Title: Mood Indigo
Author: Ken Bachtold
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 2, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary / Mystery
Page Count: 129
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
What happens when a powerful connection forms between two damaged strangers?
Found injured by the side of a road, Bill Ward suffers from retrograde amnesia. Having no recollection of his past, he feels like a nobody. Romance is definitely not an option for a nobody. Jazz singer and piano player Johnny Desmond, on the other hand, is emotionally dead from the ultimate betrayal. But from the moment their eyes meet, there’s no fighting it, and with their friends’ encouragement, Bill and Johnny decide to get to know each other.
Bill’s memories are hovering at the edge of his mind, tormenting him with fear and doubts about what he has to offer. Johnny also has a past—one that could endanger his life. It might have been love at first sight, but it will take courage and commitment to see it through to love that lasts forever.
Each of the main characters in Mood Indigo has issues they are dealing with that prevent them from starting a relationship. Bill has amnesia and while he has flashes of his past, he is uncertain if he will ever regain his past, and is also worried that maybe he was not such a nice guy in his “former life”. Johnny has been devastated by infidelity and is not sure if he ever get over it. Yet Bill and Johnny are drawn together from that first moment at The Treble Clef jazz club when Johnny inexplicably starts playing Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” upon first seeing Bill.
We are never told how old Bill or Johnny are, but they “feel” older given their inner conflicts and actions. Quite a bit of time is spent while each man decides if he is ready to date, and once they finally decide to do so, at around 70%, they go to the beach together. They nervously slather sunscreen on each other:
I turned onto my stomach, and he poured some of the lotion on me and began to wipe it in broad sweeps across my back. I was lucky I was lying facedown. It was a great disappointment when he finished.
“Now, would you do mine?”
I raised myself, and saw him spread out on his stomach while facing away from me. He was the soul of discretion …
The day at the beach culminates with some awkward frotting (” …. we began thrashing against each other in a kind of gymnastics never taught in school. I was glad there weren’t any people nearby, as we probably looked like some weird octopus having a fit. But, oh, it felt absolutely electric.”) which is the extent of any detailed sex in the book. Between all the awkwardness and uncertainty and fretting, Bill and Johnny seem to have little chemistry.
The author does a nice job of creating sympathetic characters to surround Bill and Johnny. Johnny’s loyal best friend is Gil, while Bill lives in an apartment building owned by Marge (a grey-haired “apple-cheeked” older woman) and her brother Charles, along with his partner of 40 years, Banner. Sadie Hall is a 1940’s era big band singer who always has a home at The Treble Clef.
The book finally kicks into high gear around 85% with a kidnapping by an over-the-top villain and a car accident that results in a coma. We finally learn how Bill ended up injured on the side of the road (in about 4 paragraphs), and the story quickly ends with a HEA.
If you are looking for a M/M romance with a sizzling sexual relationship and a fast-paced plot, Mood Indigo is not for you. I cannot personally recommend it, but some readers may enjoy it for its 1940’s retro feel and rather courtly romance.
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