Release Day Post and Review: Melody of the Heart: Katie Ashley

Melody of the Heart 
(Runaway Train #3.5)
Katie Ashley
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As the Runaway Train family gathers in Savannah, Georgia for the wedding of its last single member, Rhys McGowan, to Allison Slater, Jake's little sister, Rolling Stone magazine prepares an issue to celebrate the union. While focusing on the happy couple, they also sit down with Brayden and Lily Vanderburg for a feature on successful rock star marriages. After all, the two have been a couple since they were sixteen years old. But there is more to the story than meets the eye, and their love took a slight detour before finding happily ever after.

Told in flashbacks from the present to the past, Brayden and Lily share the story of their unbreakable love.

I then turned my attention to Giovanni. “Once again, my deepest apologies for being late.”

“It’s all right.”
Cocking my head at him, I asked, “Did my lovely wife give you the sad sap story as to why I’m not always with it?”
Giovanni grinned. “Yes, she did. And I have to say it was quite fascinating hearing about your head injury and how it without it, you might not be where you are today.”
With a chuckle, I replied, “I would have to say that’s the truth because if it weren’t for the short-term memory issue shit, I would have been here a lot earlier.”
Waving his hand dismissively at my joke, Giovanni said, “I don’t think most of our readers or your fans know that you didn’t grow up playing guitar or having the desire to be a rock star. That without the football related injury, you would have never taken up the guitar or written your first song.”
I shifted in my seat. Talking about my injury always made the hairs stand up on the back of my arms and neck. It was one of those life-altering moments that set me on an entirely different path I could never have imagined. At sixteen, my entire universe revolved around the emerald green grass of the field and the smell of pigskin in my hands. I had my eye on a college scholarship and maybe some time in the NFL. I was that good.
But life changes in an instant—a play you had executed flawlessly a hundred times before can go so very wrong. Instead of being carted off victoriously on the shoulders of your teammates, you leave in a neck brace laid out on a stretcher. A cracked vertebrae that narrowly missed severing your spine brings the curtains down on your dream. But then you realize that the life you thought was ending was truly just beginning.
The squeeze of Lily’s hand brought me out of the past and back to the present. I cleared my throat. “Yes, it is true that my life would be so very different and not for the better. But I don’t mean in the sense of not having the fortune or the fame.” I turned to gaze at Lily and smiled. “I might not have Lily by my side.”
She brought my hand to her lips and kissed it. “When I was seventeen, I told you I’d follow you anywhere and everywhere. If your life had taken you somewhere else, I would have been there.”
“Thank God,” I murmured.
“So was it love at first sight for you?” Giovanni asked, leaning in expectantly.
Lily tilted her head at me before giggling. “Not exactly.”
Giovanni’s dark brows knit together. “Oh?”
I couldn’t help the smile that stretched across my face as the familiar memory played in my mind. “I owe my marriage to my lovely wife’s penchant for apple thievery.”
Lily sputtered with outrage. “I was not stealing apples. We had just moved in, and I wasn’t sure where our property ended and your grandparents began.”
After winking at her, I focused my gaze on Giovanni’s amused one. “The first time I ever laid eyes on Lily she was wearing a blue sundress with a satin ribbon in her hair. She could have had the face of an angel, but I wouldn’t have noticed because she had the hem of her dress flipped up to cradle the apples she was picking from my grandparents’ tree. All I could focus on were her long, tanned legs and the brief glimpse I got at what was between them.”
“Brayden Michael Vanderburg!” Lily exclaimed. Just hearing her call my full name caused warmth to enter my chest. I loved her voice, I loved her outrage, and I loved that a woman as amazing as she was actually loved me.
“I’m just answering the man’s question, sweetheart,” I replied. Leaning forward in my chair, I then began the story of the day that changed my life….

“But you gave me the melody I never knew I had...The melody straight from my heart.”
We have admired Brayden and Lily's strong relationship through the whole Runaway Train series. They are the established couple, the parents, the stable ones, the couple you aspire to be. But now we get to listen to them reminisce about their younger days: meeting, courtship, proposal, and hard times. It was not always easy and perfect for these two, but we know they came out stronger in the end,

I've always loved Brayden. And now we not only see him as the devoted husband and father, but we also get to know the endearing romantic, young man at sixteen and a bit older. And we also get a glimpse at what sudden fame and fortune can do to an  even a normally level headed guy.

And we see various sides of Lily...sweet, sassy, innocent, sexy, and strong. She was devoted to Brayden and his dreams, but also had her own.  She felt the stress of their differing life paths. And when he changed too much to be the man she had fallen in love with, she had to find her inner strength and make choices to protect herself.

Told in past and present in both points of view, we follow them through good and bad times over the years. I loved their sweet, romantic moments and milestones, and my heart also broke with their challenges, struggles, and pain. But it eventually comes down to fighting for what is most important and what is needed to be truly happy. The strength, love, and devotion of this couple shines through. This was truly a journey for them. 

“I’ll always fight for you, Lily. I’ll always fight for us.

