Title: Imperfect Harmony
Author Name & Publisher: Jay Northcote (Jaybird Press)
Publication Date & Length: April 15, 2016 – 66,000 Words
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.
This is a moving May-December romance between two men, both wrestling with grief as they attempt to move forward with their lives.
I enjoyed this story, though I found John’s personal journey back to his music more moving than the romantic relationship at times. Rhys was an inspiring character at times, but paired with John, he feels very young and I found it difficult to relate to him as a leading man. I did love his music, his relationship with his choir and his interactions with the older people he plays for.
For me, something didn’t quite click with this story. I usually love Jay Northcote’s writing, but I found some of her usual magic lacking here. Part of the problem was the age difference – it takes fantastic writing for me to fully believe in relationships with large age gaps. Part of the problem was also the number of things left unexplained at the end of the story. I wanted to see John and Rhys work through their problems and begin living fully again, but I don’t feel there was any real closure with this story.
This isn’t my favourite of Jay Northcote’s books but it is a moving story about life, grief and second chances.
This is a book that I would say is about Second Chances. You have two men Rhys who is the choir director and former song writer and singer and you have John who plays many different instruments.
John has given up music as of two years ago when his “husband” in every sense of the word except by law was killed in an auto accident. John and David played and sang together so when he died John could not play or sing anymore. Much less listen to it. That is until Maggie had John drop her off at choir practice one night and John was convinced to stay. That is where he met Rhys.
Rhys also lost his boyfriend tragically so he knows the pain that John is feeling. Rhys quit writing his own music after his boyfriend passed and could not bring himself to write without him or for him.
These two are so different from one another and have things standing in the way of them such as the 19 year age difference but with that being said they could not be more perfect for one another either. I think that when they start seeing each other they start to bring life back to one another and even though John is not comfortable with the age difference I believe that they help each with their grief and guilt they both feel for the loss of their former partners.
I also believe that if Rhys had not been persistent then John would have passed on a good thing between the two of them because of the fears where age is concerned. In th wend I believe that Rhys is the voice of reason that gives both of them hope.
I must start by saying the music that Ms. Northcote used in this story was in perfect harmony. If you do not know the song when either character mentions it, you MUST look it up before proceeding on reading. Each song sets the scene and mood. You will feel it deep in your soul and you will be touched. The flow of the story was smooth.
Rhys and John were imperfect harmonies by themselves but with each other they were a perfect melody and age does not matter. Both had suffered and experienced immense loss in their life making them imperfect according to themselves. Once together, these two souls balanced each other.
I commend Ms. Northcote for not diminishing Rhys and John’s love for their past partners and that they respect each other for it. This story touched home a little and it was quite believable.
I would most definitely recommend this one as it will fill your soul. It was sweet. It was emotional. It was about letting yourself fall in love again after having your first love be stolen.
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.
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.