Review: Lies & Lullabies by Sarina Bowen (2020)

Hush Note, Book #1

Heat Factor: They have very gentle loving sex because of Kira’s past

Character Chemistry: I got sucked in by all their drama, so I guess it worked

Plot: “OMG I am SO happy to see you again!” → “WTF I have a CHILD?!” → “Let’s be together forever, I promise that me being a rock star who tours for months every year will not be a problem.”

Overall: I was expecting to get bent out of shape about the secret baby drama, but I got some bonus annoyance as well.

I hadn’t read any Sarina Bowen books before this year, but now I’ve read a few, and she trends kind of angsty, which is … challenging for me. I have been a cozy soft romance type reader for the past year, and too much angst stresses me out. You should know this before going in. Also, this not-quite-4yo behaves like a 5–6yo, which might not seem like a big difference, but it really is. 

The premise is: Kira met Jonas when he was hiding out in her small town in Maine, trying to write a new album so his band wasn’t a one-hit wonder. He’d made a vow of celibacy for the summer, so they became practically inseparable best friends, no shenanigans. The night before he leaves, Kira, who had been raped the year before, asks him to have sex with her because she feels safe with him (because he made no move to pursue her all summer), so they have sex, her birth control fails, and she winds up pregnant. Things get complicated because they should be able to talk to each other, but they’re both early twenties emotional messes so they don’t, and five years later…

Okay, so I think I’m supposed to sympathize with how out of control Kira must be feeling when Jonas twirls into her life and upends her perfectly fine, stable, reasonably happy existence. I have to force myself into a headspace where I’m thinking about what it might feel like to suddenly feel out of control, with no idea what will happen next because suddenly this person with a lot of power and money might make demands that I don’t like or feel comfortable with. 

And while I did think that there were a number of ways that Jonas tread like an elephant into the situation without thinking about how he was invading a lot of Kira’s boundaries (like, hello, I get that you want to spend time with your kid, but there are legit some conversations that need to happen first)…  

On the other hand, Jonas has just

  • Learned he has an almost 4yo daughter and that his daughter’s mother knew who he was but never tried to contact him, and they had a really good relationship when they were friends
  • Learned that his daughter’s mother TOLD THEIR DAUGHTER that her father was TOO BUSY MAKING MUSIC TO BE A DADDY (WOW. Holy shit.)
  • Learned that his daughter’s mother described their night together as a one-night stand to her brother, when they’d spent the whole summer together being best friends (Jonas has some personal baggage re: (not) being a person that other people choose and care about)
  • Asked to keep in touch so that he can see and get to know his daughter, only to have Kira avoid his calls and texts
  • Is presumed to be trying to take things away from Kira or make unreasonable requests when, of the two of them, Kira is the one who is refusing to communicate

Jonas must be a better person than me, because if I were a millionaire who said I wanted to be present for my child and be supportive of her family, and then the child’s other parent stonewalled me, I’d almost certainly be inclined to take aggressive legal action to protect my own parental rights. Jeez. Would it get ugly? Probably. Mediation would be much better. But people have to, you know, talk for mediation. 

Okay, so here’s Jonas, flipped out that he has a daughter he didn’t know about, determined to be a present dad, even with his rock and roll concert tour in full swing, trying to work things out with his friend (who might at this point be his former friend) and mother of his child, and the situation is clearly extremely stressful. Instead of the nuclear legal option, he gets a new lawyer and requests the paperwork that makes Kira breathe easier, and she agrees to go to his concert. TL;DR: they do a complete 180. 

It goes like this: 

Jonas: I love you, I’ve always loved you, I will always love you, and I want us to really be together.

Kira: Let’s have sex so I don’t have to think about what you’re saying or what I actually want or need.

So, I guess, bye bye tension from the first half of the book? Let’s make some new tension? 

The new tension is Kira, who still is not entirely committed to the relationship, and Jonas, who is fully committed to the relationship, trying to have a long distance relationship and planning visits while Jonas is still on tour. So naturally a bunch of BS goes down and Kira is obviously feeding the “Never Gonna Work” monster since she’s already not committed while Jonas is trying, bless his optimistic little heart. 

I don’t want to get too much down this rabbit hole or too spoilery, but 1) bad stuff happens to people all the time that makes them have to cancel plans unexpectedly, it’s not just a rock star problem, so don’t act like it is and 2) if women assuming the worst about their men when another woman makes an appearance is not your jam, tread cautiously when selecting this book. 

As a secret baby book, the story started off really strong. But there were a lot of points of conflict that could have existed surrounding that narrative that were just magically resolved when Jonas (magically) got over how wronged he felt and decided that he wanted to be with Kira forever. I didn’t care for the 180 mood switch and the narrative shift from a secret baby conflict to a long distance relationship conflict. Was I entertained? Yes. Was I happy about it? Well… 

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

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