Charm City Rocks by Matthew Norman

Are you looking for a contemporary fiction book with a dash of romance? One that doesn’t have romance as the major theme? If so, I recommend Charm City Rocks by Matthew Norman. While there is romance, there are other themes and relationships focused throughout which, in my opinion, lean this title more about friendships and family and less about romance.

Billy Perkins is an independent music teacher working out of his apartment above Charm City Rocks, a record shop in Baltimore. He’s happy. He loves his job and loves being a single dad to his nerdy teenage son, Caleb.

Margot Hammer is the former drummer of the band Burnt Flowers. They used to be famous until Margot had an infamous meltdown on television. Now she is a recluse living alone in New York City. After a new music documentary is released highlighting Burnt Flowers, Margot finds herself somewhat unwillingly thrust back into the spotlight. When a new publicist assigned to her by her label shows up on her doorstep, Margot knows she’s in for quite the life change.

Billy and Caleb have been watching this new music documentary together. When Billy mentions to Caleb that he has always had a crush on Margot, Caleb gets an idea. You see, Caleb is having difficulty choosing what college to go to because he thinks that Billy is lonely. Late one night, Caleb works out a plan to get Margot to visit Charm City Rocks.

In the cold light of day, Caleb thinks his plan is a dream, but imagine his surprise when Margot and her publicist show up in Baltimore. Her label has decided that she needs the publicity, so when the opportunity to play with a young band in Baltimore pops up, they jump at the chance. When they arrive however, they are greeted by Caleb, Billy, and the very confused owner of Charm City Rocks. This messy introduction puts Billy and Margot on a collision course to figuring out what really makes them happy.

What set this book apart for me was its unique storytelling. Norman writes from the perspectives of multiple different characters: Billy, Caleb, Margot, and more. Supporting characters are so much more in this book – readers get a glimpse into their lives and how fully they impact and interact with each other. This was a quick, charming, quirky read, one that is humorous, relatable, and goofy. This book doesn’t focus only on romantic love, which was a relief. Norman writes about family, both found and ones you’re related to, as well as finding yourself and discovering what you really need. Pick up this feel-good contemporary romance for a palette cleanser.

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