Review: Makes the Heart Grow Fouler by Carrie Aarons

Note: An advance reader copy (ARC) was provided by the author.

If you told me three years ago that I'd lose my dad, meet my music idol, fall in love with him, bet at a crossroads with my job, and not want to make New York City my home... 
I would have told you all of that was insane. But it's my current reality, and nothing has ever felt more normal.

When Dane appeared in Carrie Aarons's previous standalone, Say You Love Me Again, there was something about the mysterious country singer that made me think he needed his own story told. So when the author announced that he would, indeed, be getting a book, it goes without saying that it became one of my most anticipated reads for this first half of 2023. Makes the Heart Grow Fouler is Dane's story, and this man who's beloved for his music, who chooses to go by a mononym, and is known for being reclusive and highly protective of his daughter is an enigma...that is, until a twenty-six-year-old journalist named Margot Hallow shows up at his house. The magazine she works for, Dash Mod, has been promised an interview, and if it weren't for the fact that it was to help bring more attention for a cause that matters a great deal to Dane, he would never have agreed, albeit reluctantly so and with regrets afterwards. Getting to the heart of the thirty-eight-year-old legendary musical artist was never going to be easy, but losing her heart to him means Margot could risk a job she loves, especially since Dane's no white-knight hero--he's a self-confessed villain.

Considering how much in awe I was of Say You Love Me Again, suffice it to say that the bar was astronomically high for Makes the Heart Grow Fouler, maybe unfairly so. Dane's behavior for quite a bit of the book--and not just exclusively in the beginning as the oh-so-reluctant interview subject--results in him having to earn my respect and affection, and earn both he did. He isn't the easiest of main characters to like, what more love, but he has his reasons for being the man that he is. There's a great deal of growth to him, even as he retains who he is at heart--protective, loyal, intense, and demanding. He most certainly met his match in Margot, and I loved seeing her go toe to toe with him. She had such strength and conviction, and I liked how she forged her own kinships with Shiloh, Dane's headstrong college-bound daughter, and Brady, Dane's best friend, manager, and everything in between. Having most of the story play out within the confines of Dane's compound made for such an interesting dynamic among the characters. Being up close while Margot and Dane went through those trials in order to get their happily-ever-after felt like a privilege. Five-plus stars.

Release Date: 21 April 2023

Date Read: 15 March 2023

Learn more about Carrie Aarons.

Pre-order Makes the Heart Grow Fouler on Amazon.


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