I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Fenbrook Academy #2
Published by Foster & Black New Adult on September 21, 2013
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Everyone expects her to succeed….Karen plays the cello like an angel, and it’s the only thing that makes her truly feel alive. But her father’s dream—for her to join a prestigious orchestra—leaves no time in her life for anything but music…not even love. Trapped on her path, she doesn’t know how to rebel.Everyone expects him to fail….Connor plays rock guitar like the devil himself, and his ability has got him all the way from a dead-end life in Belfast to a scholarship at Fenbrook Academy. But beneath his arrogance and charm, he doesn’t believe he has what it takes. He’s spent his time in New York drinking and partying, and the only future he sees is a return to Ireland as soon as he flunks out.But what no one expects….When Karen’s duet partner is injured, the bad boy guitarist and the shy, sheltered cellist are forced to team up. Neither likes the idea, but what begins as anger and distrust slowly spirals into love…and lust. If they can face up to their feelings, they might just have a chance together. If Connor will allow Karen to stop his fall, maybe he can show her a life she never thought possible....
My Initial Reaction…
After already loving Dance For Me, I wasn’t at all surprised that I enjoyed In Harmony just as much. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by how different the story felt. Despite being set in the same place, time, and even including many of the same characters, by simply shifting the point of view Helena Newbury managed to tell a very different kind of story. And I loved it.
Karen is the character I would have voted least likely to star in a steamy romance, and yet she pulls it off beautifully. She’s been working hard her whole life to get into the NY Phil Harmonica, sacrificing normal relationships and childhood experiences to do so. Karen’s the ultimate over-achiever, with an uber successful father’s expectations to live up to. I loved seeing her try to navigate her father’s expectations with her efforts to find her own path. Karen’s also never been in a relationship; her only sexual experience comes from a selection of bodice-rippers hidden under her bed, alongside her dildo. While Karen may be a virgin it’s not for lack of interest, just opportunities. Her inexperience forms a humorous backdrop and allows Newbury to stretch out the sexual teasing to its height.
Just when Karen is reaching the culmination of all her hard work her duet partner for her senior recital is injured and can’t perform with her. If she wants to graduate, Karen has to put her faith in Connor, the electric-guitar playing, class-skipping, notorious bad-boy. Connor is exactly what you’d expect from a bad-boy: he’s ridiculously sexy, talented, cocky and has a notorious reputation with the ladies. And yet there’s more going on below the surface. I enjoyed getting to know the deeper side of Connor and appreciated that, while he came with his own set of issues, Newbury didn’t write him as a totally broken man either. He needs help, but not rescuing.
I was thrilled too see characters I loved in Dance for Me continue to figure prominently within In Harmony, but their struggles are a subplot and you can easily pick up In Harmony without reading Dance for Me. If you have read it though, you’re in for a treat as these excellent characters continue to develop.
In Harmony revolves around Karen and Connor’s struggle to graduate – which means Connor must pass his classes, Karen must deal with some issues of her own, and they both must figure out how to make a cello and an electric guitar work together. Like in Dance for Me, I loved the way music moved the story forward. Newbury is very gifted in the ways she employs music to express emotions, heighten tension, and tell a story of their own. Some of the best moments were when Karen and/or Connor were playing – it became this tangible way to visualize their journeys as individuals and in their relationship.
I loved that In Harmony didn’t duplicate the insta-love that we saw in Dance for Me. Instead we see a relationship that develops slowly, through closely working together over a long period of time. In fact, I think Newbury beautifully complicated the insta-love that had so bothered my in Dance for Me by showing us those relationships in their progression, going through some troubles of their own. Since this story is told exclusively from Karen’s point-of-view, which is pretty observant but also hesitant, it’s a very different perspective that we saw before.
In Harmony has really well-developed characters and intertwines music beautifully to propel the story forward. It’s a fairly simplistic plot, without a lot of mystery, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Once I started, I devoured In Harmony and can’t wait to read more from Helena Newbury.
Connor, his feet up on Professor Harman’s desk, woke up and yawned. He checked his watch. “You’re late,” he told us. “Yes,” said Connor. “But only when she’s been very, very bad.” Buy Links: Giveaway
“We can hear the neighbors fucking?” said Connor.
“Hell no. They can listen to us!”
Connor, his feet up on Professor Harman’s desk, woke up and yawned. He checked his watch. “You’re late,” he told us.
“Yes,” said Connor. “But only when she’s been very, very bad.”