Category Archives: Shira Anthony

Blue Notes Series by Shira Anthony *Series Review, Q&A and Giveaway*

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Blue Notes Series
by Shira Anthony

An M/M Contemporary Romance Series
From Dreamspinner Press

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All books in the Blue Notes series can be read in any order. Each is a stand-alone story from the same classical music universe. Want to see the cool series trailer? You can find it here!

 

Chronological order:

1) Encore
2) Prelude
3) Blue Notes
4) Aria
5) The Melody Thief
6) Symphony in Blue
7) Dissonance

 

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Author Q&A

 

Tell us about your first book in the series. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?

The first book in the Blue Notes Series is Blue Notes, the story of Jason, an attorney who runs to Paris when his perfect life starts to crumble around him. There, Jason meets Jules, a struggling jazz musician, and for the first time in his life faces the fact that he’s bisexual. The story revolves around Jason’s search for happiness and his growing love for Jules. Blue Notes is probably the most overtly romantic book of the series, not only because it’s set in Paris, but because of the “finding-yourself-through-finding-love” theme.

After I wrote Blue Notes, I realized that the appeal for me and many readers was not only the musical element, but also the “realism” in the story. I don’t mean that to say that there wasn’t some fantasy in the book, because most romances have a fantasy element, but I realized I enjoyed writing real, human reactions to events—insecurities, poor communication, cultural differences and how Jules and Jason dealt with them. So when I began the next book in the series, The Melody Thief, I focused less on the external angst you might find in romance novels, and more on the internal. The books became even more heavily character driven. There is plot, of course, but it’s secondary to the growth of the characters that happens as a result of their falling in love.

Dissonance expands on the concept of internal angst and injects an external situation. There is far more plot in this story than in the original series book, including a few thriller-style scenes that take place in the New York City subway, and even a money-laundering scheme that threatens to land one of the main characters in jail. It still has the character growth and music focus readers of the series have come to expect, but there’s a lot more action and excitement.

How hard has it been for you, research-wise, to bring this series to life?

This series is based mostly on my personal experiences as a professional musician, so most of the research has been limited to double-checking my memory of places (some of the books are set in Europe). There are HUGE advantages to writing what you know! That said, Dissonance involved the most research of the series, since the plot revolves around a money-laundering scheme. I’m not a financial person, so I had to do quite a bit of research into how money-laundering works and how the authorities discover it. I relied on fellow writers with more experience in that area, and I read up about it. I learned a lot!

Did you always plan to write Cam’s story?

I knew at the end of Aria that I had to write his story. He wasn’t exactly the nicest guy in that book, but at the end he began to redeem himself. That act of redemption made me wonder why he acted the way he did. Why did he cheat on Aiden, when he truly loved him? Why did he seem so at a loss to understand what a committed relationship was about? And as I wrote that book, I began to see that, underneath it all, Cam had a good heart. By the time I finished Aria, I knew Cam’s story, and I wanted to tell it.

How would you describe this series to someone who has not read any of the books but is intrigued by the concept?

The Blue Notes Series books are contemporary, character driven, standalone novels that involve music and musicians (jazz, classical, and even rock). But you don’t have to be a musician to understand the stories or the music in them. The secondary characters in one story may get their own story later on, and you may get to revisit characters you already know. I always tell people interested in reading the series to jump by picking a book by choosing a blurb that appeals to them. They don’t need to be read in order!

What are your current projects?

I’m working on the third/last book in my Mermen of Ea Series, a high fantasy series about merfolk shifters and pirates. I’m also working on the second book in the Blood Series, a series about vampires that takes place in the present and in the late 1800s in France. The first book in that series, Blood and Rain, will be published in December, 2014 or January, 2015. Both series are with Dreamspinner Press. I’ve also got two contemporary stories in the works, as well as a pile of ideas my muse is just itching to write (Down, girl!).

 

Dissonance (Blue Notes, #6)

Dissonance (Blue Notes, #6)5 stars **NEW RELEASE**

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.

***

Cameron Sherrington wins first prize as the character I most hated to love. I tell you, that man got on my every nerve! But somehow I couldn’t put his story down.

