Series: Blue Notes, Book 4
Author: Shira Anthony & Venona Keyes
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy provided by publisher
Published: May 6, 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.
When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.
David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he'll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David's heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.
David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: Lovely, complicated romance but one string unraveled the emotional denouement for me.
The Set Up: David is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s conductor, a profession his wealthy grandfather detested, but he’s unable to compose music that lives up to his high expectations. Alex is a guest violin soloist at a concert and suddenly David is hearing haunting music. But David’s self-contained nature may make a relationship with the open and passionate Alex impossible.
Why I Read this Book: Chicago is the second city of my heart so if I read that an MM book is set in the Windy City then I read it.
What I Liked: Alex and David are very complicated characters and I love that. David’s cold, formal nature is well explained through stellar flashbacks so as a reader I understood why he behaved the way he did, especially when he’s uncomfortable. Alex’s past is just as much a part of his present as David’s but he reacts in the total opposite way. Alex’s flashback starts the book and grabbed my attention the moment I saw this teenager slowly freezing to death in the winter trying to protect his beloved violin. He lives with an open heart in comparison to David who has cut off his emotions to survive his grandfather’s disdain and his wife’s early death. The beauty is to watch these two opposite men find solace and love together. They don’t rush either their sexual or emotional intimacy but engage in a dance that takes them from Chicago to Paris and Milan over many months. I love that these complicated characters are given the time and space to develop a nuanced romance befitting the characters.
What I Also Liked: Music is a lovely secondary character in this novel. Alex is an accomplished violist but it’s the emotionally stunted David who has music haunting him. David always wanted to be a composer but his grandfather’s residual disdain prevents him from believing in his own abilities. Music haunts David in his life and this book brings that to life in many ways. Perhaps the most sensual is the musical language of David and Alex making love to each other.
One of the things I adore about romance is when it shows how people can make each better and that’s what happens here. David and Alex grow as a result of wanting to be together and it was absolutely lovely to read this. Their acceptance and love gives the other the foundation they need to be the people they want to be and this is why I love the romance genre.
What I Didn’t Like: I loved this romance with all its complexity and mistakes that the men make. What I didn’t love was how a major emotional string was dropped. Alex and David have a huge fight with Alex pushing David and David striking back with his words. What David says to Alex is intended to be a death blow to force Alex to leave him and it causes a near irreparable separation. Alex even says that this thing David says strikes at his deepest fear from his past and present. So I was expecting huge resolution at the emotional denouement where David and Alex discuss this thing David said—but NOTHING! David’s issues are certainly resolved but nothing is said about what he said to poor Alex and how deeply it injured Alex. I was gravely disappointed in this, gravely.
IMO: This was a stellar romance up until the emotional denouement where only David’s issues are resolved. I’d still recommend this romance but with the caveat that it disappointed me in the end.