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Blog Tour and Review: Leaving Amarillo by Caisey Quinn

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Nashville meets New Adult in Neon Dreams, a dramatic, sexy series from bestselling author Caisey Quinn, about a country band’s rocky road to fame—and the ambition, dreams, and love of the people who make the music.

Dixie Lark hasn’t had it easy. She lost her parents in an accident when she was young and grew up in a ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo with her ailing grandparents and overprotective older brother. Thanks to her grandfather, Dixie learned to play a mean fiddle, inspired by the sounds of the greats—Johnny and June, Waylon, and Hank. Her grandfather’s fiddle changed Dixie’s life forever, giving her an outlet for the turmoil of her broken heart and inspiring a daring dream.

Ten years later, Dixie and her brother, Dallas, are creating the music they love and chasing fame with their hot band, Leaving Amarillo. But Dixie isn’t enjoying the ride. All she can think about is Gavin, the band’s tattooed, tortured drummer who she’s loved since they were kids. She knows he feels the connection between them, but he refuses see her as more than his best friend’s little sister.

Convinced that one night with Gavin will get him out of her system, Dixie devises a plan. She doesn’t know that her brother has forbidden Gavin from making a move on her-a promise he swore he’d always keep . . . a promise that once broken will unexpectedly change the future for Dixie, Gavin and the band.

My Review

“It’s dangerous to love, to allow yourself to be loved. But I dared to fly too close to the flames and I’ve decided it’s better to burn–to have that all-consuming powerful kind of love that scars you for life even if it only lasts a little while, than to play safe forever”

It’s books like this that remind me of why I love to read. This is not just a book. This is an experience. This book is not just about romance and love and friendship. It’s also about the music…

“It’s times like this, times when I’m on, giving it my all as the bow dances across the strings like it has a mind of its own, that I feel like I can fly.”

Leaving Amarillo follows the story of Dixie, Gavin and Dallas. Dixie has been broken ever since her parents passed away. Thanks to her grandfather, she learned to find a way to express her broken heart-playing the fiddle…10 years later, Dixie and her older brother Dallas are following their dreams of playing music. But this journey isn’t exactly easy for Dixie. Dixie is harboring some non-friendly feelings toward their drummer Gavin. She’s been in love with him since they were kids. The only thing that stands in their way, is a promise that Gavin made to Dallas as a young kid. Somehow, Dixie is able to get Gavin to agree to spend one night with her. One night to get each other out of their systems. Lines will be crossed and promises will be broken….Will Dixie’s heart still be in tact when this is all over??

Wow! Just wow! I was hooked on Leaving Amarillo from the very first page. I seriously devoured this book in half a day. It was that good. This is one book that I did not want to put down. I loved the idea behind the story and I love, love when an author includes music in their stories. The music is not just music. It becomes it’s own character.

“Music is an experience. It’s alive. untamable. You can try to plan it out, pin it down and bend it to your will, but it can’t really be done.”

Speaking of characters…I was hooked on them from the very first page. Dallas and Dixie suffered loss at a very young age and all they had was each other. I loved how protective Dallas was over Dixie and how he was always looking out for her and taking care of her. When they met Gavin, they sort of just took him in and made him part of their family. The three of them have their own baggage, but share one amazing bond.

One of the things I love most about Caisey Quinn books is that she puts her heart and soul into her books. You feel the characters emotions so strongly, it’s as if you are living this story with them.

Gavin and Dixie…What can I say? Their chemistry was scorching, off the charts and certainly undeniable. Poor Gavin tried desperately to be the good guy and keep a promise that he made to Dallas. But, some promises were meant to be broken. I loved the push and pull of their relationship. I understood their struggles and was rooting for them every step of the way.

“For one night, I held fire. And then a few nights ago, fire held me, too. I thought it would destroy me, being that close to him. In some ways it did. But as I take a long, lonely walk down memory lane, I realize the fire Gavin and I created has fueled me as well. I will wait for him. Feels like I’ve been waiting on him most of my life. But I will not put off living for another second.”