I found myself riveted in the story. Knowing that Cam had issues in desperate need of attention and no clue as to how go about it, let alone the reason’s behind them, my only option was to accompany him every step of his journey. I knew, KNEW, the ride was going to be so very worth it.

And it so was! As Shira Anthony leads us into Cam’s world, giving us insight into his thoughts and inner struggles, we finally see what Aidan must have seen in Cam all those years ago–a man starving for love and acceptance but reluctant to make his needs known.

Then there was Galen–such a mysterious and endearing character. I was intrigued by his story and starved for every little tid bit Shira threw at me. I loved the change he made in Cam’s life. I admired the fact that he was attentive without hovering over Cam and caring without judging his actions. His loyalty to Cam came to the surface with their every interaction, even in the moments when Cam didn’t deserve it.

Cam and Galen’s romance was slow in coming but solid connection wise. They shared more than physical attraction and I think that was what ultimately made this such an enjoyable story for me. From strangers to friends and then from friends to lovers, their journey was packed full of emotions, honest interactions and tender moments. I liked that their physical attraction was always a present entity, but I loved that it was their emotional connection that made them stronger.

All in all, a touching emotional story about acceptance, loyalty and love.

*I received this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Excerpt–Dissonance

Cam climbed the stairs of the Spring Street station. The wind had picked up, causing one of his curls to tumble onto his forehead. He sighed as he pushed the hair from his eyes and cursed his mother for her genes. They were too much alike, and not just in appearance. They were both wanderers. Always seeking excitement. Prone to infidelity. But whereas she seemed to revel in her freedom, he’d always sought partners. Not that he’d had any success in keeping them.

He thought of the trumpet player in the subway station. For a moment he’d felt something. He played well. Surprisingly well, really. Had it been more than that? Something beyond the music?

Of course it was more than that. He was attractive. Cam laughed and shook his head to himself. What did it matter? There were plenty of men in New York, and the last thing he needed was a downtrodden fuck.

 

Series Review

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Blue Notes (Blue Notes, #1)4.5 stars

Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancee, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. Then he finds his future wife in bed with another man, and he’s forced to rethink his life and his choices. On a moment’s notice, he runs away to Paris, hoping to make peace with his life.

But Jason’s leave of absence becomes a true journey of the heart when he meets Jules, a struggling jazz violinist with his own cross to bear. In the City of Love, it doesn’t take them long to fall into bed, but as they’re both about to learn, they can’t run from the past. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face the music.

***

Not much to say about this that hasn’t been said before. I loved it!

From the characters, the setting and the music references – I loved it from start to finish. The writing was very good. I enjoyed how the characters developed throughout the story and how the author managed to give insight into both characters to make me want to cheer them on. Jason was a great characters to get to know, but it was Jules who won my heart. He wore his heart on his sleeve and I just wanted to take him home with me. He was strong yet
vulnerable, lovable and sexy. I so enjoyed how he seduced Jason and I admired his loyalty to his friends, brother and his music.

What made this an even more enjoyable read were the music
references. I especially enjoyed how Shira Anthony made Paris and the music come alive throughout the story without making me feel overwhelmed.

I liked the romance aspect of the story. It felt believable and not too ‘out-there’. The secondary characters were a great addition too. I
especially enjoyed Jason’s sister and something about Sam intrigued me.

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The Melody Thief (Blue Notes, #2)5 stars

Cary Redding is a walking contradiction. On the surface he’s a renowned cellist, sought after by conductors the world over. Underneath, he’s a troubled man flirting with addictions to alcohol and anonymous sex. The reason for the discord? Cary knows he’s a liar, a cheat. He’s the melody thief.

Cary manages his double life just fine until he gets mugged on a deserted Milan street. Things look grim until handsome lawyer Antonio Bianchi steps in and saves his life. When Antonio offers something foreign to Cary—romance—Cary doesn’t know what to do. But then things get even more complicated. For one thing, Antonio has a six-year-old son. For another, Cary has to confess about his alter ego and hope Antonio forgives him.

