Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Review - Allegro Vivace © Cat Grant and a Giveaway

Allegro Vivace

Author: Cat Grant

Publisher: Amber Allure

Genre: Contemporary GLBT

Buylink

Sparks fly when brash young violinist Matt Dugan strides into professor Aaron Parrish’s classroom. Aaron’s intrigued by the twenty-year-old virtuoso, and agrees to take him on for private lessons. Things get off to a rocky start that’s complicated by a growing mutual attraction.

But Aaron, still reeling from the loss of his partner two years earlier, resists—until the afternoon Matt seduces him in his office.

Teacher and student embark on a passionate affair. Matt wants to tell everyone, while Aaron fears their twenty-five-year age difference will make them objects of scorn and ridicule. Can Aaron conquer his doubts, or will he lose Matt forever?

...The sidewalks got crowded down here on Friday nights, but it was still early. I took a leisurely stroll, stopping to browse in my favorite bookshop, smiling wistfully at the laughter and appetizing aromas wafting from all the bars and restaurants. Time was, I couldn’t go more than a couple of blocks without running into someone I knew, but tonight no one paid me the slightest attention. Gorgeous men of various sizes, hair colors and ethnicities passed me by—just like the last decade of my life. I might as well have been invisible.

I shoved my hands in my pockets and walked on, weariness starting to creep over me. Up ahead, bright, warm lamplight from Kev’s and my once-favorite watering hole crooked a plaintive finger in my direction. I hesitated a moment before going in.

There were still a couple of tables left near the big picture window overlooking the street, so I grabbed one, waving over a handsome young waiter to give him my drink order. I decided to splurge on a double Glenfiddich, neat. If I was going to toast Kev’s memory, I’d do it in style.

The amber liquid went down smooth as butter, warming me from the inside out. It also served as a hollow-bellied reminder I hadn’t eaten anything since noon. One drink, then I’d head home. Terence was probably getting just as hungry as I was.

A not-so-unpleasant lightheadedness swept over me as I savored the delectable, peaty-tasting single malt. “Here’s to you, Kev,” I murmured. “Rest in peace, love.”

Oddly enough, I didn’t feel like crying. I’d done my share of that over the past two years. The overwhelming sadness that had hung on me like a wet blanket for so long now appeared to have lifted. For how long was anybody’s guess.

I’d no sooner knocked back my last swallow than my glance zeroed in on a familiar face passing by outside. Matt, flanked by two other students I vaguely recalled from the corridors at school, all engaged in animated conversation. I considered making a discreet dash for the back door, but it was too late—Matt’s intense blue gaze had already locked on mine. A cocky grin slid across his lips, just like that day when he’d first strode into my classroom.

He said something to his companions, then turned and marched inside, making a beeline for my table. Shit. Not good. Not good at all.

Allegro Vivace © Cat Grant

Review

Every year like clockwork professor Aaron Parrish’s  has “one” – yes one, one student who thinks the world revolves around him or one who thinks one strum of his instrument and the whole music conservatory will be blown away by his gift.

This season the one is Matt Dugan, cocky, brash and with all the self confidence of someone who knows he is the best or could be the best at what he does. Aaron is a seasoned professor at the local Music Conservatory in the area and is most suitably not impressed as he has been in the business of music and teaching for too many years to be swayed by a new student trying to see how far he can get with platitudes.

Some things cannot be denied and Matt is something special and before long Aaron finds out just how special he is. They however both have baggage and while Aaron has to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new world of a relationship, Matt embraces it and is always looking to make the most of every situation he find himself in.

Within all that they have the music and Aaron intends for Matt to be the best, but Matt wears his heart on his sleeves and it will be a test of his maturity to step up and do the right thing even if he doesn’t want to. 

When I read the blurb on ALLEGRO VIVACE I will admit it did not jump out at me, why - because it had two topics that I am not rushed to read in romance, especially m/m romance, music and a plotline of May/December romance. That said this book is written by an author who has consistently hit all the right buttons with me as a reader and as such I was willing to take a chance on reading this book.

By the time I was ten pages in I knew I was going to love this book, Ms. Grant uses her main protags core personalities to rub against each other and quickly build not only personal tension but a delicious sexual vibes that had me racing through these pages.

What worked for me

I really liked the characters Ms. Grant  introduced me to and not only the main protags. They were suitably placed and brought their own drama and the right amount angst to move the book along.

While the May/December romance is not a plotline that normally works with me – I must say Aaron and Matt were perfect for each other. I got to know Aaron and right from the outset I liked his personality and his down to earth attitude. Matt was a very mature lad, brought up in a lifestyle not known by many - coupled that with a natural gift plus he has a tendency to run away with himself, yet was still a young man prone to mood swings and little bouts of pouting – I ended up liking him alot.

