Shira Anthony
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Dreamspinners Press
Release Date
November 2013
Book 5 of Blue Notes
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

Cool kid violinist Roger Nelson doesn't give a damn about anything. Wannabe conductor John Fuchs is awkward, effeminate, and just figuring out he's gay. Despite their differences, they become friends—then lovers—and after college, they try to make it work. But it's the 1970s, and Roger can't bring himself to admit he's gay. Worse, after his brother is killed in Vietnam, Roger tries to live up to his memory and be the perfect son. Then after suffering one tragedy too many, he makes the biggest mistake of his life: Roger pushes John away.

Through the years, they dance around the truth and in and out of each other's lives, never quite able to let go. Twenty years later, Roger still carries the pain of losing his dream of a brilliant career with him, while John is a superstar conductor with a wild reputation. John's off-stage antics get him plenty of attention, good and bad, though deep down, he wants only Roger. Finally determined to hold on to what really matters, Roger asks John for another chance, and when John panics and runs, Roger has to convince him to listen to his heart.

Book Review by Susan Mac Nicol (author)
Dec 02, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
218 people found the following review helpful
This is a real coming of age story, filled with angst, drama and two men's journey to finally find each other once and for all.

John Fuchs is awkward, stammers, is effeminate and just beginning to come to terms with the fact he's gay. His greatest dream is to become a conductor of beautiful music. In music school, he meets Roger Nelson, violinist. He's tough, proud of who he is and devil may care. The two young men come together as friends and slowly things heat up as they realize that there is a real attraction to each other.

They take a journey together that is fraught with drama, passion, tragedy and world events that catapult them both into the reality of the world they live in. The 1970's is not a good time to be gay. John's accepted it but Roger's finding it difficult coming to terms with the feelings he has for his best friend.
This story takes the reader on a very long journey through both of their lives, through trauma and heartbreak, through desertion and coming to terms with heartbreak. John and Roger were meant to be together but it's a struggle to constantly meet the needs of each other and when Roger makes a decision that breaks John's heart, it's an uphill battle to find out what their hearts are telling them.

Beautifully written with well-drawn, deeply detailed and truly believable characters who you will grow to love, this tale is told with humour, love and passion. I confess I found the pair, especially Roger, quite exasperating with the constant need to hurt each other, to turn away and run from one another. I found myself snorting in exasperation, saying "For God's sake, you two, get a grip, this has gone on long enough," and scowling fiercely when they made the wrong decisions.

I loved the descriptions of the music world, of the prestige and ceremony of the industry, of the constant music wound through the story making you feel you were living in their lives with the John and Roger. And when finally the self-realization of their love dawns for them both, you want to jump up, punch the air and yell, "Finally, you miserable pair, get your bloody act together and stay together now!"

So with the eventual HEA and the love these two have for each other despite their traumatic past, this is a truly great read and heartily recommended.
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Book Review by Pat Henshaw (author,reviewer)
Dec 04, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
207 people found the following review helpful
Where are more than 5 stars when you need them? Former opera singer Shira Anthony has outdone herself in this fifth Blue Notes novel.

This time the story arches to the ends of love--from young love to middle age romance, from living the expectations of family to becoming your own person.

ENCORE takes readers through the first thirty-some years of two musicians' lives, starting when they were young in school together until they were established in their careers. As each decade comes and goes, so Ms Anthony references the larger world of gays including AIDS and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and other notable, often horrific milestones.

The story revolves around gifted violin player Roger Nelson and equally amazing pianist John Fuchs, whose career passion is conducting. Roger is brash, confident and conflicted while John is quiet, dedicated and musically inspired. When they get together in high school, theirs is a closeted affair with Roger afraid his homophobic parents will discover his love for John.

Roger becomes even more fearful when his brother is killed in the Vietnam War, making Roger the only child, and more importantly, the only boy in the family. When he and John attend the University of Michigan and room together, Roger's mother is more than suspicious about their friendship.

Through tragedies and the vicissitudes of life, Roger and John dance around each other, never quite losing touch, always in love, but rarely together. Getting them to the stage of happily ever after is an emotionally charged journey.

John is delightful and easy to like. When Ms Anthony describes his piano playing, I wanted to be there to hear him and then talk to him after the concert. As his ability as a conductor grew, I longed to hear his orchestras and join in the discussion about music and its impact on audiences.

Roger, on the other hand, is a more difficult character to like since he spends most of the book trying to hide his true self. Fortunately, he's complex enough to be fascinating, and watching him grow and change is riveting.

This is one of those books that starts slowly and carefully and builds to a crescendo. Ms Anthony has created an operatic love story for two intriguing musicians that will live on, like all good music does, long after the last note has been played.
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