I can't say that I'd heard anything about Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez before I read it. I ended up with an American ARC of it by total whim, but ended up pretty curious about the book when I'd heard that Simon and Schuster picked it up here in the UK. (And I prefer the UK cover to that of the US cover art!)
I really like books that involve music. I think it's because I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever and I admire those who do have the skill. And Virtuosity is the story of a teenage girl, Carmen, who is under a lot of pressure. She's already a brilliant violinist, having won a Grammy, has gone on international tours playing her music, and her albums sell well. But she's entered this really prestigious competition, the Guarneri, and it really has her on edge. Carmen is worried that another competitor, Jeremy King has a shot .. in fact, it might even be that Jeremy King is better than Carmen.
And while there is a bit of a forbidden romance between Carmen and Jeremy that starts up, I don't feel as though the romance in Virtuosity is the main pulling point. For me, it's more about Carmen searching to find out what she really wants and how to make herself happy. The feelings that she has for Jeremy only help her to realise how wrong her life is at the moment. Carmen may be successful and hugely talented, but Carmen also feels stifled and anxious about how her life has spiralled out of her control. You can see that with her addiction to anti-anxiety pills and Carmen finds it difficult to live up to her mother's strict rules and high expectations of her.
I really enjoyed Virtuosity. It showed a really gritty and dark side to success, and we're able to see into the vulnerability of Carmen as she deals with uncertainty, doubt and anxiety and how she tries to pull herself together while still being under huge amounts of pressure. It was an interesting story, I just wish that I felt a little more emotionally connected in terms of Carmen's relationships with the other characters as well as her connection with music.