Title:Blue Notes Bundle
Author: Shira Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 11, 2016
Page Count: 1414
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Immerse yourself in the best-selling Blue Notes universe, where music and romance are intrinsically intertwined. In Blue Notes, a struggling jazz violinist meets an attorney for a true journey of the heart; in The Melody Thief, a renowned cellist, sought after by conductors the world over, seeks hope and forgiveness from a lawyer; in Aria, rekindled lust blossoms into a true romance in world of opera; in Prelude, a world-renowned conductor clashes with a substitute violinist; in Symphony in Blue, revisit the couples of the Blue Notes series; in Encore, the cool kid violinist and the wannabe conductor dance in and out of a relationship and in Dissonance, a British noble on the run meets a busker in a subway.
BLUE NOTES -3 stars
The book started strong. And I mean strong. Jason, a successful lawyer out of NY, decides he’s had enough of his routine and heart-break and wants to leave for Paris on a 2 month sabbatical right now. And he does just that. This part I loved. There are wonderful descriptions of the city through Jason’s eyes, the dark alleys, and the hole-in-the-wall jazz bar where Jason meets Jules. Jules is a 22-year old aspiring violinist who scrubs dishes for a living and performs with his band whenever there’s a cancelation at the bar. While Jason initially rejects Jules’ advances, claiming he is straight, we are in on the secret, because Jason is attracted to men but hasn’t really acted on it before –awkward teenage fumbles notwithstanding. And yet, circumstances encourage Jason to invite Jules to his sister’s house in Paris, where Jules stays, for several days.
Here things got a little tricky for me. First, the whole thing felt very formulaic. Jason and Jules were in a bubble. I get that Jason didn’t really know anyone in Paris but what about Jules? He just takes off for days on end, living on some stranger’s house, doesn’t check in at work, except for telling his roommate where he is, and just… gets on with it. Um, what? They play tourist for a few days, they go home where Jules cooks, and they have sex. That’s fine for Jason, who is on vacation, but the fact that Jules could pretty much take a similar break from his life just as easily –granted he doesn’t have a career, but still- didn’t come off as authentic to me.
Then the story started dragging for me a bit. I guess I was hoping for more character growth, or relationship development, but instead there was a lot of “Jason and his sister swoop in to save the day.” Yes, Jason spent many years in France as a teen and his name is apparently very well-known due to his career, I just didn’t buy that he could just provide solutions so easily for complicated problems occurring to a different country, like with Jules’ brother. It was presented as if Jason had these badass connections everywhere not only in the law enforcement world but in the music industry as well. At some point he casually mentioned introducing Jules to this big name agent or something. I get that it can happen, but it was too convenient.
And back to the formula. There was the big misunderstanding, the grand gesture, and a HEA. The epilogue was admittedly lovely and put a smile to my face. But the way there made me struggle to keep reading –having had to put the book down and pick it up several times in order to finish. It’s overall a light romance, with just a bit of angst, that many friends of mine on GR have enjoyed a lot. So you might enjoy being transported to Paris with the MCs more than I did. There were some very romantic scenes where Jules plays the violin for Jason that stood out. But, keep in mind that it does read like it comes from a recipe in places and is quite predictable.
THE MELODY THIEF -2 stars
I fell head over heels in love with Cary! Such a sweet, tortured character. Cary is a successful, famous cellist whose story takes place in Milan. He has serious self-esteem issues and his coping mechanisms are alcohol and bathroom sex with strangers. No intimacy. No real relationships. One night, an Italian man takes care of Cary after a mugging. Antonio is a handsome lawyer, father to a 6 year old boy, Massimo. I have to say I enjoyed reading about their relationship a lot more than Jason and Jules’ from Blue Notes. There was a sweetness to it all and the family vibe with Massimo helped to that effect. There was something really weird though. Antonio and Cary pretty much got their HEA around the half way mark. And after that, the story just dragged. There was unnecessary drama on top of unnecessary drama, specifically Cary’s dad. It was a solid 4 stars for me until all of that started happening. I was loving the book. There was literally no reason for it! The dad subplot ended up creating problems for Cary and Antonio but in a very unrealistic way. Why ruin a perfectly happy ending with half a book’s worth of shit? I don’t get it. It was like the story ended and there was a follow-up book after it to put the characters through the wringer. It seriously annoyed me and I had to bump my rating down.
ARIA -2.5 stars
Second chance romance! I love this trope. Sam and Aiden had met 5 years ago and dated for about 2 weeks when Aiden accepted a scholarship in Germany and left. Aiden was upset when he met Sam at a party organised by their mutual friends Jason and Jules in Paris. But, the sparks went flying and they started hooking up again while Sam was on vacation. But, as all good things, the vacation came to an end and Sam had to return to Philadelphia and his law firm while Aiden was busy travelling the world singing in opera houses. This book felt a lot lighter than the first two in the series. Aiden and Sam have the long-distance relationship challenge to overcome (once they decided to go steady that is) but are overall a good match. Their chemistry was strong and their sex life had more than a little healthy kink to it. All good stuff. But, as is becoming quite a pattern with these books, there has to be some contrived drama towards the end on multiple fronts. Why? I don’t get why it has to be so formulaic. If the drama succeeded in changing the dynamics a bit and creating some tension, I would be all for it, but once more, it takes the form of multiple things happening at once, miscommunication issues, the characters acting in unexpected ways out of the blue, and the relationship being threatened. I am sort of dreading reading the fourth book, because I know now, no matter how good, it will all go to shit towards the last 20% and for no good reason either.
This started off really well, which is usually the case in this series but unfortunately did not hold my interest. I have been picking it up and putting it down for weeks, able only to read a few pages at a time. At this point, I’ll have to say the author’s writing style probably does not agree with me.
Music lovers looking for relatively light hearted, low angst stories might find this series appealing.