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By Lauren E. Rico
This book has so many things going for it: forbidden romance, enemies-to-lovers, emotions galore, superb writing. I am always drawn to a forbidden romance, but Solo was about more than just the taboo relationship between a professor and his student. I was quickly pulled into the lives of the characters and felt their emotions right alongside of them. Once again, Lauren E. Rico’s book is set in the world of classical music. Her musical knowledge abounds within the pages of this book, offering up a rich backdrop to an already captivating story.
To the outside world, many would assume that Katherine Brenner has lived a life of leisure, luxury, and privilege – and she has to some degree. As the daughter of a senator, her life has been in the spotlight and under scrutiny for years. While Katherine attempts to fly under the radar and live her own life beyond her father’s shadow, this proves to be an impossible feat. Katherine has lived through her share of disappointment and pain. Her relationship with her father is practically non-existent, she doesn’t have any friends, she is struggling financially, and to top it all off, her professor hates her.
What her peers and professors don’t realize is that Katherine is working two jobs, she is paying her own rent, she eats ramen noodles most days, survives on very little sleep, and she’s lonely. She is certainly not living the lifestyle that one would assume a senator’s daughter would be living. She is a hard-working young woman with goals and self-respect. I couldn’t have loved Katherine more!
Dr. Drew Markham is a tough professor. Most of his students try not to ruffle his feathers, but Katherine seems to rub Dr. Markham the wrong way. It wouldn’t matter if she was never tardy for his class, if she turned in every assignment early or on time, or if she was the most delightful student he had ever encountered, Dr. Markham would despise her simply because she existed – and he didn’t exactly hide his feelings for her.
Tsk…tsk…tsk, Dr. Markham. His behavior was unprofessional, biased, and downright cruel. I will admit that I spent quite a bit of time wanting to shake some sense into him, but as the story progressed, we got to discover a bit more about Dr. Markham and have a better understanding of him. Did it excuse his harsh behavior? Oh. Hell. No.
Let’s be honest, this animosity, sparring, and less than admirable behavior is what makes this trope work so well. I wanted to witness their interactions - good and bad. I wanted to see how their relationship would evolve from professor and student to more. What would spark or ignite such a change, and make them see each other differently?
Lauren E. Rico has written a novel that is brimming with passion, heart, and intriguing characters. Solo is told in alternating chapters from Katherine and Drew’s perspectives. It was so effortless to slip inside the characters’ minds and lose myself in their story. While the alternating chapters helped me to get a better understanding of the characters, it didn’t lessen the amount of times that I wanted to put Drew in a headlock. With that being said, I am also always appreciative of an author who doesn’t take the easy road in a romance novel. I want the author to stress me out, make me worry, fill me with uncertainty with how it will all play out. Lauren E. Rico succeeded at putting me through the emotional wringer and making me feel every emotion in the pit of my stomach.
Solo has all of the elements that make a forbidden romance so enticing, but as I mentioned above, it’s about more than just the taboo relationship. It’s a book about assumptions, family, acceptance, letting go, forgiveness, and allowing yourself to love and be loved. As always, Lauren E. Rico has delivered an exquisite story that was an absolute pleasure to lose myself in.