An ARC copy was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
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Release Date: February 3, 2021
I want to start by elaborating on the fact that I obtained this book via an ARC I specifically requested. As a huge fan of LJ Evans’, I am part of her ARC Team and have a deep appreciation for her stories and how she weaves loss and sorrow into something intimately powerful to the reader.
Before I dig into this review, I also want to point out that she’s one of very few authors that I know of who puts a big emphasis on a playlist that accompanies each and every one of her books. It truly is amazing to read her books while having the playlist going in the background. I’ve always felt that it brings me closer not only to the character she brings to life, but to her as well. The way she felt or was motivated by different scenes and emotions bleeding through the pages.
Branded By a Song was an incredibly emotional romance story that had me tearing up pretty regularly throughout the entire novel. If you’re familiar with LJ Evans, than you know this is part of an entire series of books that make up her Anchor Series. Therefore, I had met both of these main characters in the previous novel Damaged Desires. The main female character, Tristan, moved my heart when I met her before and I already knew I was going to be emotional with this being her centrally focused story. Her backstory is that she lost her husband four and a half years ago. He was a Navy SEAL and lost his life in battle. Tristan has never been the same, but she has done her best to raise her daughter and care for themselves on their own while battling the loss and grief.
But now we get to learn more about Tristan, her daughter, the grandmother Elana and how Brady O’Neil – Country Music Super Star – is tied to them all in the amazing small town of Orchard Grove.
As I previously mentioned, this was an intense read. Tristan is processing an incredible amount of grief over losing her husband and has kind of resigned herself to being alone the rest of her life and living in this in-between grey area where she’s never really fully happy but never quite falling apart either.
Brady is returning home to his little sister and family to stay for the holidays, and get back in touch with his musical muse, when a big announcement from his little sister has him making plans to stay around a bit more often.
The common thread between Brady and Tristan finally draws them together, after living their lives always hearing about the other but never actually meeting in person. UNTIL NOW. One of the things I think I loved the most about this story is that both characters feel so deeply and neither one really tries to lead the other one on. Their is a lot of frankness between the characters, but also understanding of each others circumstances. But it’s impossible to walk away from someone that has made you feel more alive than you ever have in your life. This goes for both characters. Plus Tristan’s daughter, Hannah, is about the sweetest and most endearing supporting character you’re going to find.
Bringing together the small town romance feel while also encapsulating a VAST range of emotion and characters, LJ Evans took my heart on another ride that left me feeling spent, drained, relieved and sated at the end. Brady and Tristan get everything they both deserved in life and I was weeping at the end of the story. Overcome with more emotion than I knew what to do with – causing my husband to reach over and ask me what in the world I was reading.
I will never be able to say enough about her writing style, but she weaves a story in a way that you’re watching artwork; whether fine art, lyrical or dimensional. it takes you on a visionary experience like no other and always leaves me feeling like I just reunited with an old friend after a lifetime of being apart.