Colton Gentry's Third Act

A Novel


By Jeff Zentner

Formats and Prices




$25.99 CAD

This "story of love, healing, and second chances ” (Emily Henry) from an award-winning author follows a down on his luck country musician who, in the throes of grief after a shocking loss, moves back home and rekindles a relationship with his high school sweetheart.

Colton Gentry is riding high. His first hit in nearly a decade has caught fire, he’s opening for country megastar Brant Lucas, and he’s married to one of the hottest acts in the country. But he’s hurting. Only a few weeks earlier, his best friend, Duane, was murdered onstage by a mass shooter at a country music festival. One night, with his trauma festering and Jim Beam flowing through his veins, Colton stands before a sold-out arena crowd of country music fans and offers his unfiltered opinion on guns. It goes over poorly.
Immediately, his career and marriage implode. Left with few choices or funds, he retreats to his rural Kentucky hometown. He’s resigned himself to has-been-dom, until a chance encounter at his town’s new farm-to-table restaurant gives him a second shot at life: a job working in the kitchen with Luann, his first love, who has undergone her own reinvention. Told through perspectives alternating between his senior year of high school, his time coming up with Duane as hungry musicians in Nashville, and the present, COLTON GENTRY’S THIRD ACT is a story of coming home, undoing past heartbreaks, and navigating grief, and is a reminder that there are next acts in life, no matter how unlikely they may seem. 


    "Colton Gentry's Third Act by Jeff Zentner is a fantastic book filled with incredible characters. Country music star Colton Gentry's life is going perfectly, until the death of his close friend and a Jim Beam-fueled speech he gives while on stage at a giant show has Colton returning to his hometown in Kentucky. It's there that Colton reconnects with Luann, the first woman he ever loved, and has him thinking that maybe his best days aren't all behind him quite yet. Told through three alternating timelines—high school, his rise to fame, and the present—Colton Gentry's Third Act is a novel packed with feels that will have you laughing while reading one page and then crying while reading the next. A beautiful story of love, growth, and second (or, you know, third, fourth, sometimes fifth) chances, you'll be cheering Colton on right through the book's fantastic end."
    Isaac Fitzgerald, TODAY Show
  • "Jeff Zentner has a knack for finding poetry in everyday situations. . .The narrative weaves between Colton’s come-up, adolescence, and present, stitching heartbreak, grief, and hope into one devastating arc that will leave a smile on your face even as it draws out a tear."
    Vanity Fair
  • “Reading Colton Gentry's Third Act feels like sitting down with old friends to your favorite home-cooked meal, reminiscing late into the night and laughing giddily by the time the sun comes up. It's warm and comforting, and brimming with a heady nostalgia that will transport you right back to your own youthful summers and life-changing firsts. A story of love, healing, and second chances that's not to be missed.” 
    Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read and Book Lovers
  • “Country music was born to tell stories and so was Jeff Zentner. Colton Gentry's Third Act is fueled by a broken heart, and a determination to heal through hard work, forgiveness, and grit—just like the very best country songs. Keep this one on repeat.”
    Steven Rowley, New York Times bestselling author of The Celebrants
  • "What a book! A beautiful, hard-earned triumph. Jeff Zentner has delivered a story that is as raw as it is real, with dialogue that sings straight from the pages, and a redemptive love story that will make your heart ache. Charming and defiant, Colton Gentry’s Third Act will strum at your heartstrings as it tells its tale of redemption, transformation, and true love."
    Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling author of The Paradise Problem
  • "A timely message set to the timeless tune of a love story, Colton Gentry's Third Act overflows with heart, hope, and the sweetness of relationships that last a lifetime. Get ready to have it stuck in your head like a song."
    Mary Laura Philpott, author of Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives
  • "Colton Gentry's Third Act is a meditative, deeply romantic novel about rebirth and redemption, the guts it takes to strip yourself bare and start over, and the rewards of taking the risk. You'll devour it."
    Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, bestselling authors of The Royal We and The Heir Affair
  • "Readers are going to devour this bighearted story of redemption. Zentner takes on a timely, important issue without ever being didactic. He provides us with characters we can root for, a sexy love story that will keep the pages turning, and delicious prose, whether he's describing the smell of honeysuckle on a summer evening, a mouth-watering meal, or the power of music. Don't miss Colton Gentry's Third Act."
    Silas House, author of Southernmost and Poet Laureate of Kentucky
  • "Like the best country love songs, Colton Gentry's Third Act breaks your heart, stitches it back together, and makes you want to hear the story over and over just to feel something. This is the book Jeff Zentner was born to write." 
    Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author of Cutting Teeth
  • “I came out with my heart both shattered and full. Damn it, but this book has it all—an intensely likable character, a heartbreaking story, and achingly beautiful writing.”
    Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers
  • “Brimming with southern charm and deftly balancing humor with poignancy, Zentner’s story of second (and third) chances is sure to win over readers who love a redemption story.”
    Booklist, starred review
  • "[W]ith a deft hand and lush, descriptive writing, the author manages to weave it all together into a yarn worthy of a classic country record. An emotional meditation on coming home to yourself."
  • "[A] swoon-worthy romance. . . Fans of wholesome Americana will lap this up."
    Publishers Weekly
  • “Readers will root for the affable Colton Gentry and his much-needed third act and no doubt wish his creator greater joy in this new venture.”
    Chapter 16
  • "Zentner skillfully alternates through three different timelines in his novel... But what will stick with readers is the affection with which Zentner writes about the South, from its lush landscapes and wild weather to its food."

On Sale
Jan 28, 2025
Page Count
400 pages

Jeff Zentner

About the Author

Jeff Zentner is the author of New York Times Notable Books The Serpent King and In the Wild Light, as well as Goodbye Days and Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee. Among other honors, he has won the ALA’s William C. Morris Award, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award twice, the Muriel Becker Award, and the International Literacy Association Award, been long-listed twice for the Carnegie Medal, and been a two-time Southern Book Prize finalist. Before becoming a writer, he was a musician who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He lives in Nashville. 

Learn more about this author