Published by Howard Books on June 4, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Romance
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A novel about the long, winding journey to love for a pair of struggling songwriters, based on the hit song “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?”, from platinum-selling country music duo Thompson Square.
Daniel and Casey were an unlikely couple back in high school when they came together to write music for a school event. Struggling against their differences, they dated during college, but their relationship never seemed quite right. Yet despite their personal conflict, as songwriters they had undeniable chemistry—and several hit songs. Eventually they went their own ways, both trying to make it in the music world and find true love.
Years later, both Daniel and Casey are at rock bottom, still trying to find success. But when they connect again as old friends, they realize that what they needed was right in front of them all along: each other.
From Thompson Square, a married twosome who knows a little something about what it’s like to overcome years of struggle in the music business and find love, Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not? is a charming and humorous love story about coming of age, knowing where you belong, and finding the perfect person to share life with.
Nobody ever thought Daniel Winter and Casey Sparkland would be a couple. For starters, they hated one another. Or, rather, Casey thought Daniel was a jerk, and her attitude often caused Daniel to confirm her suspicions. But neither could anyone deny there was a certain chemistry between them. They morphed into an on again, off again couple that seemed to always butt heads and struggle with their differences. One thing they could certainly do was write music together.
Keifer and Shawna Thompson (better known as the country duo Thompson Square) join with Travis Thrasher (better known as That Guy Who Writes Novels with Country Musicians), to write a sweet little love story about two struggling souls who finally find themselves (and each other) over the course of a number of years. The story begins in the present day then flashes back to their respective histories, beginning with their high school years.
In the present, Casey is reeling from the recent reconnection with her ex-husband, who claims he’s changed and wants to get back together. Daniel has just been laid off from a job he hated and his manager won’t give him the time of day. Both are in their mid-thirties and it seems like life has just passed them by. The flashbacks provide depth to their stories, helping the reader understand how they got where they are, while the story in the present focuses on their eventual reunion.
It’s a beautifully told story that brings out the romantic in me, and the plotline works well with the song it’s based upon. I’m really curious who wrote the Sparkland and Winter song snippets that are interspersed throughout the book. It brings a lot of authenticity to the novel (and yes, I did actually have to check to see if this was based on a true story). The characters are engaging and multi-faceted. Their back stories play wonderfully with the main storyline, tying everything together into a cohesive whole.
Life is Story, and this is the kind of novel that understands that. Travis Thrasher again proves that he is excellent at getting into his character’s heads and writing their story as if it’s their diary. The changes in tense also provide a refreshing change in the storyline. The present day storyline is told in first person, in either Casey or Daniel’s perspective, depending on whose story is being told. The storylines from the past are told in third-person, but again vary from either Casey or Daniel’s perspective. This helps guide the story, making it very character-centered, which provides the intimacy needed for such a story.
Overall, it’s an amazing book—great for fans of country music, Thompson Square, or just a little bit of romance. Thrasher seems to have found an interesting niche writing novels with musicians (Paper Angels with Jimmy Wayne, Letters from War with Mark Schultz, and the forthcoming Time for Me to Come Home with Dorothy Shackleford, mother of Blake Shelton). It’s a genre he’s run with, consistently turning songs into wonderful full-fledged novels. The whole idea is a great example of a number of different storytelling methods coalescing to tell a beautiful story. It’s a wonderful story of love. That alone is a reason to read it.