The Classical music backdrop and the Music Conservatory was a good setting for this book – this is a world that I understand and I thought Ms. Grant captured the day to day niggles of a music teacher as well as the mercenary attitude of people who only mean well, pretty well. Along side that she explored some of the in-house politics of student/teacher relationships and the day to day struggle of keeping such an institution going.  

The fact that the author did not cloud the path of these two making a go of a relationship with past lovers or unnecessary angst was a plus in my opinion. There was the age thing of course and they both had some realistic issues on their plate to deal with and I thought those were handled in-time and tied up by the end of the book.

This book took place over a period of quite a few months and the author took the time to slowly build up the smex and even when they were getting their groove on – it was a timely amount and just a few scenes – which is always a good change.

The book flowed and flowed well and as much as I liked the main setting of the conservatory, I was also liking the fact that Ms Grant moved them around a bit, so I got the chance to see Aaron and Matt at their best and their worst with and without the formality of the music school in the background.

I wont lie and say I was happy with the age thing – but I thought they worked through a pretty decent amount of issues in regards to that point and as I said before they complimented each other and this is one of those relationship that will work because of the age difference.

There was talking – I use the word talk rather than dialogue because it was spontaneous, they didn’t sweep anything under the carpet nor did they let anything build up that could lead to any misunderstanding. There was avoidance especially on Aaron’s part on certain issues but it was not from not saying what was on their minds and I really really liked that about these two.

I like the little touch of humour present in this book. It was not ha-ha funny, but more a biting sarcasm that had me smiling a time or two.

What didn’t work for me

Matt had issues with his dad and his entire home life hinges on what is father did in the past. That point I thought was mentioned too often and as much as I  appreciated the fact the man himself made an appearance in the book eventually – I would have liked to have had a chance to get his point of view about some of the thing alluded to in the book.

There is a rather mercenary attitude to some aspect of the music conservatory that may not sit well with some reader, it didn’t with me, That said these things do happen in these sort of institution and over all it is an area that will give readers a better insight into how much sacrifice and/or undercutting takes place to get some of the most gifted through the system.

Some of the plotline was tied up too quickly and that really let the book down at the end for me. A few more pages or a cliff hanger for a future book would have sit a bit better with me than this sense of things being swept under the carpet – too rushed.

Bottom Line

From the moment I opened the first page on this book I started knit picking, while I had some niggles here and there Ms Grant did not let me down. She took a plotline that I am the first one to rubbish and made me see how a relationship between two people who are quarter of a decade apart could/can work.

Aaron brought to the relationship his maturity, his patience, his willingness to not look back and more over his musical ear – because lets be realistic the music brought them together. Matt is so much older than his years, he has travelled, he has been exposed to quite a bit of life’s realities and has known a way of life that would make a younger man seem pretty tame to him.

The authors investment in the working of a conservatory school year could be seen, she delivered the info in layman's terms and she made it quite attractive, but at no time did she trivialize the fact that “getting there” needs hard work and dedication.

Other issues of privacy, disappointment, moving on from a loss are all dealt with in this book. while some were just touched on other were  suitably fleshed out and they made a difference to my overall enjoyment of ALLEGRO VIVACE.

All in all I ended up liking this book alot and am already looking forward to Ms Grant next production.   

Definition

"Allegro" is a very general indication for moderate to fast tempos.

"Vivace" means fast and lively, often with a lighter feeling.

Giveaway

If you'd like to win a copy of Cat Grant’s new m/m novella, Allegro Vivace, send her an email at: bittermint2007@gmail.com by midnight on the 18th of June! 

She will  announce the winner on Saturday, June 19th, the day of the 2010 San Francisco Pride parade on her blog HERE

6 Speak To Me:

Blodeuedd on 15 June 2010 at 21:32 said...

Aww, that is nice how you ended up liking it after all :)

Long long ago, I knew what allegro meant, but those days have passed

Chris on 16 June 2010 at 01:19 said...

Intriguing... thanks for the contest heads up!

Erotic Horizon on 16 June 2010 at 08:14 said...

@Blodeuedd..
These are the kinda books I love - the ones that make me love it..

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 16 June 2010 at 08:15 said...

@Chris..

You're welcome hon..
E:)

Rikki on 16 June 2010 at 21:00 said...

Oh, great. I LOVE May/December stories, even though I hate that name. I prefer age gap by far.... Not going to read your review just yet, the blurb already sold it to me. Thanks for the heads up on the contest. I need to get this.

Erotic Horizon on 20 June 2010 at 14:19 said...

@Rikki

I do thing you will like this one - I also share you disdain for that May/Dec label...

Just like I hate that word cougar -It just makes everything seems so forbidden/smutty...

Happy reading...

E.H>