“Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST”– Frank Zappa
Why haven’t I read more books by Shira Anthony? Who is responsible for letting me get away with only ever reading one other book by her? You will be found and subjected to the proper punishment. This book was GREAT. I was a touch concerned because the only other Shira book I had read was the first in this series, but this one totally stood alone.
We meet Roger Nelson and John Fuchs in this story. It was a wonderful, angst, scary, fun, frustrating journey with them that spanned over thirty years. They meet when Roger was the cool kid in the orchestra in high school. I didn’t know such a thing existed, but Shira Anthony wrote him that way and made it believable. He played the violin. In moved John from a private school his parents could no longer afford because they had gotten divorced.
John dreams of becoming an orchestra conductor. He is just coming to terms with the fact that he is gay. He hopes Roger is gay, but he says he isn’t. The two become close friends and eventually lovers. They go away to college together. Roger’s family hates John. Whether it is because they know he and their son are lovers is unknown. When Roger’s brother is killed in Vietnam, Roger tries to be the perfect son that his brother always was. His mother has a master’s degree in manipulation and she has perfected it on Roger. Instead of holding tightly to his lover, Roger pushes John away.
What follows is an odyssey that brings Roger and John together like magnets and then apart again. Their lives continually orbit each other. They seem destined to be together, but something or someone is always in the way. Over a period of twenty years, Roger and John dance around their love for each other. One thing never changes. As much as they are in love, they are best friends. That’s how they started out and neither man is willing to sacrifice that friendship to time, distance or circumstances. It is heartbreaking to see them have to settle for only that friendship.
While John has been able to attain his dream of being a successful conductor, he has gone the way of the slut. A different man every night, no last names, no repeats. He is as famous for his sex life as he is for his work. Roger lost his dream of playing the violin in a professional orchestra many years ago and has always struggled with the acceptance of that loss.
Circumstances finally find both men free of relationships. Roger is determined to take advantage of this opportunity, and he tells John he still loves him and asks for another chance. John is so afraid of getting his heart broken again that he runs away. Roger realizes that he will have to do some convincing if he wants to really have John back in his life the way he wants him.
Shira Anthony writes beautifully of the agony of dreams lost, as well as she does about the sweetness of dreams attained. I felt like I knew Roger and John. They were so realistically written. Many of the themes in Encore weren’t new ones. Shira Anthony made them feel new, though. Even though, as an avid LGBT romance reader, I knew what was coming in a lot of cases, there was enough of a spin on it for it to feel new. The characters were so unique that everything they did, every word they spoke, seemed like the first time I had read a book with the same basic outline.