Author: Shira Anthony
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (230 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by jeayci
Review Summary: A wonderful story, absolutely enjoyable as a stand-alone.
Blurb: A Blue Notes Novel
Cary Redding is a walking contradiction. On the surface he’s a renowned cellist, sought after by conductors the world over. Underneath, he’s a troubled man flirting with addictions to alcohol and anonymous sex. The reason for the discord? Cary knows he’s a liar, a cheat. He’s the melody thief.
Cary manages his double life just fine until he gets mugged on a deserted Milan street. Things look grim until handsome lawyer Antonio Bianchi steps in and saves his life. When Antonio offers something foreign to Cary—romance—Cary doesn’t know what to do. But then things get even more complicated. For one thing, Antonio has a six-year-old son. For another, Cary has to confess about his alter ego and hope Antonio forgives him.
Just when Cary thinks he’s figured it all out, past and present collide and he is forced to choose between the family he wanted as a boy and the one he has come to love as a man.
Review: I’m not a fan of insta-love and I love stories that show what happens after the couple ride off into the sunset together, so I really appreciated this one. Cary and Antonio get to know each other a bit before falling in love, and once they do there’s still quite a bit of story left to see what their life together looks like. That really worked for me.
The world of classical music and professional musicians was beautifully drawn, making me feel I was right there, living it with Cary. I appreciated the opportunity to be immersed in another world for a while, and to experience Cary’s journey along with him. I loved (and ached for) the significance of the title.
I ached for Cary and his belief that his only worth was his musical ability. It was understandable With his family background, but there were also a few moments at the beginning that seemed to contradict that, moments when he’d say or do something suggesting he knew he was worth more than that. That made getting a clear sense of his character a bit tricky at first, but once the story and I got into the groove, all was well.
Cary started out so damaged, and the “meet cute” was when Antonio rescued him from a mugging, so right from the beginning Antonio was clearly the knight in shining armor. I liked him, but I thought he was maybe a little too perfect, with his patience, understanding, awesome family, and so much more. Even though Antonio was arguably less than perfect with his lack of musical or artistic ability, I thought that was part of what made him a good complement to Cary and it helped me better appreciate why he was so drawn to Cary.
There was one thing about Antonio that confused me, a seemingly trivial detail but one that – once mentioned – required an explanation that never came: why was he circumcised? Because it’s so unusual for Italians to be cut, and because we were so explicitly told that he was, I expected that we would get an explanation which would offer some new insight into Antonio and/or his family; it never came, so it just endlessly niggled at me.
I also felt like there was some lack of resolution with Cary’s brother, who I had hoped and expected to see him visit. Family was such an issue for Cary, and I loved that he got a second chance at understanding both of his parents. It was a big deal for him to finally realize they both loved him, each in their own ways. Some of the storyline with his father felt a little unnecessarily over-dramatic, like a plot device to create tension in his relationship with Antonio. But aside from that, I loved the opportunity it provided for him to heal a bit, and thus make his HEA with Antonio all the more believable.
This was an engrossing story that I was able to enjoy greatly without having read the first in the Blue Notes series. Whether I might have enjoyed it more if I’d read the other first is, of course, impossible to say. But the claim that it stands alone is one I can happily vouch. Recommended.