ARC Review: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....

VIRTUOSITY will be released October 18th by Simon Pulse. I read this book through Galley Grab.

Let me just say that this book was a pleasant surprise. A book such as this, with the story revolving around a musical prodigy, can go either way, in my opinion. I've read amazing ones, such as IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT, but I've also read not-so-great ones too. I wasn't sure where VIRTUOSITY would fall--but it ended up being a solid read that I thoroughly enjoyed--and possibly even loved.

Martinez's writing style was beautiful. She was wonderful at describing everything and making me feel. I know little about classical music, and while the main character Carmen is a classical violinist, it didn't matter how little my knowledge was. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew more about the world of classical music. The path Martinez takes you through this story is effortless and wonderful. I was really impressed, as this is a debut.

The characters were all fleshed out and real. I really connected with Carmen and felt her emotional struggle, and how the competition and the violin were beginning to get to her. How despite her liking Jeremy--she could never fully trust him, as he was the competition. And I loved Jeremy! First off, he's British. Bonus points right there. But really, it was just his personality. How he felt like he had to be cocky at first, but really he could be so sincere. How he was so determined to win the Guarneri for his brother--who has muscular dystrophy. I loved the connection I felt to these characters--and how I was rooting for them all the way! I loved their scenes together--from when he takes her to a Jazz club to when she takes him to a White Sox game. So cute.

Now as for Carmen's mother, she was the perfect antagonist. And I would say that she was unrealistic, but the is, she wasn't unrealistic at all. She was an opera singer who lost her voice--and her career. So as a result, she's living vicariously through her daughters violin career. She'll do anything to make sure her daughter wins--she even makes Carmen take Inderal, a calming drug so that she doesn't get nervous during performances. While she could be a little extreme, she had motives, and she did feel remorse when things got taken too far.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with VIRTUOSITY. I didn't realize just how much I liked it until I started writing this review and realized that I didn't have a bad thing to say about it. I loved how romance wasn't the main plot--but instead just part of Carmen's journey of finding herself and figuring out what she really wants. Fantastic debut, I definitely recommend reading it! I'm keeping Jessica Martinez on my radar.