An Emotional Whirlwind: Play On by Samantha Young

An Emotional Whirlwind: Play On by Samantha YoungPlay On (Play On, #1)
by Samantha Young
Release Date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: eARC
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four-stars
Source: ARC received for review purposes

Nora O’Brien chased a dream from Indiana to Scotland, so sure it was the right thing to do. Three years later she was left in her adopted country with nothing to her name but guilt and regret.

Until Aidan Lennox entered her life.

Older, worldlier, a music producer and composer, the sexy Scot should never have made sense for Nora. But somehow, in each other, they found the light they were looking for, the laughter and the passion—the strength to play on despite their past losses.

But when life dealt Aidan another unlucky hand, instead of reaching for her he disappeared. The agonizing loss of him inspired something within Nora. It fired her spirit— the anger and hurt pushing her forward to take control and reach for her dreams.

Finally pursuing a career on stage while she put herself through college, everything is how Nora wants it. She’s avoiding heartbreak and concentrating on her goals.

Sounds easy but it’s not. Because Aidan is back. And for some reason he hates Nora.

He’s determined to be at war with her. And she has absolutely no idea why.

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Anytime Samantha Young announces a new book, I’m ready to pounce on it. With Play On the author takes readers back to Scotland with another intense and passionate romance that sizzles the pages, but it’s also a story that’s got a lot more depth than that.

First things first, I really think that the blurb for Play On gives too much away. I know it’s a romance novel, so the endings tend to be predictable, but the events described in the summary do not take place for a while, so I’d recommend not focusing too much on it. Play On is really more than a romance. It’s the tale of the strength and resilience of a young woman who is on a journey to find herself. The book begins with Nora O’Brien, right out of high school, working minimum wage, and taking care of her disabled father along with her mother. Nora dreams of something bigger, but her circumstances force her to remain in Indiana. That is, until Jim. Sweet, Scottish Jim who quickly becomes infatuated with Nora and whisks her off to Scotland to get married. Fast forward one year, and Nora’s life is still stagnant, only this time she’s stuck with Jim in an unrequited love story. What follows is the story of Nora meeting Aiden and being swept away in a high-intensity and deep romance. Reading Play On was a whirlwind with all the years that we follow Nora over. To be honest, I wasn’t quite expecting that, and initially I was wary, but Samantha Young weaves together the timelines deftly, and she easily sucked me into the story.

Of course her gorgeous writing, and the rich Scotland setting were high on the list as to why I found Play On to be addicting, but it was Nora’s character that made the book special. Now, this is a woman who is brave beyond words. Her admirable strength, her never-ending hope and her ability to bounce back from every obstacle that life throws at her make her a character who you not only love, but also look up to. Through it all, Nora’s heightened emotions are at the center of Play On, and Samantha Young makes you feel every one of those emotions right in your heart. You can’t help but desperately want happiness for Nora and though Samantha Young does not make it easy on us readers, that journey to Nora finding herself, and understanding her self-importance is worth the wait. I was happy when she found someone who helped her see the greatness in her in Aiden. He’s older, a little gruff, but also a sweetheart who is taking care of his orphaned niece, who quickly grows a bond with Nora. Their relationship and chemistry is sizzling, and while it’s not without angst, it’s the kind of angst that makes sense for this book. I liked everything about the dynamic between Nora and Aiden, and I wanted more.

There’s more I want to say about Play On, but I fear I’ll give away too much about the book. Samantha Young is an incredible romance author, and with Play On she shows just what a brilliant storyteller she is.

Excerpt

From the angle I was sitting, I could only see Aidan’s profile. A rush of feeling flooded
over me as I studied his familiar face. Memories flooded me. Smiles. Laughter. Kisses. Soft
touches. Tears. Him falling to his knees. Not meeting my eyes and telling me to leave and get
rest. The last thing he ever said to me.
I’d never felt such a confusing mix of fury and longing in my entire life. I at once wanted
to go to him, make him look at me, hold me, and I also wanted to march up to him, grab his
sweater in my fist, and shake him, even though he’d barely budge under my assault.
I remember you, Pixie.
I closed my eyes, in pain at the memory. If he called me by his nickname for me again, I
didn’t know whether I’d burst into tears or smack him across the face.
Probably both.
“Viola!” Quentin spun on his heel to look at me. “On stage.”
Nerves hit me in a massive wave and I took a moment to exhale slowly before I stood and
walked toward the stage. I hoped I appeared calm and ready to do this because inside, I was
under attack.
I joined Eddie up on stage; he gave me a bolstering smile.
In my entrance on performance nights, I would be accompanied by Eddie as Captain and
we’d have extras with us as our sailors. “‘What country, friends, is this?’” I said in a faux
upper-crust English accent, slowly walking across the stage, looking awed.
“‘This is Illyria, lady,’” Eddie said, following me.
I swiftly turned to look at him. “‘And what should I do in Illyria? My brother he is in
Elysium …’”
We fell into the scene and I was feeling pretty good about it when it came to an end, until
I looked over at Quentin and Aidan. Finally, I had Aidan’s attention. But I’d take him
ignoring me over the scowl he wore.

