From Tracey Garvis Graves, the bestselling author of The Girl He Used to Know comes a love song of a story about starting over and second chances in Heard It in a Love Song.
Love doesn’t always wait until you’re ready.
Layla Hilding is thirty-five and recently divorced. Struggling to break free from the past—her glory days as the lead singer in a band and a ten-year marriage to a man who never put her first—Layla’s newly found independence feels a lot like loneliness.
Then there's Josh, the single dad whose daughter attends the elementary school where Layla teaches music. Recently separated, he's still processing the end of his twenty-year marriage to his high school sweetheart. He chats with Layla every morning at school and finds himself thinking about her more and more.
Equally cautious and confused about dating in a world that favors apps over meeting organically, Layla and Josh decide to be friends with the potential for something more. Sounds sensible and way too simple—but when two people are on the rebound, is it heartbreak or happiness that’s a love song away?
Graves (The Girl He Used to Know) takes an in-depth look at the pain of divorce and the work it takes to build a new life. Layla Hilding and Josh Summers first meet at back-to-school night, Layla as a welcoming music teacher and Josh as the father to nervous kindergartner Sasha. The two become friendly through conversations at morning drop-off, and their relationship deepens as they connect over their recent divorces. But both come with wounds that are still fresh: Layla's messy split with Liam, a status-hungry salesman with a spending problem, has left her with trust issues, while Josh copes with co-parenting with his ex-wife, Kimberly. Both Josh and Layla use their single lives as a fresh start: Layla rediscovers her love for performing and Josh searches for his own identity and desires separate from Kimberly. As their connection grows, they'll have to put aside their hesitations for a second chance at love. Extensive flashbacks to Layla's doomed relationship with Liam and Josh's civil but passionless marriage to Kimberly tend to distract, though, making it difficult to invest in the present relationship. Still, Graves has a sure hand with depicting the complexity of dating after divorce. This will please readers looking for a realistic spin on taking a second chance at love.
Sweet and cerebral
3.5 stars rounded up!
One of my most-anticipated books of the year, Heard It in a Love Song is the latest book by author Tracey Garvis Graves. While this story is engaging and sweet, it’s not the romance I expected—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I read this one quickly, never growing bored, but wanting just a little more.
I’ve read two of Graves’ previous books: the book she may be best known for, On the Island, and The Girl He Used to Know, which I enjoyed much more.
Graves is a wonderful storyteller but I find her writing technique lacking at times. Sometimes I feel like she’s telling me things instead of showing me, and each time I read one of her books, I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly is missing. But I’m always engaged in the story and her characters are well-developed.
Heard It in a Love Song is no different. I immediately connected with the two main characters—Layla and Josh. But this is a slow-moving romance. The reader spends a lot of time in their pasts, as well as the present. Graves has written the story by using things in the characters’ present to trigger memories from the past, slowly revealing what caused the dissolution of their previous marriages. And rehashing old relationships may sound off-putting, but I was surprised by how much I didn’t mind.
This novel is much more cerebral than I expected. It’s less of a romance and more about finding closure and peace after the end of a seminal relationship. There is a love story, but it’s not what’s really at the front and center of this book. It’s a nice one to curl up with when you want a book that’s more contemplative.
Thank you to the publisher, St. Martins Press, and Netgalley for providing me with an advance copy.