Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review | Where The Road Takes Me by Jay McLean - with Audiobook Notes

Where  The Road Takes Me by Jay McLean
Publish Date: February 10, 2015

Published by Skyscape
Source: Book - Borrowed, Audiobook - Borrowed 
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 

Chloe has one plan for the future, and one plan only: the road. She’s made a promise to herself: don’t let anyone in, and don’t let anyone love her. She’s learned the hard way what happens if she breaks her rules. So she’s focused on being invisible and waiting until she can set out on the road—her dream of freedom, at least for a little while.

Blake Hunter is a basketball star who has it all—everything about him looks perfect to those on the other side of his protective walls. He can’t let anyone see the shattered pieces behind the flawless facade or else all his hopes and dreams will disappear.

One dark night throws Chloe and Blake together, changing everything for Blake. For Chloe, nothing changes: she has the road, and she’s focused on it. But when the so-called perfect boy starts to notice the invisible girl, they discover that sometimes with love, no one knows where the road may lead.

Where The Road Takes Me by Jay McLean

My ThoughtsWhen you glance at the great cover and at the synopsis, Where The Road Takes Me by Jay McLean appears to be a road-trip book, yesssss. Impulsively, I grabbed the book and the audiobook to take a read + listen. Aside from the cover and road trip theme, I also was woo'd by the North Carolina setting and the prospect of one of my favorite audiobook narrators reading the book aloud to me. I felt optimistic, as I should. 

As I read + listened, I felt like this book was organically broken into two parts. There felt like an obvious "before the road trip" part and a "once the road trip started" part. 

Before the road trip

It felt like the build-up to the road trip was slow. In fact, it was a while before I remember mention of going on The Road. Chloe and Blake met under unusual circumstances, at an unusual time, and had an unusual beginning to their relationship. I think that they tried to begin as friends-first before their relationship progressed, I really do. This is important because Blake began the book with a girlfriend - and he kept that girlfriend for a while into the book. However, he did a poor job of being a boyfriend, and this is something that just kept popping up as noticeable to me as I was reading. Chloe also recognized it and mentioned it to him over and over...but I'm not sure that she respected that boundary between Blake and his girlfriend, to be honest. And I know that Blake didn't respect his girlfriend enough to either chill his friendship with Chloe - or - to break it off with girlfriend Hannah. This is love triangle territory and while I am not anti-triangle, I don't love them when I don't feel they are necessary - I didn't see the necessity here. So, Blake was kind of on my ick-list for a little while...and Chloe was too. (To be fair, girlfriend Hannah saw what was going on and was also free to dump Blake. But.)

Back to Chloe and Blake...I guess the heart wants what it wants? The two do end up pursuing each other over much of the beginning of the book. The "before the road trip" also consists of establishing that Chloe wants to leave immediately after graduation to go out on The Road - she tries not to get too close to anyone, holds people at arms length, she has her reasons. I certainly respect this about her, having felt this way before and leaving directly from my graduation to move to my new place that I already had set up in another town, away from my childhood home. At the same time, Blake is trying so hard to make his own plan for after graduation. He has a couple of big prospects for his future, but he can't figure out which path he wants to take. 

So here we have Chloe and Blake with two opposite ways of looking at how their post-graduation days are going to go. And whether or not I liked how it went down, I watched the two falling for one another and I love the way the book went from there. 

Once the road trip started

Here is where I really began to enjoy the story - after they were on the road for just a bit. I'm not sure if both Chloe and Blake needed to get away from their respective environments to really shine as individuals and as a couple, but they really began to. They were two people in love, going place to place, experiencing life and the freedom of the road - I loved it. Both were learning from one another. Both were taking risks. Both were being young people. It was great. Then a thing happened that I did predict early on in the book, and it turned the happy-and-free tone of the second part of the book into something different, more serious. And this final portion of the book is what I really loved, my favorite part of the whole story. This is where the two characters grew the most as people, individuals and as a couple, and they learned the most about life and making plans. 

The cast of characters outside of Chloe and Blake? LOVED THEM. The secondary cast is really outstanding. They're supportive and loving and they actually take up plenty of space in the story. I wouldn't mind knowing more about...all of them. Chloe comes from a loving foster family and has several precious younger siblings. Blake has a strict military father and a loving ex-alcoholic mother who is also an author - she is wonderful. Their friends: incredible and diverse with unique circumstances and tragedies and hardships of their own. (Would LOVE backstories for Clayton and Josh, Jay!)

Overall, I liked this story. The parts that appealed to me came through and this worked for one of those quick, fun romance reads that I love so much. I think that were I to wish for any differences, I would wish that the beginning portion of the book had a quicker transition into The Road portion, and that the love triangle-ish parts were less dramatic or maybe even not there. I'm not sure that I saw their significance and I'm certain that some anti-triangle readers would not pick this book when there is really a great story that takes place out on The Road. 

This is my first work by Jay McLean, but I have several more on my Kindle at the moment, I believe. Where The Road Takes Me is not a perfect read in terms of my own reading preferences (many tropes here but I didn't mind so much), but it is enjoyable and I did devour it in a short time. I loved that I chose a Kindle + audiobook read for this one because the audiobook was great. Alternating points-of-view for Chloe and Blake, being that they have two completely different sets of opinions and thought processes throughout the story - it just worked here. 

I recommend Where The Road Takes Me by Jay McLean for readers that enjoy road trip books and books that include romance with some issues. 

Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of Where The Road Takes Me by Jay McLean is published by Brilliance Audio and is 8 hours and 51 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Nick Podehl and Laura Hamilton who did a great job reading the alternating points-of-view of Blake and Chloe. Nick Podehl is one of my all-time favorites and was the draw for the audiobook format for me - I loved Laura Hamilton's work as well here. I would recommend this audiobook for a first read or rereads.


Where The Road Takes Me will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult/New Adult Romance with issues.
Romance: Love Triangle initially, then a romance once it is eliminated.
Great secondary cast
Alternating POV's
Great Setting: North Carolina 
Road Trips

Where The Road Takes Me by Jay McLean
is currently available for purchase.


This cover IS charming even though 
the book is FAR, FAR more than just a road trip. 

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