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Set It Free (Heart & Soul) by Brooke Gillespie-Trout

Updated: May 17, 2020

Blurb: 1986. A time when sitcoms were wholesome, and rock and roll was shameless.

When Alexandra Lorraine, an aspiring actress, unexpectedly meets Slater Heart, a promising rock star, they feel the attraction immediately. Their acquaintance is cut short, thanks to boys behaving badly, and their friendship ends before it has a chance to begin.

Finding himself at a loss with his situation, Slater seeks Alexandra's help. With Slater's persistence and Alexandra's kindness, she makes a snap decision that changes both of their lives.

When their friendship grows, they find a teacher within each other. She had never learned how to live life to the fullest, and he had never learned what true love was all about. As they climb to the top, and their visions become reality, is falling in love enough to give it all up, or do they have the courage to live their dreams and set each other free?

Review: 1986. Set It Free brings us back to the era of discovery. Bands emerging, actors and actresses being discovered, directors and producers making it big. This book captures the spirit of budding artists and makes you wonder if you should have moved to California and tried to achieve the dream of glitz and glamor. (I'm glad I didn't, but if there was ever a book that made me wish for fame and fortune, this is it.)

The novel was a first for me. I've never read a romance novel that was semi-omniscient in the story-telling. The novel isn't divided into chapters that flip between our main characters, but rather switches paragraph to paragraph or page to page depending on what we need to know about what each character is thinking. Sometimes the author even drops us briefly into the minds of secondary characters for short periods of time to get a better understanding of everyone's motivations. This type of story-telling might not be for every reader, but after only a short period of reading I hardly noticed it happening at all.

Alexandra is a bright, open-hearted character who teeters on innocent without falling into the cliche. She helps others without expecting anything return and stands up for herself with force when necessary. And I truly enjoyed learning about the process of becoming an actress, which is something I know absolutely zero about.

Slater Heart is something else. I'm not huge into rock stars, but Slater's devotion to the music and drive to make his dreams come true was contagious throughout the story. Set It Free is different from many other rock star stories because Slater's band isn't quite famous, though they're on their way--so we get a slightly different version of events from those books where the band is already enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Normally the build up of a relationship is just a means to and end for me. I want explosive passion and I want it as soon as possible, but with Slater and Alexandra it was different. Watching their acquaintance turn into a genuine friendship filled me with the sort of comfortable warmth that usually just serves to drive me nuts. Yes, there was always the underlying attraction between them, but Alexandra and Slater are two people who don't even realize, at first, how much they really need to connect with another person. It made the pay off all that much better in the end.

Set It Free is the first in the Heart & Soul series, so don't expect the story to wrap up at the end of the book, but I'm definitely intrigued about the way in which the author will continue the relationship between Alexandra and Slater. Readers who want something primarily sweet with a side of sexy will enjoy the romance, and those who are looking for something a little outside the box writing-wise will enjoy Brooke Gillespie-Trout.

You can scoop up the first book in the series here.


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