Saturday, September 20, 2014
A Matter of When by Eden Winters
Author: Eden Winters
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Reece Dante
Length: 236 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print
Wealth. Fame. Gold record. Hookers and Cocaine front man Henri Lafontaine has it all… including a control freak manager, band members who smile as they sharpen blades for his back, and last but damn well not least, a fan out to steal his heart. Literally. Trying to write hit songs and plan a comeback in the midst of the hi-fi white noise of LA feels more like watching his world implode, until he’s offered a month in the Colorado Rockies for vocal coaching.
Sebastian Unger’s rich, classically trained tenor inspires wicked thoughts. More than a pretty choir boy, he cracks the whip without hesitation to drive tattooed bad-boy Henri to give his all to his music. Working, fighting, and finally establishing a fragile peace, they find inspiration and perhaps more in each other. But the clock is ticking. Time will pull Henri back to the grit and gold of LA’s mean streets and fame machine, while Sebastian must return to the opera circuit, where a mysterious man known as “the patron” holds far too much sway. Only the trust they've built on a handful of notes bridges their two worlds... and shields them from malice.
Rock and opera aren’t musical forms that obviously go together in anyone’s hands but Eden Winters. Henri and Sebastian have a lot of the same obstacles to overcome, in their own separate ways. Not only that, but Seb can teach Henri how to sustain a note longer than 3 seconds without passing out.
This story is certainly a romance, but as important as the relationship is, so is the theme of independence. These two guys have to find their backbones and get out of abusive relationships, both professional and personal. We’re in Henri’s POV for the entire book, which is actually kind of a relief, because Seb has the more gruesome situation, and the author lets us fill in a lot of our own blanks. What I can imagine from the few bald statements is quite awful enough. Henri wants desperately to help Seb along, and Seb’s got to find his own strength before he feels worthy of Henri’s attentions. Henri has his own battles to fight, but he needs Seb’s support on some important healing. What these guys accomplish on their own is as important as what they accomplish together, but neither one could accomplish as much without the other.
Of course, there’s serious heat between these two guys, more than enough to bridge the gulf between their backgrounds and styles.
In trademark style, Eden Winters has swirling issues in the background, well drawn secondary characters (I wanna hear Tessa play the bowls, or the Chinese takeout, or both!) and a sense of place that leaps off the page. Part of this story is set local for me, and I giggled with recognition when Seb drives Henri down what could only be that steep section of I-70 between Genesee and Golden. The heat of the stage lights and the breathless anticipation of the audiences are sharp and clear. Both the adoration and the menace from the singers' audiences come through in terrifying ways.
I suppose no rock star book would be complete without the MC’s singing to each other on stage, but here it’s not the revelation of feelings, it’s more the demonstration of what they can accomplish artistically together. Other sections of Henri’s music appear, apparently Eden Winters has a secret career in rock and roll, because those grim lyrics demand a driving bass line and a gravel voice to pound them out.
If there’s any quibble, it’s that the music industry seems to be working on the model of 20 years ago when iTunes didn’t sell single tracks, but who cares, because both Henri and Sebastian have to remake themselves, for themselves, and to be together. That togetherness gives the lie to opera is stuffy, because Seb and his golden voice blend so wonderfully with Henri and his rock lyrics, and because the two of them are so perfect for each other. 5 marbles