Just when Cary thinks he’s figured it all out, past and present collide and he is forced to choose between the family he wanted as a boy and the one he has come to love as a man.

***

Awesome!!! I loved everything Shira Anthony brought to the story–the characters, the language, the music and the conflict. Every concept exceptionally written and enjoyable.

I loved Cary. He was so conflicted and in need of love that my heart went out to him immediately. I wanted to shake him, smack him
upside the head and hug him all at once. And Antonio? Well, er, I just wanted to take him and his son home with me. I know, I know! He’s gay! But he was adorable and honest and tortured in his own right. Add to that the sexual vibe he exuded and my imagining how he would sound speaking Italian, moaning and saying “cara” that I was melting and deluding myself.

I enjoyed how these two got together and how they developed throughout the story. Both of them had doubts and both of them had to fight their demons to be together. But they did and it was
beautiful!

Once again I enjoyed how Shira Anthony brought together the
music, the romance and the setting to tell the story of Antonio and Cary. I loved it. This is my favorite book of the series so far and I have the highlighted text to prove just how much I enjoyed this. There might even be a Facebook post or two.

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Aria (Blue Notes, #3)4 stars

Five years after a prestigious scholarship jumpstarted his opera career, Aiden Lind has it all: fame, choice roles, and Lord Cameron Sherrington to share his life with. Maintaining his façade takes effort, but under his poised, sophisticated mask, Aiden is still the insecure kid from rural Mississippi. Then he walks in on Cam with another man, and the illusion of perfection shatters.

Philadelphia attorney Sam Ryan never moved on after his partner died, though he tried. Instead of dating, he keeps himself busy with work—but when he unexpectedly runs into ex-lover Aiden while on a rare vacation in Paris, he’s inspired to give their love a second chance. First, though, he’ll have to get Aiden to forgive him. Because when Sam was still grieving five years ago, he broke Aiden’s heart.

When rekindled lust blossoms into a true romance, it seems like the start of something wonderful. But Aiden’s career has him on the road much of the time, and the physical distance between him and Sam starts translating into an emotional disconnect. If Aiden and Sam can’t learn to communicate, their separation may prove more than their love can bear.

***

Great story of second chances and moving on. I enjoyed it
thoroughly. Aiden and Sam were adorable, tortured souls and their story was a treat to read.

I was intrigued by Sam when he made an appearance on Blue Notes. I knew I wanted to know more about him and that his story would be an interesting one. I am glad to say that I was not disappointed. His story is sad which made my heart go out to him, even if I wanted to smack him upside the head a few times. Adrian was interesting to get to know and his story was just as sad ad Sam’s. I read about him on The Melody Thief, but I was too into that story to really pay
attention.

I liked how these two came together. Their chemistry was very hot, but it was the tender moments that I enjoyed the most. Adrien’s
vulnerability and Sam’s detachment at times were enough to bring me to tears. I think that’s why enjoyed their development so much. It felt real. Like they really made an effort to make it work and in the end I was as happy as they were.

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Prelude (Blue Notes, #4)5 stars

World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

***

Wow! I loved this book! It’s been a couple of days since I read it and I still sigh at the ‘feels’.

One thing I love about a romance is to see the main characters get to know each other. The camaraderie, the banter, the honest
exchanges–it always gets to me. Thankfully, Shira did not disappoint!

Of course, it helped that I found the characters intriguing. Since I had read some of the books before this one, I had a vague idea of who David was. But to read his story and the way it was told was something else altogether. He was complex in the most unexpected of ways which only served to melt my heart and feel for him and his struggles.

That’s not to say that Alex’s story was in any way lacking. I loved reading his story as well, especially how it shaped him into the
person he was. He was funny and charming with a great heart and a deep sense of loyalty. I admired his tenacity, his humble ways and the way he felt so deeply.

So you can understand how thrilled I was to see them connect fully on the page. Their romance was slow in coming, but their time
together always brought a sense of rightness and left me grinning just imagining how great they would be. Their chemistry only added to the appeal because Shira did not pull any punches either in
bringing that aspect of their relationship to the page. Their physical
attraction was always present and palpable, even in the most emotional or funny of scenes.

