read. Not only do readers get the story of Neevah and Canon, but they also get a glimpse into the world of Dessi and Tilda. Neevah is a struggling artist that's an understudy on Broadway. When the star of the show goes on vacation, Neevah gets her big break. Neevah gives the performance of a lifetime and Canon Holt is there to witness it for himself. Immediately he knows that he must have Neevah as the star in his upcoming biopic, Dessi Blue. "But from the moment she steps onstage, this understudy, something kindles inside of me. At first, it's merely a flicker of recognition. Not that I know her or have seen her before. I recognize this feeling of finding something unexpected and exceptional." Initially, readers, along with Canon think that he's casting for his movie, but eventually we realize he's casting for a much bigger role. "And in a moment when I wasn't looking, I've found exactly what I was looking for."
Neevah was a teenage girl with dreams. An eighteen-year-old with a scholarship to Rutgers drama program, a fiancé, and a family that loved and supported her. But when her sister reveals that she's pregnant, everything changes in the blink of an eye. Neevah leaves home to embark on her new life and new journey, never looking back on Clearview, North Carolina. When Canon realizes her talent and potential, she's cast as Dessi Blue, which is the big break she needs, if only she can keep her attraction for her new director at bay. "Just as I think I've safely disguised my fascination with Canon, I feel the weight of his stare on me, and when I look up, there is an undeniable knowledge in those dark eyes. A recognition. An awareness. That same pull I felt sitting with him on the bed in Alabama, riffling through Dessi's memories, resurfaces between us, doubling my heartbeat." The chemistry between Neevah and Canon is sweltering and undeniable, but if they act on their feelings, how will it look to the outside world with the new star being romantically involved with the director.
Canon Holt knows what it's like to lose a loved one. Watching his mother battle MS showed him firsthand how hard it can be. Even at the age of 20, he still learned valuable life lessons from his mom. "Boy we all gonna die. Question is, how did you live? Did you live or just wait for death to come?" Her last request was to him was one filled with love and concern. "It's the love of my life, but as much as you love your art, Canon, I want you to find someone you can love more." When Neevah enters Canon's life, a life that he's used to having so much control over, she takes him by storm, making him feel things he's never felt before. When Neevah suddenly falls ill, he's reminded of his mother and the feelings that he's worked so hard to forget are now front and center. "One small woman has turned my world upside down, capsized all my priorities. And not knowing how she's doing, I'm adrift."
Amid Canon and Neevah's story readers get to indulge in a bit of the screenplay of Dessi Blue. Readers get a glimpse in to a forbidden romance from the early 1900s that's just as captivating as the original storyline. Odessa Johnson and Matilda Hargrove meet by fate one night outside the theater, their friendship almost instantaneous. But as fate would also have it, Odessa meets Cal Hampton who catapults her singing career, forcing her to leave Matilda behind. After a few scenes readers can relate to why Canon felt Dessi's story needed to be told.
Within the first few pages the author draws you in and makes you love the characters and everything about them. You can literally feel the attraction between the main characters with each flip of the page. The story flowed effortlessly. Even with the brief intermissions of Dessi's story, it still flowed. This story evoked the ten basic emotions in me and left me reeling for more at the end. I wanted to hurry up and read it so I could know how their story ended, but I also wanted to slow down and let the scenes marinate. Kennedy Ryan painted a picture so clear; I was able to imagine the scenes in my head. This book will be placed on my list of top books released in 2021, and I'm sure it will be on plenty more. This was a slow burn romance that I hoped would never end. Great read!!