Hammers Strings and Beautiful Things by Morgan Lee MillerHammers, Strings, and Beautiful Things by Morgan Lee Miller is a heart wrenching romance that had me reaching for the tissue box (don’t worry folks, there is a happy ending).

Blair Bennett is 24, she’s a talented musician and lead singer of Midnight Konfusion. Her band just landed their first national tours as openers for one of the biggest popstars in the industry. Blair isn’t ready for all the changes. Grief over the death of her grandfather threatens to tear her apart. She just broke up with her girlfriend. Her mom is selling her grandfather’s house. Blair wants everything to go back to normal, but she is determined to make it through the tour and make her grandfather proud.
Reagan Moore is a Grammy winning popstar about to start her world tour. The world sees her as wholesome. That’s her brand. One she intends to protect at all costs. After a disastrous public relationship with an ex, she doesn’t share much of herself with the public. She knows better than most just how lonely it is when you’re at the top.

From the moment Blair catches sight of Reagan across the room, there are sparks between them. Reagan finds herself opening up to Blair. Blair encourages her to try new things and seize every moment of normality she can as their tour bus weaves across America.

The Characters

Blair’s pain is shown so well that I truly believed it. I loved the way Miller explored her character, it has a rawness to it that is entirely human. It pulled me in as I was reminded of my own grief over the death of my grandmothers. This same rawness also made Blair a little difficult to like sometimes. As the book progresses, she spirals into her grief and makes a few terrible choices. Her actions add a lot of drama to the novel and it is fantastic characterization, so I still enjoyed the book.

I love Reagan. The novel is told entirely from Blair’s point of view so we really get to see Reagan through her eyes and she has a bit of an early twenties Taylor Swift vibe. Reagan has this kindness that shines through in all of her actions. Even before she gets to know Blair, she takes the time to find out that the first day of the tour is her birthday and arranges a birthday cake for her.

The chemistry between these two is totally electric. Because we only see things from Blair’s point of view, there is always some doubt about Reagan’s thoughts. This adds something a little different that ramped up the tension.

The Writing Style

Lately, I’ve picked up a lot of books that have used two points of view, switching between the two main characters. It was such a delight to pick up a book that only makes use of one perspective as it allowed such a deep understanding of what Blair was going through. It can be a little tricky to develop both characters when we only see such a small portion of what is going on with the non point of view character, but Miller did a great job of developing Reagan so I never felt like I was missing out.
The raw emotion that comes through as Blair struggles through her grief was so realistic. The book was a little therapeutic for me. I lost both my grandmothers at quite a young age, and struggled a lot through my teenage years as I learned how to manage that grief as well as the unexpected ways my life changed. It was a unique experience to find something that delved into grief over the death of a grandparent as it is so often the death of a parent that we see portrayed in fiction.

The Pros

I love music. I’m not a musician but I love how much can be said with a song. So much of this novel plays on that idea that it felt really comfortable but also exciting for me. Music was also built into the chemistry between Reagan and Blair in a way that I haven’t seen before. There are mentions of a few well known songs in the book and I found myself reaching for my phone to play the songs as I was reading a few scenes.

The Cons

There is a little content warning for drug and alcohol abuse here. I’m not a huge fan of the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll image, something Blair certainly embraces. Addiction issues run in my family so I’m a little more sensitive to them than other readers might be.

The Conclusion

Hammers, Strings, and Beautiful Things is an emotionally raw read with plenty of drama. The journey Reagan and Blair share is rough in places but there is a beauty that you won’t want to miss out on. This is the first book that I’ve read of Miller’s and I am keen to go and pick up the rest of her books.

Excerpt from Hammers, Strings, and Beautiful Things by Morgan Lee Miller

Reagan’s blond hair grabbed my attention more than the bright summer sun. She smirked at me with her eyes hidden under her black Gucci glasses, and she clutched a steel coffee container in her hands. My scowl must have given something away because when she looked at me, she laughed.

“Late night?” she said, and I could hear the caffeine humming through her perky voice.

She was decked out in yoga attire that could definitely serve as a shot of espresso for me. The mandala, ocean-printed yoga pants hugged every muscle of her quads and calves while her black racerback tank top showed off those arms. Now I understood how she seamlessly jumped off that enormous stage without a grunt.

Any remaining moisture in my mouth was sucked up by Reagan Moore in her yoga outfit. How did I sign up for that yoga class?

“Yeah, uh, I guess you could say that,” I answered through my arid throat.

“Too much Southern Comfort?”

“Oh, no. More like Corbin and Miles make it sound like we’re living in Jurassic Park in there.”

She laughed. “Yeah…sometimes I have FOMO with no bus mates. And other times—like this one—I’m totally glad that I don’t. Especially boys. They’re loud.”

“And they smell,” I added.

“And they sweat constantly.”

“And they never put the seat down.”

Reagan laughed and tucked a stray hair that didn’t make it in the ponytail behind her ear. “If you ever need to escape the snoring, I have a noise machine that I don’t use because well, not to brag or anything, but I have a whole bus to myself. Don’t really need it.”

“Ouch,” I said and threw a hand over my heart. “Rub it in a little more, will you?”

“Hey, I’m just saying. Oh, and coffee. I have more coffee.” She jiggled her travel mug, and I could hear the coffee sloshing around in it.

“Oh my God, coffee. I need some.”

She offered me her mug. “Take the rest. I don’t need any more. It’s my second mug.”

“Really?”

“Really. It’s yours.”

I gladly accepted. “You’re a lifesaver.”

“Swing by after the show, and the sound machine is all yours.”

She winked and headed back into her bus.

With that wink and the blazing sun, I melted right in my spot.

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Note: I received a free review copy of Hammers, Strings, and Beautiful Things by Morgan Lee Miller. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site.

Caitlin lives in Australia, she hates the sun but loves the beach. With two dogs, three cats, and a wife, there is always someone to snuggle with while reading a great book. There aren't many genres Caitlin doesn't read, though she's usually happiest with a lesbian romance. She spends her days editing fiction and might as well live and breathe words. Any spare time she isn't reading is spent playing tabletop games or catching up on her favorite fandoms.