It was not only a journey for them as a couple, but really for the whole band as well. I loved seeing the younger band and their interactions as well as seeing them mature. They are so funny when they taunt each other, but there are also some underlying dynamics we never really knew. And the foreshadowing to the other guys' stories is funny because in the past they all think they are immune to love and want no part of it. Little did they know...

Seeing the beginning for both this couple and the band gives us new perspective and knowing all of the challenges they went through makes where they end up even more special. And speaking of where they end up, we get to see  a bit more into the future after Strings of the Heart left off with Rhys and Allison.

There were some memorable times that made me sigh and smile. And there were parts that made me sad or angry. But overall, it was sweet, heartfelt, funny, passionate and emotional. I truly love these characters and their relationships. They really are a family that has weathered storms together. I hate to see the series end and let these characters go. I am pushing for a continuation of the series about their offspring. Hear that Katie?! Never say never. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Music of Heart (Runaway Train#1)
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For Abby Renard, the plan was supposed to be simple—join her brothers’ band on the last leg of their summer tour and decide if she’s finally ready for the limelight by becoming its fourth member. Of course, she never imagined stumbling onto the wrong tour bus at Rock Nation would accidentally land her in the bed of Jake Slater, the notorious womanizing lead singer of Runaway Train. When he mistakes her for one of his groupie’s, Abby quickly lets him know she sure as hell isn't in his bed on purpose.

Jake Slater never imagined the angel who fell into his bed would resist his charms by promptly kneeing him in the balls. Of course, the fact she seems like a prissy choir girl makes her anything but his type. So he is more than surprised when after betting Abby she wouldn’t last a week on their tour bus, she is more than willing to prove him wrong. But as Jake’s personal life begins to implode around him, he finds an unlikely ally in Abby. He’s never met a woman he can talk to, joke with, or most importantly make music with.

As the week starts comes to a close, neither Abby nor Jake is ready to let go. Can a sweetheart Country songstress and a bad boy of Rock N Roll actually have a future together?

Beat of the Heart (Runaway Train #2)

After years of bad relationships and a cheating ex-fiancé, twenty-eight-year-old Mia Martinelli prefers healing her patients’ hearts on the Cardiac Care floor rather than risking having her heart broken again. But that all comes to a screeching halt when caring for the head roadie for Runaway Train puts her into the orbit of drummer and Latin Lover, AJ Resendiz. After a scorching weekend of steamy passion, Mia’s intention of getting out with her heart unscathed is challenged by the stud with the wicked sense of humor, especially when he wants to continue seeing her. But when the harsh reality of AJ’s hoard of female admirers sends her insecurities into overdrive, Mia bails, leaving him handcuffed to his bathroom shower. 

AJ never imagined that after two weeks of the best sex and female companionship he’d ever experienced, he would need rescued by his band mates from his shower prison. Although he tries to forget the sensual brunette whose curves made his mouth water, AJ can’t get her out of his mind…or his heart. Months later when he finally seeks Mia for answers as to why she left, nothing could prepare him for their life-altering reunion.

Can AJ prove to Mia that regardless of the women after his body, his heart belongs only to her?
Music of the Soul (Runaway Train #2.5)

In Music of the Heart, an unexpected twist of fate caused Abby Renard to fall into womanizer Jake Slater’s bed. What started out as a small spark between the unlikely pair, grew into a deep and intense love. After a year-long engagement, the two have finally been able to set a wedding date. It’s off to Mexico for a destination ceremony on a private beach. After a heated week long honeymoon in a tropical paradise, the two return to the real world of touring and making music together. 

As the newlyweds settle into married life, another twist of fate challenges their love. For once, Abby isn’t able to be the rock of strength that Jake needs. Can the two of them hold on to the strong foundation of love they have built, or will it crumble under the pressure?

Strings of the Heart (Runaway Train #3)

Twenty year old, Allison Slater has been in love with her brother’s bandmate, Rhys McGowan, since she was fifteen years old. But to him, she’ll always be Jake’s little sister and off limits. Now a college sophomore and licking her wounds from a bad breakup, she sets her sights on making Rhys see her as someone he could date…maybe even love. Her opportunity comes when Rhys visits his parents in Savannah where she is attending college. But the night she’s dreamed of turns to heart-break, and she realizes she’ll never be the one for Rhys. 

For Rhys McGowan, his nightmare began when he woke up, naked and hung-over, next to his best friend's little sister. Unable to remember a thing from the previous night, he only makes matters worse by lying to Allison about not being interested in her. The truth is he’s spent the last year trying to ignore his body’s reaction whenever Allison is around. His resolve is tested when Allison comes on tour with Runaway Train, as both Jake and Abby’s nanny and to fulfill her fashion design internship. The more time he spends with her in the close quarters of the bus, the harder it is for him to resist. 

Will Rhys realize that having a relationship with Allison is worth fighting for even if it means that he has to fight his best friend for a chance?
Katie Ashley is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her two very spoiled dogs. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Harry Potter, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo.
With a BA in English, a BS in Secondary English Education, and a Masters in Adolescent English Education, she has spent the last eleven years teaching both middle and high school English. As of January 2013, she is a full-time writer.
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