This is the fourth book in the series, but it can be read as a stand alone. As part of the series, I recommend following the chronological order so you can get a sense of where things are moving. However, I don’t think it’s necessary for your enjoyment or understanding of the story.

All in all, a wonderful addition to the series. An emotional, heart-felt and romantic read overall.

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Symphony in Blue (Blue Notes, #4.5)4 stars

Are you a fan of the Blue Notes series? Would you like to know where the couples from the first four books are now? This is your chance to catch up! Aiden and Sam are finally getting married. But when Cary and Antonio’s baby daughter makes her appearance a bit earlier than planned, the big reception is put on hold. David Somers normally conducts orchestras, but this time he devotes his energy to “conducting” his friends so that everyone can join him at his Milan villa for a reunion at an intimate Thanksgiving dinner.

Sam and Aiden, Jules and Jason, David and Alex, and Cary and Antonio are soon assembled, and each couple shares something they are thankful for. Played out in four movements, this symphony is a celebration of friendship and love, orchestrated by David.

***

As the blurb indicates Symphony in Blue is a “celebration; of how far past couples have reached in their journey. They have not only grown as couples, but as individuals as well.

I enjoyed seeing all the couples again. I got to learn what new struggles they have come across since their story was told, what
milestones they have achieved and how close the friendship between the couples has grown.

In summary:

  • Sam and Aiden finally get their due.
  • Jules helps Jason achieve one of his dreams.
  • Cary and Antonio grow closer as a family.
  • David shows us how far he has come into himself since letting Alex into his life.

All in all, a wonderful addition to the series and one that should not be missed!

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

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Encore (Blue Notes, #5)5 stars

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.

***

This was definitely not the story I was expecting when I picked up the book, but I admit that it blew me away nonetheless.

It’s not an easy feat to tell a couple’s story and maintain the readers’ interest throughout, especially with a timeline as broad as this one. However, Shira made it such that I couldn’t put the book down.

Roger and John were amazing characters to get to know. I loved that I got to see their growth both as individuals and a couple. Shira Anthony guided the reader through Roger and John’s journey from high school students to adulthood without wavering in her delivery. She continued to develop the characters while still bringing forth their connection and telling their story through the years. I appreciated having the chance to experience how they evolved from friends to lovers, the ups and downs of their relationship through the passage of time and ultimately how their love had evolved and matured with the years.

Roger and John’s truly was a love story. I loved it!

 

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About the Author

In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “i Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | DSP

 

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Aria (Blue Notes #3) by Shira Anthony

Aria (Blue Notes, #3)Rating: 4 stars

Published: December 24th, 2012

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Synopsis: Five years after a prestigious scholarship jumpstarted his opera career, Aiden Lind has it all: fame, choice roles, and Lord Cameron Sherrington to share his life with. Maintaining his façade takes effort, but under his poised, sophisticated mask, Aiden is still the insecure kid from rural Mississippi. Then he walks in on Cam with another man, and the illusion of perfection shatters.

Philadelphia attorney Sam Ryan never moved on after his partner died, though he tried. Instead of dating, he keeps himself busy with work—but when he unexpectedly runs into ex-lover Aiden while on a rare vacation in Paris, he’s inspired to give their love a second chance. First, though, he’ll have to get Aiden to forgive him. Because when Sam was still grieving five years ago, he broke Aiden’s heart.

When rekindled lust blossoms into a true romance, it seems like the start of something wonderful. But Aiden’s career has him on the road much of the time, and the physical distance between him and Sam starts translating into an emotional disconnect. If Aiden and Sam can’t learn to communicate, their separation may prove more than their love can bear.

Note: The Blue Notes Series can be read in any order. Each is a stand-alone story from the same classical music universe.

Review: Great story of second chances and moving on. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Aiden and Sam were adorable, tortured souls and their story was a treat to read.

I was intrigued by Sam when he made an appearance on Blue Notes. I knew I wanted to know more about him and that his story would be an interesting one. I am glad to say that I was not disappointed. His story is sad which made my heart go out to him, even if I wanted to smack him upside the head a few times. Adrian was interesting to get to know and his story was just as sad ad Sam’s. I read about him on The Melody Thief, but I was too into that story to really pay attention.

