Title: Just the Right Notes
Author: Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Length: Novel (194 pgs; print and ebook)
Genre: Contempory m/m
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
IN A NUTSHELL: Graham and Elliott are madly in love, are extremely talented, and have to have lots and lots of kinky sex to keep their creative juices flowing.
Elliot is an up and coming architect who just opened his own firm. His lover Graham is a composer and conductor. They share their love and lives in a beautiful house designed by Elliot, and whenever things get too hard to handle, they run away to their little cabin getaway where Elliot becomes Dom to Graham’s needy little sub.
When things at Elliot’s firm begin to crumble, Graham needs to be the strong one, the one to suggest the cottage and the games they play there, knowing Elliot’s role as Dom will give him strength, that their games will recharge his lover. And together they keep working to find that precarious balance in their lives until an accident threatens to change everything. Will Elliot and Graham’s love see them through and keep the music in their lives?
This is a classic Sean Michael book with his trademark: lots of kinky sex between the two main characters. Fans of the author (like me) will probably read the book because that’s what we do and non-fans will give it a pass. Even though I read all the way through, I did find myself skimming the sex scenes. It’s not Sean’s strongest offering.
Just the Right Notes features Graham and Elliott, who are very much in love and have been together for an unspecified amount of time. Graham is a concert violinist and composer while Elliott is an architect who has recently branched out to run his own design firm. Graham’s creative muse gets blocked quite regularly. The cure for this: Elliott takes him to their cabin in the woods where they have mind-blowing D/s sex for days on end. This process gets Graham’s head back into the proper place to be able to effortlessly write award winning symphonies. Life is good.
The book opens with Elliott realizing that it is time for one of these sexual healing weekends. He grabs his black bag—always packed with lots of toys and ready at a moment’s notice—hustles Graham into the car and off they go. The first 40% of the book covers this one weekend in painful (pun intended) detail. Elliott does things to Graham that I am not sure are humanly possible—at least in terms of frequency and size—but hey, this is a sexual fantasy, so forget reality and go along for the ride.
They return to the city after the weekend, Graham fired up and ready to write, when we learn that things aren’t going so well for Elliott. It turns out that even though he is a brilliant architect, he’s not so adept at the business side of things and as a result, he’s just about to lose everything. Fortunately, though, Graham has an offer to go on tour which will allow him to make a pile of money and hold things together for the time being. Unfortunately, it means they’ll be separated for four months.
That gets us to about the 50% point of the book so I’ll stop there and let the reader discover the rest. Suffice it to say, whenever Graham and Elliott hit a rough patch, sex is the cure, so there is as much sex in the second half as there is in the first, with a little bit of angst tossed in to provide some sort of a story.
“Some sort of story” is probably the weakest part of the book. Elliott is losing his business but the biggest impact that seems to have on his life is to say, once or twice that he’s worried about money—that’s about it. While on tour, Graham receives flowers and a fruit basket from a man named Nathan; Elliott has a flare of jealousy but when he finds out that Nathan is a tour promoter—end of conflict.
There is a dramatic event at the three-quarter point of the book which provides yet another opportunity for Elliott to be the healer. I was actually thinking it would have been a nice twist for misfortune to befall Elliott and let Graham take over in the healing role for a change. But no, that’s not their dynamic and no matter what is going on in real life, Elliott is always the Dom.
What I did like is that Elliott and Graham were so madly, passionately in love and occasionally, when they had an actual conversation (and weren’t having sex) they reflected on this—how amazing it was that they were together, would always be together, and so on. I like true love forever stories and the strength of their relationship was the one thing that allowed me to keep plowing along through the endless sex scenes.
Like I said, this is trademark Sean Michael so expect dildos, nipple clamps, shaving, and more. At one point Graham comments that he almost got his nipples pierced in Albuquerque but chickened out. I sort of wished he did. Oh well, maybe in the sequel.
Would I recommend? If you’ve read Sean Michael before, you know exactly what you are getting, so you can decide if this story appeals or not. Those who enjoy ass-play—serious ass-play, which is the foundation of Graham and Elliott’s sexual relationship—may also find this intriguing. Beyond that, I’ll let individual readers decide if this type of story is their cup of tea.