Leaving Amarillo was a fantastic ride. It will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love. I love, loved the angst of this story. It was so palpable, I felt like I could reach out and touch it.  And the ending……Not really a cliffhanger per say, but it definitely has you asking questions and wondering what’s next for our beloved characters. There is so much that is unresolved and  I can’t wait to get those answers.

* I was provided an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

*Quotes taken from ARC and may slightly differ from completed copy*

*Teaser Credit: Via Author’s FB page*

Excerpt Teaser

“He’s not watching you like he’s worried you’ll screw up. He’s watching you like he’s worried you’ll disappear and take his heart with you.”

The Evolution of Dixie and Dallas Lark

Dixie and Dallas Lark are the brother and sister duo who make up the band Leaving Amarillo along with their mutual best friend, Gavin Garrison. These characters have been some of the most interesting and three-dimensional that I’ve written in my career and I found it particularly interesting that they didn’t end up how I originally pictured them. Sneaky characters went and evolved a bit on me!

My first Dixie and Dallas were quite tame and actually kind of blurry in my mind. He was a sexy, rugged guitar playing, protective big brother and she was a fiddle player caught between life in the orchestra pit and freedom on the open road. As their story progressed, though, I began to see them more clearly. They were that band you get lucky enough to catch playing a late night gig at The Stage or Crossroads in Nashville. That one that you decide to stay and have one more drink just so you can listen to them a little longer—the one you know you will see hitting it big in the very near future because you can’t bring yourself to leave until they finish their set!

I initially pictured Dallas as a slightly more muscular Jensen Ackles type but that evolved a bit due to the ways in which Dixie evolved. She became edgier and grittier than I originally imagined due to her backstory and so Dallas had to toughen up a bit, too. This happens sometimes—I picture a character or story one way before writing and then that changes as I get deeper into it. It’s such an amazing experience—that moment when my characters become “real” and show me who they are versus who I’d originally imagined or expected.

Caisey Quinn’s Inspiration for the Neon Dreams series  

Not too long ago (barely over a year), I took a trip to Nashville with some friends. It was one of those last minute “oh my gosh, we have to see this super big artist doing a concert in a tiny venue because they just Tweeted that they’ll be there” type road trips. Unplanned, beef jerky, big gulps, and random road mix cd style adventure. My favorite kind.

However, by the time we arrived at the venue it was packed. Literally. Wall to wall crammed, people spilling out onto the sidewalk, full to maximum capacity packed. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who caught word that a big name artist was going to be there.


We decided to just check out a few local spots instead. In a bar called Crossroads we got comfy, ordered drinks, and started chatting about how bummed we were that we didn’t get to see the original artist we intended to. I can’t even remember now who it was. Here’s why.

As we’re ordering a second—okay, maybe a third—round and deciding if we’re going to just call it a night and get a hotel room or head home (Birmingham is only about three hours away), this glorious sound fills the air. No, it pierces the air, rips through it and grabs everyone in hearing range by the eardrums.

Our conversation—along with many others—ceased instantly. Chill bumps ran up my arms even though it was quite warm and I was wearing a jacket.

Most of the patrons gaped in awe as this young woman played the fiddle as if she’d been born to do that and only that. It was the solo from “Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels band and she was rocking it beyond comprehension. Pretty sure even the bartenders stopped what they were doing. The rest of the night was a little blurry, but I know we didn’t leave until that band had played their entire set.

We ended up getting a hotel room but none of us slept. All we could talk about was that band and how amazing they were and how we were kicking ourselves that we didn’t get their name so we could check them out online and hear more. I still look for them when I’m in Nashville and one day I fully expect to hear them on the radio. Whoever they are, they will forever be the band that inspired the Neon Dreams series.

This isn’t the exact band but they’re pretty close! The search continues!


Top 5 Most Played Songs on Dixie Lark’s Playlist

1.      I Want You to Want Me – Cheap Trick

2.      One Night – Christina Perri

3.      Dream – Priscilla Ahn

4.      Love Runs Out – One Republic

5.      Bluebird – Christina Perri 

About The Author: 

Caisey Quinn lives in a suburb outside of Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, daughter, and other assorted animals. She wears cowgirl boots most of the time, even to church. She is the bestselling author of the Kylie Ryans series and writes New and Young Adult books about country girls finding love in unexpected places. 


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