Author: Shira Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: DSP
Type: Standalone from a Series
Received from Author
Blurb: British noble Cameron Sherrington has hit rock bottom. The love of his life, opera sensation Aiden Lind, is marrying another man, and Cam knows it’s his fault for pushing Aiden away. As if that’s not enough, someone is trying to take away his family business, and the US authorities are pursuing him on charges of money laundering. Fearing for his safety and unable to return to London, Cam runs, but he’s too broke to find a place to stay, and his fugitive’s life doesn’t even remotely resemble a Hollywood thriller.
Desperate and betrayed by the people he thought cared about him, Cam takes refuge in the subway station where Galen Rusk plays his trumpet for tips. Though Cam hears the beauty in Galen’s music, it’s Galen’s firm hand on his shoulder that stops him from throwing everything away. Their unusual relationship takes a turn that surprises them both, and neither man is sure he wants the complication. Galen is fighting the ghosts of his past, and Cam has his own nightmares to face. When Cam’s troubles threaten to tear them apart, Cam figures he had it coming—that it’s all penance due for a life lived without honesty or love. But he never considered the possibility that he might not survive it.
Review: Lord Cameron Sherrington first appeared in” Aria”, one of the author’s earlier books in her fabulous Blue Notes series, and he was, shall we say, an extremely unappealing individual. I was rubbing my hands together in anticipation when I heard the author was making Cam a MC in her next book, apparently due to get his full story told – and his own chance for a happily ever after. Redeeming a character who had behaved like such a lout was going to be no easy feat, however, the pen of Shira Anthony proved magical once again. She has really outdone herself with Dissonance.
If you haven’t already guessed, Blue Notes is one of my favorite series. While not necessarily crucial, I definitely recommend reading the books in the order they were released, to best appreciate the appearances different characters make throughout the series.
Early on in the story, it becomes best to bear in mind that all humans are multi- layered, and perhaps one should not rush to judgement. This holds true for Lord Cameron Sherrington. Cam gives every outward appearance of a man who “has it “all”, when in reality, he does not. He has foolishly spent his inheritance, is on a monthly budget, and does not have control of the family company. Oh sure, Cam is a drop dead gorgeous man, but he knows few people he can truly call friend, his mother is dismissive of him, he engages in frequent casual sex and he parties with those who merely like being able to drop his name. And to top it off, he has driven away the only man he’s ever loved. Oh, he does still have a hand in some business dealings, but he’s been in a sort of coasting mode – looking forward to the day his trust fund comes under his control. Add to that an under- current of self- loathing, and he’s not a pretty mix. The fragility of Cam’s true station in life comes crashing down when the FBI centers an investigation on him, and he finds himself quite suddenly without money, a place to stay or a trusted friend in sight.
Enter Galen Rusk. Well, actually the two men had previously crossed paths, thanks to their common love of music. Cam had been drawn to Galen’s talented trumpet performances – and good looks – at a subway station. The brief words and appraising stares they exchanged packed quite an emotional punch, one which Cam dismissed. He had pretty much pegged Galen for a wastrel. When Galen later encounters an obviously “on the run” Cam, he offers him safe haven, as well as the emotional support that he is desperately in need of. Cam is wary at first, but soon relaxes in Galen’s home. There is no pushing from Galen – he lets Cam set the pace for either telling him or not telling him what he is running from. As Cam realizes he is safe with Galen, – and his gentle dog Max – he begins experiencing confusing, highly disturbing nightmares. As the ultimate and devastating reality of these nightmares become evident to Cam, he will be staggered by their meaning.
Galen proves to be a still waters run deep kind of guy, one who in reality, is constantly trying not to drown in his past. It became obvious Galen harbors deep scars of his own, some of which he reveals to Cam as they grow closer, some of which he hides for a long time. I found myself thinking that Galen’s past was hindering the fragile new relationship between himself and Cam. He seemed in some respects to be punishing himself, leading a somewhat confined life consisting of helping others through his teaching of music– and being a good listener and confidante. Galen’s main solace has been his music.
“Breathe, focus, relax.” This was not only Galen’s personal grounding mantra, but mine too as I read and experienced this gut wrenching story. Both men carried so much emotional baggage. The journey during which they become familiar with each other, learn to trust each other, confront their pasts, and eventually become lovers – is told in striking depth. It is a story written with vivid impact and candid care, played out at an unrushed pace.
Cam ultimately finds the strength to confront and battle his demons – or perhaps I should more aptly state, one demon in particular. However, he finds himself doing so on his own. Galen had provided Cam overwhelming support and comfort, but had made it clear from the beginning that he was not emotionally available for more. I felt so bad for Cam at this point and just wanted to shake Galen for being so uncompromising. Galen, through actions stemming from his compassionate nature, also winds up in a fight – for his professional integrity. When the dust settles, which man will be the first to reach out for the other?
I was pleased to see the appearance of David and Alex in this story (their story is told in “Prelude”), and how they end up being very important to Cam. As always with this series, the music as a central theme speaks so deeply to me. I truly understand how enriching, freeing and empowering music can be – I know Cam and Galen agree. ♪♫
The author painted Cam in a very interesting light from the start of this story. While he oozed the poor little rich kid vibe, there was an ever-present vulnerability discernible at his core, which was nurtured gently and beautifully to fruition over the course of the story, by virtue of Galen. I found myself definitely sympathizing with, and ultimately rooting for Cam as the story progressed. I fell utterly in love with Galen. I want to hug them both! ♥
I highly recommend this book and the entire Blue Notes series.
~I love the title of this book – so evocative of the story inside. The cover art by Catt Ford is gorgeous.
~Shira, thanks for including Max – such a loving and intuitive dog – in this story.