What Jeff Zentner Brings to the Romance World

Jeff Zentner discusses the inspiration for his emotional adult debut romance novel Colton Gentry’s Third Act, which celebrates food, music, and second chances.

Celebrated young adult novelist Jeff Zentner returns to our space to discuss his transition from writing young adult books to his surprising new release—a romance debut for adults called Colton Gentry’s Third Act. 

We discuss the critical differences between writing for adults and young adults, the romantic book that inspired Jeff’s plot, and the feedback Emily Henry provided to shape his romance scenes. 

Jeff also talks about the emotional impact of his writing on Gen-Z readers and the connection he has found through his school tours across the country. 

Be sure to stick around to the end to get Jeff’s second chance love story recommendations! 

Colton Gentry’s Third Act Book Summary

This earnest second-chance love story opens with an emotionally charged moment when a drunken Colton Gentry professes outrage against gun violence on the microphone at a sold-out show that he is performing.

The reason for this outburst is not politically driven but personally driven because his best friend was murdered onstage by a mass shooter at a country music festival. 

As Colton’s drunken rant begins, his team cuts his microphone midsentence, unleashing a cancellation by the country music industry for his public stance against gun rights.

With his personal life in shambles, a defeated Colton returns home to live with his mother, trying to find a new purpose and financial freedom away from his infamous past.

Luann, left behind by Colton when the two struggled to navigate a long-distance romance when they were kids, is now the proud owner of a local farm-to-table restaurant whose dishes wow Colton’s dishes when he visits as a patron.

Still smarting from the loss years ago, Luann sets aside her misgivings to allow Colton to work as a sous chef for the restaurant. 

But how will this impact Luann’s world when Colton becomes the punching bag for a media circus that trails him? And, after leaving her, is he deserving of this redemption story? 

The book offers readers a slow-burn romance as Luann and Colton rekindle their relationship. 

Readers should know that Colton Gentry’s Third Act is steamy, but mostly a closed-door romance!

To accompany today’s show, I have a Second Chance Romance Novels book list to celebrate 19 beautiful new beginnings and second chances.

Meet Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner is the author of New York Times Notable Books The Serpent King and In the Wild Light, as well as Goodbye Days, Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee, and his forthcoming debut for the adult market, Colton Gentry’s Third Act and a YA novel in verse, Sunrise Nights, coauthored with Brittany Cavallaro.

Among other honors, he has won the ALA’s William C. Morris Award, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award twice, the Muriel Becker Award, the International Literacy Association Award, and been longlisted twice for the Carnegie Medal.

He’s a two-time Southern Book Prize finalist; and was a finalist for the Indies Choice Award. He was selected as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start and an Indies Introduce pick. His books have been translated into fifteen languages. Before becoming a writer, he was a musician who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He lives in Nashville.  

Colton Gentry’s Third Act is his adult debut romance.

Jeff Zentner Books

We encourage readers to visit our Jeff Zentner author page where we keep our readers updated on his new books. I’m lucky to have been a fangirl since the beginning of his career!

What Jeff Zentner Brings to the Romance World

Listen to the Book Gang Podcast:

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Mentioned in this episode:

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Colton Gentry’s Third Act by Jeff Zentner

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Kennedy Ryan Phenomenon: Inclusive Narratives with Heart

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Serpent King tattoo 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Happy Place by Emily Henry

Normal People

One Day by David Nicholls

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

Before Sunrise Trilogy

Sunrise Nights by Jeff Zentner and Brittany Cavallaro

Hello Girls by Emily Henry and Brittany Cavallaro

The Best Jeff Zentner Books

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Published April 25, 2024 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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