Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Grady Dawson’s future looks bright. He’s at the top of his country music career, has a close-knit group of friends who have become his Nashville family, and has found solid ground in his personal life as he plans his intimate, private wedding with Nico, his stylist turned lover turned love of his life. It seems Grady has finally left his difficult childhood and tumultuous youth behind. That is, until his past shows up on his doorstep, news of his upcoming nuptials is leaked to the media, and his record company starts issuing demands that challenge his integrity as an artist and as a person. The foundation Grady built his new life on begins to crumble and fast. Can he have his future if he’s haunted by his past? Can he continue making music if it means comprising his convictions? Must he make the ultimate choice between a private life with Nico and the public demands of his career?
I came to Blended Notes (Spotlight #3) by Lilah Suzanne without having read the first two stories (Broken Records and Burning Tracks) and I think that was a mistake. Each preceding novel gives you the various stages in the Grady Dawson/Nico Takahashi romance/relationship as well as supplies you with the surrounding cast members and overall series foundation. Coming blind into Blended Notes without all that back history and relationship tapestry means that you as a reader are forever feeling like you are missing pieces of a puzzle or playing catch up in a larger game. And that’s a shame because this is a marvelous story.
When Blended Notes opens Grady and Nico are an engaged couple planning a wedding. The stress of that event is showing on the couple as well as the fact that Grady’s recording label wants him to change the lyrics on a song he wrote especially for himself and Nico, making it hetrosexual in its romantic orientation. If Grady doesn’t buckle under to the demands of the recording studio, his future career is shaky, information he is withholding from his fiance. Both men start to withdraw into past patterns (here is where reading the previous stories would have helped immensely) of behavior rather than communicate what’s really going on between them.
There is so much here. Complicated angst-filled pasts, family drama, present day Nashville pressures for a Country Music Artist to appear “straight”, interpersonal dynamics, pre-marriage stress…honestly the author empties the narrative bag here, addresses them all and comes up shining. Lilah Suzanne makes you care about Grady and Nico, their complicated lives and their forthcoming wedding which seems to be in jeopardy under the strain of all the current pressures. How each man handles it is beautifully drawn out, allowing us to peer into the connection and love that ties them both so closely together.
I love all the wonderful elements in Blended Notes, from the old car that Grady finds and starts to refinish that also allows him to find connections to his relatives and Nico’s father to the backup musicians that come to his aid and revive him emotionally and musically. Suzanne reaches out and brings so much depth to her characters and their situation here that after a while I’ve forgotten that I’ve missed out on two thirds of their story and just let the story flow over me all the way to the dramatic and oh so satisfying end. Yes I loved that ending too!
It also will send me back to pick up the stories I considering how I love this story so I want to see how it all began. So back to Broken Records and Burning Tracks I run! If you are familiar with this series, you will love Blended Notes! If, like me, you are new to Lilah Suzanne’s Spotlight series, start with the first two stories and then find your way here. This is a series you won’t want to miss!
Cover art works well for the story. Like the design very much.
ebook, 275 pages
Published August 17th 2017 by Interlude Press