Review: Heart & Soul by Shae Connor

Love can sneak up on you in the last place you’d expect.

Kellen Grady has known he’s gay since he was a teenager, but he’s never been that interested in dating. A professional pianist, he’s happy spending his days teaching students of all ages and his nights working and playing at an Atlanta bar and concert venue. When former pro football player Terrence Harvey and his brother buy the bar, Kellen’s thrown by the change to his routine, but he develops a quick friendship with Terrence, drawn to his sunny nature and sharp mind. Then their relationship takes a turn when Terrence surprises Kellen with a kiss. The unexpected action, though not unwelcome, leaves Kellen faced with reevaluating everything he thought he knew—about Terrence, and about himself.

Heart and Soul wrapped me up like a warm hug and nudged me gently in the feels just right. Every now and again everyone needs a story that is a little more quiet and a little more mellow. A story that is character driven and those characters are real, likeable and accessible. That’s just what Heart and Soul is. It didn’t change my view of the world and I won’t remember details in minutiae next month but I will recall how it made me feel and it made me feel . . . . well, it made me feel good.

Kellen Grady is a professional pianist and his first love is and has always been, his music. He plays in a bar in the evenings and on weekends and gives music lessons during the day. He writes his own compositions and the author didn’t have to tell me he loved what he did because I could see it in all his actions. Kellen is a pretty chill guy all around. He’s dated, but love has never really disrupted his comfortable routine.

Retired pro NFL player Terrence and his brother buy the bar that Kellen has worked at for years and that impending change in Kellen’s routine has him a little uneasy, but he’s not unreasonable and while he’s not exactly happy, he recognizes the fact that he needs to keep an open mind and keep his discomfort to himself. At the same time his sister and her toddler son have moved in with him in the family home as she is splitting with her husband. For Kellen, this is a lot of things to deal with. 

Terrence and his brother are just great. They realize that part of the charm of the bar is in all of the things that are already in place and their changes are all about improving on the existing success. It was perfect for Kellen and allowed for him to roll with the newness more comfortably and also allow him to get a little closer to Terrence along the way.

The growing relationship between Kellen and Terrence is the gold in this story. All the “upheaval” in Kellen’s life wasn’t bad, just different and it distracted him enough from his own mental ramblings so that Terrence was able to work his charms on Kellen without scaring him off. None of that was constructed mind you, it just flowed along organically and I flowed along with it.

It was refreshing to read a story with mature men who communicated in a realistic way. They never held back because of fabricated drama for the sake of it or walked away because of reasons. Their relationship progressed like a relationship should. It wasn’t too easy, but it wasn’t fraught with manufactured difficulties either and I appreciated that most of all.

Heart and Soul is the definition of a comfort read and when you’re in the need for some comfort (and who isn’t these days?) queue up this one and be reminded that the simplest things are often the best.

For more information on Heart & Soul by Shae Connor, check it out on Goodreads.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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