John Fletcher, a former musician, is stuck in limbo after losing his long-term partner two years ago. He’s shut himself off from everything that reminds him of what he’s lost. When his neighbour persuades him to join the local community choir, John rediscovers his love of music and finds a reason to start living again.
Rhys Callington, the talented and charismatic choir leader, captures John’s attention from the first moment they meet. He appears to be the polar opposite of John: young, vibrant, and full of life. But Rhys has darkness in his own past that is holding him back from following his dreams.
Despite the nineteen-year age gap, the two men grow close and a fragile relationship blossoms. Ghosts of the past and insecurities about the future threaten their newfound happiness. If they’re going to harmonise in life and love as they do in their music, they’ll need to start following the same score.
After the death of his partner, John Fletcher became a recluse, shutting himself off from the world of music that he had loved so much. It isn’t until he happens to be helping an elderly neighbour to a local choir that he tries to reconnect with a part of his and his partners’ old life. Rhys Callington was a rising star in the London music scene, until a night gone horribly wrong convinced him to go back home. Now he fulfills his love of music by running a small local choir. When John and Rhys meet, they connect over their shared grief and love of music. Slowly, the two begin to heal each other.
I read Jay Northcote when I’m in the mood for something quiet and easy. Even her angstier reads, like Imperfect Harmony, don’t require too much effort to just sit back and enjoy. What makes it even better is when her romances are set in the English countryside. I’ve got a thing for small-town romances, and this author delivers with her stories of ordinary men and the tight-knit communities they live in.
I really liked how the MC’s love of music was interwoven throughout the story, and throughout their healing process. Both John and Rhys use music to confront their grief and their regrets. This is especially true for John, who couldn’t bear to continue singing and playing his fiddle after his partner’s death. I’m not very artistically inclined, so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the music aspect as much as I did.
This book is as much about Rhys and John coming to terms with the deaths of their lovers, as it is about the two falling in love.
The pace of the romance was sweet and slow. While John and Rhys are attracted to each other from early on, they recognize that the other has certain hang-ups. So the two take things slowly. I enjoyed watching the two MCs come together to create some music, and in the process fall for each other. There are some doubts along the way, but John and Rhys talk these problems out and find solutions that work for them.
It felt very real, and true to how two bereaved men might come together. Likewise, when they get to the physical part of their relationship, their rediscovery of what they like and enjoy was realistic.
And yet there was something that just didn’t let me enjoy this book as much as I’d hoped to - John’s martyr complex. The nineteen year age gap between Rhys and John is a big sticking point for John. He finds various ways to stress over how the age gap might affect their relationship. I’d say until very near the end of the book, it was Rhys pulling the weight and trying to make their relationship work. And I understood John’s fears, to a point, but the repetitive monologues and self-recrimination got old pretty fast.
That being said, Imperfect Harmony is still a very good read. If you’re looking for a simple romance between two men who rediscover love and joy, this is the book for you.
Global Amazon link: http://mybook.to/ImperfectHarmony
NB: Imperfect Harmony will be exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. After that it will be available at all retailers.
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Check out an excerpt of Imperfect Harmony below:
Luckily there were still some parking spaces outside the church hall where Maggie’s choir met. John made sure they arrived a little early so Maggie wouldn’t have to walk too far. She was managing well on one crutch, but she still tired easily. After he parked, he got out and hurried around to help her out of the passenger door.
“Thanks, love,” she said, patting him on the arm. “I can manage now.”
A vicious gust of wind whipped a strand of hair into her face. It was dark, still sleeting, and probably slippery underfoot. There was no way John was going to leave until she was safely indoors. “I’ll just see you inside. Let me take your bag.”
Maggie let him have it without argument, and he popped it over his arm. He hovered close to Maggie as she made her way slowly to the double doors. He held one open for her and was hit by a blast of warm air. Then he accompanied her inside as she crutched along the corridor towards an open door. Yellow light flooded out, and the sound of a tenor voice singing “I Can See Clearly Now” raised the hairs on the back of John’s neck with its pure, clear beauty.
“I thought you said the emphasis was on fun rather than perfection?” he said quietly. “He’s got quite a voice.”
“That’ll be Rhys, our choir leader,” Maggie said with a smile. “Come and meet him, even if you’re not staying.”
Maggie paused when she reached the doorway and put a finger to her lips. They listened and waited for Rhys to finish singing. John peered over Maggie’s shoulder, hoping for a glimpse of the man the voice belonged to. Rhys, John presumed, was alone in the room. With his back to the door, he stood at a table pushed to the edge of the room, shuffling through some papers as he sang. All John could see of him was that he was small and slight, and quite young, based on the cut of his clothes. A hood covered his hair.
When he finished, Maggie started clapping.
Rhys wheeled around. “Oh my God! You made me jump.” He pushed his hood down and his face lit up as he beamed. “Maggie. How are you?”John’s eyes widened as he took in Rhys’s front view as he approached Maggie and gave her a careful hug. His hair, which was shaved at the back and sides, was long on top and dyed peacock blue. His eyebrow was pierced, his arms were covered with tattoos, and the front of his T-shirt was emblazoned with a glittery equals sign in rainbow colours. All in all, he was at least twenty years younger than John had expected and completely unlike how John would have imagined a choir leader to look. In this dingy church hall in their small market town, Rhys looked like a bird of paradise that had accidentally ended up in a cage full of sparrows.
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.