(nb: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley)
In many ways, love is like music. It can soar with passion and verve, or it can ring dissonant and harsh. In most relationships, we experience both of these, and endless progressions in between.
Thus, music is the perfect backdrop for budding lovers Shawn Davies and Jaymi Del Harmon. Shawn is a survivor, a former hustler whose L.A. music career was going nowhere. She packed up, and worked her way back to her New England home town. She spent many days playing for whatever people would throw in her guitar case; she spent many nights in her car.
When she got back home, her father refused to see her. He had never forgiven her for coming out as a lesbian back in her teens. When everything seemed lost, she heard the band Passion Play on a local radio station. Shawn had been friends with Passion Play’s guitarist and songwriter, Jaymi Del Harmon, and Jaymi agreed to take Shawn in, just till she got her life together.
That period of time kept stretching, as the two women grew closer and closer, till something had to give. At risk? Their burgeoning music careers, close friendship, and blossoming love. The question remained whether the two women’s bond could endure new temptations–as well as ghosts from the past–and make their song a joyous melody, or would the entire relationship crumble like the clash of cymbals.
Author Holly Stratimore does a wonderful job melding music and romance into a parallel narrative. As the characters’ lives ebb and flow, so does their music. They suffer from writer’s block, and their relationship hits snags. It’s deftly handled.
I liked the two protagonists, too. Shawn comes off as tough but vulnerable, while Jaymi seems to have it all together, though there’s a giant hole inside her. They complement one another beautifully.
I also liked the supporting characters, especially Passion Play’s super-brash lead singer, Nikki. Beneath the growl and arrogance, we find an unexpected soft side. It was a nice twist.
Ms. Stratimore throws in enough curveballs so that the story never gets stale, and she brews up plenty of steamy scenes to keep up the sizzle.
“Songs Unfinished” works as a romance. However, there’s plenty more to the story. It’s obvious the author has a deep knowledge of both music and relationships, and she blends them together into a beautiful chord of a novel.