Book Spotlight: The Love Song of Sawyer Bell by Avon Gale

The Love Song of Sawyer Bell
(Tour Dates #1)
by Avon Gale
Date Released: September 25, 2017

About The Love Song of Sawyer Bell
Victoria “Vix” Vincent has only two weeks to find a replacement fiddle player for her band’s summer tour. When classically trained violinist Sawyer Bell shows up for an audition, Vix is thrilled. Sawyer is talented, gorgeous, funny, and excited about playing indie rock instead of Beethoven. Their friendship soon blossoms into romance, even though Vix tries to remember that Sawyer’s presence is only temporary.

Sawyer’s parents think she’s spending the summer months touring Europe with a chamber ensemble. But Sawyer is in dire need of a break from the competitiveness of Juilliard, and desperately wants to rediscover her love of music. Going on tour with her secret high school crush is just an added bonus. Especially when Vix kisses her one night after a show, and they discover that the stage isn’t the only place they have chemistry.

But the tour won’t last forever, and as the summer winds down, Sawyer has to make a tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart.

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An Excerpt from The Love Song of Sawyer Bell
There was a knock at the door that startled them all. Their next audition was here, and Vix’s headache was only going to get worse.

Jeff hollered, “Come on in,” and Vix readied herself to be disappointed yet again. Jesus, she wanted a Coke Zero. Water sucked and had all the flavor of . . . well, water. Ew.

The basement had a walk-out and a separate entrance, which meant they could hold the auditions in air-conditioned comfort and not have strangers traipsing through the nicer areas of the Townleys’ house upstairs. Which was a good thing, considering the guy with the beard had also left muddy footprints on the floor, and it wasn’t wet outside. But the girl who walked in for the next audition probably would have fit in well with the clean-cut, standard country d├ęcor the Townleys favored. She looked like she’d gotten lost on the way to band practice, with her summer dress; long, straight brown hair worn past her shoulders; and perfect-length fringe bangs. Vix envied girls who could pull off bangs. She looked like she was ten when she tried having them, even with the purple hair.

“I’m here for the audition,” fringe-bangs said hesitantly. “For the fiddle player?” She held up a violin case, as if maybe they didn’t know what that was.

Well, she was the first one that had showed up with her instrument properly stored, so that was already a plus as far as Vix was concerned. She peered at the girl—she was tall, but most people were taller than Vix, and looked nervous, and Vix immediately wanted to lecture her about going to strange people’s basements and why that wasn’t a good idea.

“Um,” said Jeff, when it became apparent they were all staring at her. “Are you old enough to be here?” Trust Jeff to get right to the point.

“I’m twenty-one,” the girl said. They all had to lean forward to catch what she was saying. If she played the fiddle as quietly as she spoke, it wouldn’t matter if she sucked or not because no one would hear her.

“What’s your name?” Vix thought that the girl looked vaguely familiar—but that might be because she looked wholesome enough to be in a soap commercial, or maybe a Cover Girl poster at Target.

“Sawyer Bell,” she said.

“Cool name,” said Vix. “I’m the Victoria of Victoria Vincent, which is us.” She indicated the band with a wave of her hand. “This is Jeff Townley, bass guitarist. Connor Rice, drummer, and Kit Casey, keyboardist, pedal steel player, and occasional guitarist. I sing and play guitar. And usually people call me Vix.”

“Nice to meet y’all.” Sawyer cleared her throat and held up the violin case. “Should I play?”

“Wait, you do understand this tour runs through August, right?” Vix asked, because in addition to looking like she should be working at Ann Taylor LOFT, Sawyer had to be a college student.

Sawyer nodded. “I don’t have to be back at school until September.”

“Where do you go to school? University of Tennessee?” That was where Vix assumed people from around here went to college. Most everyone she’d gone to high school with had moved from Germantown to Knoxville, if they’d done the whole college thing.

“Um.” The girl ducked her head like she was embarrassed. “Juilliard, actually.”

Juilliard . . . as in, the performing arts school? Whoa. Vix waved her on. “Okay, well, show us what you’ve got.”

Sawyer opened the violin case and took out her instrument, which was a lot nicer than anyone else’s—including Bryant’s. The wood on the body was shined to perfection, gorgeous in the flickering fluorescent light of the basement. Sawyer moved so she was standing in the little audition space they’d arranged by moving the furniture. “Any requests?”

“Something good?” Connor offered, and Vix snorted a laugh.

“Whatever,” said Vix. She didn’t want to get too excited. Just because Sawyer was talented enough to get into Juilliard, didn’t mean she’d be any good at playing their kind of music. Okay, no, it probably did, but damn it. Vix didn’t want to get her hopes up that this sweet, polite girl was somehow also a violin virtuoso.

Except she totally was. Sawyer started to play, and it became quickly apparent that she was not only better than everyone else who’d shown up to audition by a country mile . . . she was better than their actual fiddle player. Sure, she was playing something classical and boring, but the technique was undeniable. She had that spark too; the one that said, I know music, I love music, and I will play the shit out of it.

Not only that, but performing turned Sawyer from a shy girl with too-long hair and a summer dress into . . . well, a musician. She closed her eyes and swayed with the notes, her body falling into the rhythm of the bow moving across the strings. The music was pulled out of her in the same way Vix felt when she was singing, when all the words tumbled from her like a storm. Sawyer bit her bottom lip between her teeth as if losing herself in the music, and it was beautiful.

She seemed older when she played, or maybe that wasn’t the right word. More mature? Wiser? Something. Whatever it was, Vix knew without a doubt Sawyer would be amazing in their band. She could hardly believe this was real. For the first time in her life, Vix fought an urge to reach down and pinch herself. Sawyer was that good.

Hot, too. Wow.

When Sawyer stopped playing, the room was dead quiet. The echoes of the violin still vibrated through the room, and Vix could feel the chords dancing like rain over her skin. It made her shiver. Even her headache was forgotten.

“Um, so, that was . . .” Connor trailed off. “I mean, that was good. Like, really good.”

“Can you play something not classical?” Vix interrupted, because as much as it was obvious Sawyer had talent . . . they didn’t play anything like whatever that piece was Sawyer had performed. “We’re kind of an Americana, indie-rock band. So less Mozart, more Uncle Tupelo.”

Jeff glanced over at her, an eyebrow raised. Sure, that was probably a dick move, pulling out the Uncle Tupelo reference, but whatever. They were an important influence on Victoria Vincent’s musical style. So what if they broke up in 1994? She absolutely would not get this girl on board and then find out she couldn’t play anything by anyone who hadn’t died in the seventeen hundreds or whatever.

Sawyer smiled a little. “Uncle Tupelo is more alt-country than indie rock, isn’t it? Or did you mean Wilco?” Her eyes were bright and happy.

“Ha!” Jeff laughed, then covered it with an unconvincing cough and a that’s what you get look at Vix.

Before Vix could say anything, Sawyer started to play again. It began with the melody from Uncle Tupelo’s “Whiskey Bottle,” segued into Wilco’s “Casino Queen” and ended with Son Volt’s “Windfall.”

When Sawyer put her violin down again, Vix had to laugh. “Okay, you schooled my pretentious ass. Nicely done.” She hopped up to her feet. “Now, let’s see how you sound playing our music. Bring your fancy fiddle and follow me.”

About Avon Gale
Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal Midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert, and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

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To celebrate this release, one lucky winner will receive a signed paperback copy of The Love Song of Sawyer Bell! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 30, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! 

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  1. Love Avon's hockey books, would love to read this one. bellabarratt (at)


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