I liked how these two came together. Their chemistry was very hot, but it was the tender moments that I enjoyed the most. Adrien’s vulnerability and Sam’s detachment at times were enough to bring me to tears. I think that’s why enjoyed their development so much. It felt real. Like they really made an effort to make it work and in the end I was as happy as they were.

I’ve really enjoyed the books in the series. I wonder if there’ll be more to come. 🙂

The Melody Thief (Blue Notes #2) by Shira Anthony

The Melody Thief (Blue Notes, #2)Rating: 5 stars

Published: August 24th, 2012

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Synopsis: Cary Redding is a walking contradiction. On the surface he’s a renowned cellist, sought after by conductors the world over. Underneath, he’s a troubled man flirting with addictions to alcohol and anonymous sex. The reason for the discord? Cary knows he’s a liar, a cheat. He’s the melody thief.

Cary manages his double life just fine until he gets mugged on a deserted Milan street. Things look grim until handsome lawyer Antonio Bianchi steps in and saves his life. When Antonio offers something foreign to Cary—romance—Cary doesn’t know what to do. But then things get even more complicated. For one thing, Antonio has a six-year-old son. For another, Cary has to confess about his alter ego and hope Antonio forgives him.

Just when Cary thinks he’s figured it all out, past and present collide and he is forced to choose between the family he wanted as a boy and the one he has come to love as a man.

Note: The Blue Notes Series can be read in any order. Each is a stand-alone story from the same classical music universe.

Review: Awesome!!! I loved everything Shira Anthony brought to the story – the characters, the language, the music and the conflict. Every concept exceptionally written and enjoyable.

I loved Cary. He was so conflicted and in need of love that my heart went out to him immediately. I wanted to shake him, smack him upside the head and hug him all at once. And Antonio? Well, er, I just wanted to take him and his son home with me. I know, I know! He’s gay! But he was adorable and honest and tortured in his own right. Add to that the sexual vibe he exuded and my imagining how he would sound speaking Italian, moaning and saying “cara”  that I was melting and deluding myself.

I enjoyed how these two got together and how they developed throughout the story. Both of them had doubts and both of them had to fight their demons to be together. But they did and it was beautiful!

Once again I enjoyed how Shira Anthony brought together the music, the romance and the setting to tell the story of Antonio and Cary. I loved it. This is my favorite book of the series so far and I have the highlighted text to prove just how much I enjoyed this. There might even be a Facebook post or two.

Blue Notes (Blue Notes #1) by Shira Anthony

Blue Notes (Blue Notes, #1)Rating: 4.5 stars

Published: December 30th, 2011

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Synopsis: Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancée, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. Then he finds his future wife in bed with another man, and he’s forced to rethink his life and his choices. On a moment’s notice, he runs away to Paris, hoping to make peace with his life.

But Jason’s leave of absence becomes a true journey of the heart when he meets Jules, a struggling jazz violinist with his own cross to bear. In the City of Love, it doesn’t take them long to fall into bed, but as they’re both about to learn, they can’t run from the past. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face the music.

Review: Not much to say about this that hasn’t been said before. I loved it!

From the characters, the setting and the music references – I loved it from start to finish. The writing was very good. I enjoyed how the characters developed throughout the story and how the author managed to give insight into both characters to make me want to cheer them on. Jason was a great characters to get to know, but it was Jules who won my heart. He wore his heart on his sleeve and I just wanted to take him home with me. He was strong yet vulnerable, lovable and sexy. I so enjoyed how he seduced Jason and I admired his loyalty to his friends, brother and his music.

What made this an even more enjoyable read were the music references.  I especially enjoyed how Shira Anthony made Paris and the music come alive throughout the story without making me feel overwhelmed.

I liked the romance aspect of the story. It felt believable and not too ‘out-there’. The secondary characters were a great addition too. I especially enjoyed Jason’s sister and something about Sam intrigued me.

I enjoyed this book very much, so much so that I read the whole series during the weekend.