Title: Imperfect Harmony
Author: Jay Northcote
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance Standalone
Published: April 15, 2016 Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh
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.
"Imperfect Harmony is a delightful story about grieving, healing, and second chances. HIGHLY RECOMMEND." -Gay Book Reviews
"I loved Imperfect Harmony, from the first page, to the ever so sweet last page of the epilogue. I believe in second chances." -My Fiction Nook
"A touching tale about second chances and being brave enough to embrace them. And through it all flows a love of music and songs so vivid it made my heart sing." -The Way She Reads
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.
4.5 out of 5 stars
So the beautiful cover of Imperfect Harmony, created by the fabulous Garrett Leigh, hooked me to start. I mean seriously that solitary thoughtful looking guy with the shock of blue hair all the way down to the ravens winging their way across his abdomen really caught my eye.
Imperfect Harmony is the story of two men who are lost within themselves after tragedy has impacted both their lives. John has lived through the death of his long term partner and then his mom just a short time later. And really John is going through the motions of his day to day life since his partner died. He's given up teaching music, hasn't touched his fiddle or piano since it happened, and has mostly isolated himself from all his old friends. The only thing that really has gotten him out of the house is his time working as a supply (substitute) teacher and helping his next door neighbor since she had hip surgery. One night changes things for John, he decides to take Maggie into choir practice and hears someone singing.
Rhys, the choir director is singing while he waits, without a care in the world it seems he's letting his voice play with the song. John is entranced by the voice, and then he sees this pretty young man with blue hair staring at him and he becomes self conscious as much as he's stunned. Rhys also has that moment of instant attraction and eventually talks John into staying for choir practice. Rhys is also struggling through his day to day life after losing his partner, maybe not as bad as John struggles. He's withdrawn from his previous life, he's not writing music or playing his guitar since Lyle died, and outside of choir practice and entertaining at his grandmother's retirement community he doesn't go out.
At first glance you wouldn't think that John and Rhys would have anything in common, let alone enough to enjoy each other's company and eventually date. Unfortunately John's self doubt about his age, and his body work against him letting things with Rhys work out. John retreats into pushing Rhys away anytime he thinks he's not enough for Rhys. While Rhys worries that his thin, lanky body isn't what John wants. Now that doesn't make this an angst driven story really. There is a bit of angst but it's the discovery that both John and Rhys can be happy again, can live their lives, and be with others after losing their first loves that is the driving force in Imperfect Harmony.
Watching (reading) John and Rhys fall for each other, when they're not doubting themselves, is really lovely because together they're sexy but still sweet with each other. I really liked John and Rhys together and once they were able to figure out that they meant more to each other than their self doubt they were pretty damn perfect together.
I thoroughly enjoyed Imperfect Harmony and highly suggest picking this book up. It's going to quickly become a favorite comfort read that will give you all the right emotions and make you grin by the ending.
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.