Title: Imperfect Harmony
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Jaybird Press
Pages/Word Count: 189 Pages
At a Glance: This is a rather sweet story of love, loss, letting go and second chances in unexpected places.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: 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.
Review: Imperfect Harmony is really a very gentle love story. The two main characters, Rhys and John, have both experienced devastating losses. While they are both functioning, neither is really living. When they meet quite by chance at the town choir rehearsal, John is stunned that someone as young as Rhys is leading the choir. He’s also greatly impressed with Rhys’s voice and his musicality. John is only delivering his neighbor—who has recently had joint replacement—to the rehearsal, but he decides to stay after hearing Rhys.
As the choir rehearsals go on, John really enjoys himself. He’s a supply teacher at the local school, having given up his full time music teaching job after his partner’s death, and moving home to take care of his mother after her terminal diagnosis. So he’s been through quite a lot over the last few years, and one of the things he still wasn’t able to enjoy was his music, as his partner was also his partner in music as well. But, he thinks maybe it’s time for him to see if he can try to get some enjoyment from music again, and he starts playing the piano again as well.
Rhys, for his part, has also moved home and lives in an apartment at his mother’s place. He’s doing a number of various music jobs around the town and keeping quite busy. He’s returned home to lick his wounds as well, after a significant loss that has also affected his enjoyment of music. One of the things he does is volunteer to perform songs at the care home where his grandmother now lives. He would love to have some piano accompaniment, and when he finds out John can play, he invites him to participate some Sunday afternoon. John is hesitant but agrees, and Rhys is determined to lend him the music and volunteers to come round to deliver it.
As Rhys and John grow closer, they each confide the devastating losses they have endured. It’s quite poignant and it’s amazing how much they have in common, and how they have each dealt with their grief. It’s really a bit cathartic for them to be able to talk to each other, knowing there is a deeper level of understanding and no need to give platitudes. They are each at the stage where maybe it’s time for them to start letting go of the intense grief, and maybe move on even though they know they will never forget. At this point, it’s also pretty obvious that there is an attraction there. John has been feeling a bit uncomfortable because of the age difference, though. But Rhys is very convincing that it’s not an issue for him.
The rest of the story is just best read without any foreknowledge, because it just unfolds in such a perfectly paced read. Anything I say here will be too spoilery and will take away from the twists and turns that run through this unusual love story. Both men have struggles to deal with, and they each work their way through them.
One thing I especially liked was the sensitive way the author wrote their intimate scenes—the first one in particular. The tenderness and the humanity of these characters is evident in all of their interactions. I particularly thought that the motivations and the insecurities and the holding back of obvious desires on John’s part were quite well described. While Rhys is a younger character, and more comfortable with communicating his feelings verbally, he is such a sweet and vulnerable guy that I couldn’t help rooting for him to get John to see things his way. They both really deserve their happy ending.
There were also some excellent supporting characters in the story, including John’s neighbor, and Rhys’s mother and grandmother. And, of course, Rhys has a pain in the behind little brother. There are even some wonderful canine characters who also contribute to the budding relationship between John and Rhys.
I definitely recommend this story for fans of nicely paced May/December romances with characters who get a much deserved second chance at love.
You can buy Imperfect Harmony here: