Louder Than Love by Jessica Topper is women's fiction with very, very strong romantic elements. Now that I've publicly disclosed that - it should give you an idea of what sort of book we're dealing with here. In a nutshell, one that gets better as it goes along.
Katrina ("Tree" or "Kat") Lewis is a single mother and a librarian. She passionately loved her husband, and tragically lost him in a train accident before their daughter, Abbey, even turned a year old. She left New York City, moved back home into her parents' house and grieved. In fact, she's still somewhat grieving, although her pack of girlfriends think it's time for her to get her groove back.
It's while she's planning a library music program for kiddies that she meets Adrian Graves. She wants him because he wrote the theme song for a PBS cartoon series about a Sherlock Holmes-like cat. The problem is tracking him down. The guy isn't exactly easy to find - but find him she does - and after she dangles a small paycheck in front of his nose - he agrees. What she doesn't realize? He doesn't exactly need the money. Adrian (under a different name) was once a member of an influential heavy metal band.
This story, in a nutshell, can be summed up as Heroine Meets Hero, they spend time together, they eventually realize they love each other. Conflict? Um, yeah. The conflict is basically a whole bunch of navel-gazing. Lots of internal monologue'ing, especially in the early chapters, and very little heft to the angst until further along in the book. Hell, Kat doesn't even find out about Adrian's heavy metal past until you're 50% (thank you Kindle) through the book.
The author tries to spice things up with a "villain" of sorts - but there's no bite to him and Kat just comes off looking stupid (Cupcake, when you notice that someone has driven a screwdriver through one of your car tires - you call the cops to file a police report. Even if you only suspect who did it - hell, even if you have no suspicions whatsoever who did it. The cops have it on record in case there is a rash of vandalism, or you know, you have a crazy psycho stalker who starts leaving dead kittens on your front porch). Other filler includes Kat's group of girlfriends who frankly annoyed the crud out of me. It didn't really help matters that everyone has a slightly "hipster turned Mommy brigade" vibe to them.
For the record, I loathe hipsters. I don't really think I'm alone on this one either.
Nobody likes hipsters. It's why they're called "hipsters."
It's a very slow book. A very, very slow book. The kind of book that I suspect more than a few people would DNF. How a book about a librarian and a rock star could end up so boring is anybody's guess - but that's what happens here.
Now, on to the good. The emotional stuff is well done. I liked that Kat wasn't a "token widow" and 1) loved her dead husband and 2) struggles with "moving on." I also liked Abbey (named after The Beatles album Abbey Road - gah, hipsters!), who seemed like a normal kid and doesn't stray into precocious matchmaking tot. I also thought the "music stuff" was really well done. Actually if I had to pick the top positive of this story - that would be it. If you're a music junkie (even if you don't like heavy metal) - this aspect of the plot (such as it is) is done quite well.
So where does that leave us? Well, somewhere around average. It did get better the deeper I got into the book, mostly because I got more invested in Kat and Adrian as a couple. But I'm not going to lie - I was glad when I got to the end and could move on to something else.
Final Grade = C-