Key Change, the third book in the Common Threads series set in Chicago, is one of my new favorite Smartypants Romance books. It can be read as a standalone, but readers who have already enjoyed the first two books in the series will be delighted when the main character goes to the yarn shop, Mad About Ewe, featured in the previous book, and titled the same. There are also cameos from Alex and Quinn, beloved characters from Smartypants Romance creator, Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series.
Hannah Lee James, also the huge music star Ashton James, moves to Chicago to continue in a long recovery from a life of bad decisions fueled by addiction, while also taking care of her teenage half-sister, Piper, who is 12. Hannah was on top of the world, until one day she hit rock bottom. Hannah has no intention of ever going back to the famous life she lived as Ashton, and her goal is to live under the radar and out of the public eye, with the help of her landlord and security guru Quinn. Hannah sees a therapist and a sponsor for her alcohol addiction, and is so far sober and making it one day at a time, with some anxiety and anger issues cropping up along the way, of course.
One day she hears a young kid busking, singing one of her songs, and she can’t help but get a little closer and marvel at his talent. Little does she realize, but Shawn, the teenager recognizes her, causing him to tell his older brother, 36 year old music producer Johnny Torres. Johnny knows her all too well, but the woman he knows is Ashton James, and Hannah Lee, who shows up on his doorstep with a bribe to keep quiet about her whereabouts, throws him into a tailspin. He can still remember the night spent with Ashton, as well as the moment when she got him fired from the tour after promising him so much. Hannah has no recollection of Johnny, which causes him even more pain. Johnny is no stranger to pain, however. His own mother left 15 years ago, leaving Johnny fully responsible for caring for his younger brother Shawn. Now Shawn is a high school senior and a very talented musician. He is obsessed with Ashton James, and he makes it his mission to use her connections to help him make it in the music industry, against his older brother’s wishes. When Hannah shows up in Johnny’s studio while he’s recording a record for a top selling rapper named Sunshine, Hannah becomes a key player in the project. Hannah finds Johnny’s grumpy on-the-outside demeanor hilarious, and she doesn’t mind being around his gorgeous looks, either.
If you like enemies to lovers and second chance romance, this is the book for you! Johnny and Hannah has so many similarities that really allow them to connect on a deep level: the lack of a mother in their life, raising a younger sibling as their own, and their insatiable love for music. I also love that Hannah is an awesome take-no-crap-from-anyone kind of gal and she is fiercely protective of others. The romance in this book is mostly closed door, which really works perfectly for this story because it has such a tender/fragile relationship developing between two very complex, broken characters, both dealing with loss, pain, and regret of the past. The angst between Johnny and Hannah is so well-written and gave me so many feelings. I also loved the hilarious banter between the characters, whether between sisters Hannah and Piper, between Johnny and his assistant Nikki, or Sunshine the rapper trying to hit on Hannah. I dearly loved this story, and I hope you do as well!
Thank you to Smartypants Romance for providing me with an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
About Heidi Hutchinson
Heidi Hutchinson creates funny, clever, slow burn romance for readers looking for a guaranteed happily ever after. She hopes the stories she writes inspire her readers to take their hearts on one more adventure. She lives in the Black Hills with her alarmingly handsome husband, their fearless child,and a rather large and spoiled dog. She is fueled by her unwavering and perfectly normal devotion to Dave Grohl and coffee. And a whole lotta love.
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