Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Storytime. I teach college writing. I’ve taught college writing for seventeen years. Twice a year, for sixteen weeks, I sit with student writing, pouring out feedback and inspiration to jettison students into better forms of their writing. The focus of my instruction is getting students to work a process because we know that process breeds better writing. One aspect of the writing process that is the hardest to teach and facilitate is revision. It requires writers to completely deconstruct hard-fought ideas and words. No one wants to walk away from the words they’ve produced. Those words and ideas feel like our children. And I struggle to help students let go of something they don’t want to let go of.
I’ve been reading Dylan Allen for some time. I listened to the first story that inspired her most recent release, The Sound of Temptation, via Read Me Romance, and I was slain by the pain of that short story. When she decided to expand it into her Forever Trilogy (Between Now and Forever, Between Now and Heartbreak, and Between Now and Always), I was so excited because that Read Me Romance story wasn’t enough. I wanted more.
With the Forever Trilogy, she absolutely gave us more. I think sometimes too much. However, by Between Now and Always, the story had hit its groove, and she ended that trilogy beautifully. But I think she felt a calling back to those stories, a want to revise them. So…she did, and she gave us The Sound of Temptation. Now, I want to give you the negative of this story and end with the positives of it. There is an issue with the exposition of The Sound of Temptation. She has issues with continuity and transitions because this brave author took three very heady stories and compiled them into one. This is so difficult. In those original books, there were incredible moments of pain and growth and the beauty of romance. To take all of those moments and place them into this newest book, is overwhelming. And I think (I could be wrong) her beta-readers were too close to these stories, and they didn’t give her the feedback she needed to tighten the details of the exposition.
Now, the beauty of The Sound of Temptation is its revision of chronology (the timeline of the story), its dialogue, and the inclusion of the original stories’ best moments. The chronology of this revision is better, in my opinion. Yes, the transitions are rough, but this chronology makes more sense in the scope of a single book. Even more, Dylan Allen’s prose, the moments of conversation in this book, are GORGEOUS with a capital G. There are pieces of this book that are spell-binding and exquisite. Beth is still a better character than Carter, but by the story’s end, they are equal in their likability. Lastly, Dylan chose the best parts of her original stories. She cut the chaff of the original books, proffering up the best moments of Carter and Beth’s story.
I think it’s brave for an author to take published stories, ones that they had completed, and revise them into something better. That, however, takes a strength that many don’t have because it’s hard to let go of words and ideas that we hold dear. Additionally, it can be difficult to see the forest through the trees when we’ve spent so much time with two beloved characters and their stories. I salute Dylan for her bravery. I think The Sound of Temptation is a special story, replete with characters who will steal your heart if you allow them that space. Above anything else, this book is all emotion reminding us that beauty comes from within.
In love and romance,