A MelanieM Review: Fever Pitch (Love Lessons #2) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Sometimes you have to play love by ear.

Fever Pitch coverAaron Seavers is in a world of pain and he doesn’t know what to do about it.  His strict controlling father wants him to pick out a suitable college and do it  now.  But Aaron doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life even if his father had decided for him.  His divorced mother won’t support him against his father so Aaron knows he’s on his own and that’s a very lonely place.  But no one would guess all that lurks just underneath the exterior of a boy considered one of the popular crowd and its just the tip of the secrets Aaron is hiding.

Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota.  Giles has been through the horrors that middle and high school hold for someone who is different, gay and very different.  Bullied, beaten, hospitalized, its all been a large part of Giles’ life, made bearable by the love and support of his parents and family.  Now the chance to escape and reboot his life at college looms large.  Giles is headed off to St. Timothy’s College where he intends to play his violin, and be everything he wasn’t in high school.  Then he meets a drunken Aaron Seavers hiding in a closet at the party and it changes everything.

Aaron is in the closet in almost every way until Giles helps him out and home during a drunken binge at a party.  When Giles mentions the college he is going to in the fall, something clicks with Aaron, unbeknownst to Giles and his plans.  When Aaron appears on campus,, Giles is afraid that his high school experience is about to repeat itself.  For Aaron, Giles rejection is just one more thing to overcome.  Neither young man is prepared to the adjustments and changes that college has in store for them both.  Giles and Aaron soon realize that sometimes you have to play love by ear in order to find that which you have always wanted.

The title Fever Pitch comes from a quote in the story, advice actually, that if you want something so badly don’t go after it in a fever pitch but slow down, make sure its real, and not just the perception of something you think you want to have.  Excellent advice for the title characters here and life in general.  Fever Pitch, the second in the Love Lessions series, by Heidi Cullinan, presents two young men on the cusp of adulthood.  From starkly different background and families, they represent the best and the worst examples of teenagers dealing with their sexuality and thoughts of the future.  Aaron’s childhood is one of stultifying control and restrictions.  Even Aaron’s parents divorce, didn’t free him from his  father’s oeverbearing, restrictive rules and regulations, especially as his mother lacks the ability to support and parent her son.  Every aspect of Aaron’s life has been directed by his father and until his meeting with Giles, that wasn’t about to change.  Outwardly, Aaron has everything, including being part of the “in” crowd at school, a faction of which has been tormenting Giles.  Inside?  Aaron is a mess. Giles, on the other hand, has the love and support of a family who adores him and that includes his homosexuality which they accept.  But where Giles has it easy at home, school has been one nightmare after another, so much so that he has  ended up in the emergency room at numerous occasions.  Two young men, at odds with their surroundings, uncertain about their futures waiting ahead of them.

Heidi Cullinan is one of those writers who is able to take a teenage character and present them in a realistic and complex fashion.  Both Giles and Aaron feel absolutely believable, up to and including their histories and back stories.  The launching pad of this story is that odd time of panic and anticipation that happens at the end of the high school year, just before you leave for college.  Too many paths branching out before you, so many unanswered questions tossing about in your head as you step forward towards your first experience of independence.  Cullinan remembers this well and her ability to bring such a time of uncertainty and flux to life makes this story and these characters so moving and memorable.

There are so many wounded young men walking through these pages.  And while the damage done to them all carries the same hefty emotional weight, each received their wounds in different manners. Aaron and Giles are so different yet the empathy and pain you feel for them both is balanced and heartfelt.  Aaron especially with his moments of darkness and depression feels scarily authentic.  Giles’s attitude and assumptions also feels right for someone of his age and experience.  Sometimes you forget how hard it is to be 18 and this story is a perfect reminder of how tumultuous it can be and how out to sea they can feel.

One of the important aspects of this story and one that is beautifully portrayed is St. Timothy’s music department, along with the acapella songs that choral groups (that Glee and Perfect Pitch brought to everyone’s attention) sing as well as the school competitions and inequalities present among boy and girl groups. The interdepartmental politics and competition among students is laid out in a way that feels as real as every other element here.  That includes the songs and arrangements mentioned throughout the novel.

There is angst, oh my so much angst, that your heart will bleed a little along with the characters.  Through devastating events and stunning reversals of situations and beliefs, this is a story that creeps into your heart and mind to stay.  Characters from the first story, Kelly and Walter, have huge roles to play here as do the characters of Baz and Elijah (yes, that’s Bad in Baltimore’s Elijah).  But through all the issues, and swirl of emotions and adjustments, it still comes down to the love and romance of Aaron and Giles as they take their first steps towards adulthood and the life they want for themselves and each other.

Fever Pitch words fine as a stand alone or as part of a series.  I missed out on Love Lessons and Frozen Heart and will now rectify that omission.  Like me you don’t have to wait for those stories to pick this one up now.  Its a must read as far as I am concerned.  Heartwarming, deeply moving, and an ending you won’t believe.  Get started today!

Cover artist: I couldn’t find it but as lively and fun as that cover it, it didn’t reflect the story inside.

Sales Links:  Samhain Publishing      All Romance (ARe)     amazon      Fever Pitch

Book Details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.heidicullinan.com/Fever-pitch
seriesLove Lessons #2

Love Lessions Series:

Love Lessons (Love Lessons, #1)
Frozen Heart (Love Lessons, #1.5)
Fever Pitch (Love Lessons, #2)

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