As my director opened his mouth to speak, Aidan called up to me, “You need to work on
that accent.”
I flushed, turning expectantly to Quentin. He looked a little taken aback by Aidan’s input
but he nodded at me. “If one person thinks it’s not great, others might. Practice it. It’s not a
huge concern yet.”
“The way she’s wandering around the stage like a bewildered child is,” Aidan said, like
he hadn’t insulted the hell out of me. “Viola is bold enough to dress as a man in order to find
her brother. She wouldn’t be wild-eyed and frightened.”
Wild-eyed and frightened?
I hadn’t been acting wild-eyed and frightened!
Quentin quirked an brow at his friend and then smirked up at me. “Play it a little less
vulnerable in your next scene.”
Seething, I could only nod. Completely unable to look at Aidan, I turned to Eddie. He
gave me a sympathetic smile and we left the stage together. The actors playing Maria, Sir
Toby, and Sir Andrew took the stage.
Ignoring Aidan, I strode farther down the aisle to get away from him, and Amanda gave
me a smug smile from her seat next to Hamish. “You’ll get better with practice,” she said.
I returned her smile with a tight one of my own and flopped down on a seat near the back.
It wasn’t long later, however, that Quentin was calling me up to stage again with Will and
Jack. After Aidan’s criticism—something he did not dole out to anyone else—I was on edge
but fighting the feeling because I didn’t want it to affect my performance.
We were halfway through the scene when Quentin called up for us to stop. Dread filled
me as we looked down at him.
But it was Aidan who spoke. “You’re doing it again. All doe-eyed while he’s talking.” He
gestured to Jack.

Anger flared out of me. “I’m supposed to be in love with him,” I argued.
“And you’re masquerading as a man. You’re good at deception,” he bit out, and I
couldn’t miss the hiss of anger in his words. Were we still talking about the play? “At this
point in the play, you can control your feelings for this man.”
Reeling from his words, I couldn’t argue this time. In fact, the whole atmosphere in the
theater had changed, as if everyone else had heard the underlying fury in his words and were
confused by them.
As confused as I was.
Why the hell was Aidan mad at me?

 Have you read this author before? What are some romance novels that surprised you with their depths?
Let me know in the comments below!

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Nick
  • Lovely review Nick. I agree about this authors story telling ability. I fall in love with her books every time. I can’t wait to read this one.

    • Right? She writes in a magical way!

  • I adore this author Nick and have neglected her. Your review reminds me of all the things I enjoy about her stories. Gotta go grab it.

    • I hope you love it, Kim!

  • Gosh. I haven’t read anything by Samantha in a long time and I don’t know why. She always writes good books with great characters. I will have to try and get to this one. I am hopelessly behind right now.

    • She does! Her books always make me happy.

  • Oh I hate when blurbs give away too much!! Such a pet peeve. I still haven’t read a book by Samantha Young yet but I know that needs to change. Great review!

    • You should! You’d love her!

  • I know I know, I have not read anything by her!

  • I have only read Young’s Into the Deep books, but I loved them and want to read more. This sounds really good. I love when the author is able to take me on a tour of the book’s location. Great review!

    • Ooh those are my least favorite books from her!! You should check out her On Dublin Street and On Hart’s Boardwalk series!

  • Great review!!! I’m a fan of Samantha Young’s and have been looking forward to “Play On” – this is the first review I’ve seen and it’s just made me more excited. 🙂

    • I hope you love it, Mallory!

  • Jasprit

    I’ve listened to audiobooks by Young before and I think I was the black sheep, because I really wasn’t a fan, which is a shame, as I’ve heard great things about Young’s books in the past, maybe I just need to switch it up from an audio to a physical book and hopefully it’ll work out for me a lot better! However despite my not so great experience with Young’s books, you have me curious about this one, I have to admit the summary completely reeled me in, and of course I need to know what happens between Aidan and Nora! Thank you for putting this book on my radar Nick!

    • Which books have you read from her? I hope you have better lucky by switching to non-audiobook versions of her books!

  • sarabara081 @ Forever 17 Books

    I don’t believe I’ve read anything by this author before. I’m really glad I went right to your review and skipped over the blurb. It’s so strange when books give too much away like that. I’m really excited about the Scotland setting! Definitely something to add to my tbr. 🙂

    • Ooh she’s such a good contemporary romance author, so you should give her books a try for sure! I know! I thought it was so weird because a huge chunk of what’s talked about in the blurb is the twist that happens at the end!

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed this. I read a book by Young a year or two ago and really didn’t care for it. Maybe she’s just not an author for me.

    • Which one did you read by her? Because her writing tend to varies depending on the genre/book.

  • Ooh, I’m glad to see that you enjoyed this one as I’m hoping to read it as soon as it comes out. I was a little scared to read it because Samantha Young books are either hit or miss with me but I have a feeling that I might enjoy this one so thanks for the review. I need to meet Nora and Aidan. 🙂

    • I hope this one is a hit for you!

  • A Novel Glimpse

    Adding this one to the my list! You keep reviewing books and I keep adding them. You’re killing my TBR, but I appreciate it! 😉 Great review!!!

    • LOL!! I’m not sorry? 😉

  • Ooh. I’ve read On Dublin Street and quite enjoyed it despite it being predictable. Her writing is really engaging though which is what kept me reading. I love music within books and especially books set outside of the US. That cover is absolutely gorgeous too. I’ll be nabbing a copy when it comes out, thanks for the recommendation and wonderful review Nick <3 <3

    • Yeah she’s got a great writing style. Thanks, Kelly!

  • Samantha Young! It’s been ages since I’ve read one of her books, which is strange because I quite liked what I read of her On Dublin Street series. I’m especially pleased to hear that this one’s set in Scotland…there’s just something so magical about the way Young writes about it. Based on what you’ve said, Nora and Aiden are exactly my kind of romance pairing!

    • You should check out her Hart’s Boardwalk series too, Danya. It’s such a great series. And yes! She totally knows how to write Scotland in an alluring way. 🙂

  • I didn’t know Samantha Young had another book! I will totally read this. I’ve liked the couple of books I’ve read from her and I’m going to read more of her books because they are good! I do love this one is set in Scotland, maybe it’ll help motivate me to go there one day. You make this sound so good and I totally need to read this.