Run Rose Run is a great entertaining story of a young, promising, talented singer-songwriter trying to escape an abusive past and make it in Nashville. This is a perfect read for lovers of the Nashville TV drama series, with a beautiful diminutive singer catching a break when the retired ‘Queen of Country’ takes her under her wing. The ladder to success in the music industry has many difficult rungs to negotiate with setbacks, rejections, predators, greedy and manipulative agents and record labels, and over-whelming competition, never mind the threat of someone wanting you dead.
Each author’s influence is evident, with the rags to riches story of a country singer tied to a deadly past that threatened her life. Suppose James Patterson created the sections on the rise of a female country singer in Nashville and Dolly Parton provided the imminent danger from a would-be killer. In that case, my name’s Twinkle Dust and I grocery shop in a tutu and tiara.
AnnieLee Keyes arrives in Nashville, penniless, friendless, and sleeping rough in a local park. Driven and sassy, she enters the Cat’s Paw bar and pushes for a chance to perform on-stage. Winning over the barman, AnnieLee borrows a guitar and sings her own songs. Before she knows it, the crowd are cheering and enjoying her set. When she announces that she has sang all her songs and can now sing covers of what they would like to hear, the crowd shout for her to sing her songs again. Hearing her sing that night is Ethan Blake, a musician who is a friend of Ruthanna Ryder, the retired Queen of Country and owner of the Cat’s Paw. These three characters each have secrets and hurt in their lives, and as the story progresses, we start to uncover the truths. There is a nearly nearly love relationship between AnnieLee and Ethan, each harbouring feelings for the other but reluctant to take that first step. I felt this part was managed well, even though it is so cliché.
I enjoyed the story as I love the underdog battling through hardships to achieve a dream. However, there is a significant issue as it’s a story that’s been told so many times before and a road well-trodden. The convenience of meeting two people of crucial importance in a world of dog-eat-dog felt unrealistic, especially as Ruthanna and Ethan went to incredible lengths to help AnnieLee, including putting their own lives in danger.
AnnieLee lives for her music and song verses in her head trip onto the page at every opportunity, which I tended to ignore. I enjoyed reading the book and the momentum of the story was very well balanced. Fans of Nashville, country music and Dolly Parton will enjoy this book, and I would recommend it with the cautions above. I want to thank Random House UK, Cornerstone and NetGalley for providing a free ARC in return for an honest review.