ARC Review + Excerpt: Imperfect Harmony by Jay Northcote
Title: Imperfect Harmony
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Jaybird Press (self published)
Length: 66,000 words
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh
Release Date: Friday, April 15th
**This book will be exclusive to Amazon for 90 days, after that it will be available at all major retailers.**
Imperfect harmony can still be beautiful…
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.
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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.
I love each and every book by Jay Northcote and have read them all. She’s just “my kind of author” and I can trust that I won’t be disappointed by the story.
I hope the day never arrives that I don’t like a book by her.
So far that hasn’t happened and Imperfect Harmony was another fantastic story. It’s my favourite even.
I loved this book! It’s been two years since John lost his partner, David, in a car accident. Since then he has completely withdrawn from the world. He stopped playing the violin and singing and basically stopped living. He’s just existing until one day Maggie, one of his only friends left, persuades John to stay at a choir practice where he meets young and seemingly vibrant Rhys.
I loved the way Jay wrote the developing relationship. There’s an attraction there right from the start, but because both guys are still grieving, they take it slow. They become friends first and get to know each other. I loved how you could see both of them slowly falling in love and opening up again to a new love. It felt so real and I really liked how John and Rhys didn’t leave David out. He was, after all, part of Johns past and therefore couldn’t be kept a secret.
I loved the openess between Rhys and John. The perfect example for that is the first time they become intimate. It doesn’t go the way they expect, but instead of closing off they talk about it. I really, really liked that. Jay could have made it into something more dramatic than it was, but instead she handled this scene so realistically and lifelike.
Imperfect Harmony is a bit different to what Jay Northcote usually writes. It deals with heavier themes and isn’t as “light” as her other books (except for Passing Through maybe). And yet this story never becomes too much. There’s still a lightness to it and always the feeling of hope that everything will be alright. It’s still a Jay Northcote original that has this unique britishness and sweetness to it without being overly dramatic or sappy at all.
For those of you, who follow her on twitter or are a member of her FB group, you’ll know that Jay Northcote leads a choir. Music is a really important part of this story and the reader can clearly feel the passion the author has for music herself.
Highly recommend it!
**A copy of this book was provided by the author in return of an honest review**
About the author:
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.
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Genre: Contemporary Review Self Published ARC Review Imperfect Harmony Jay Northcote LGBT
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