John Fletcher lost his partner of 22 years to a car accident. John was driving, and the guilt consumes him. They were musicians, and without David, John stopped playing and went into a long and dark depression. When his mother became ill, John moved in with her and cared for her until she passed away. Now, he lives a solitary life as a substitute teacher…only he’s not really living, just existing. John’s elderly neighbor, Maggie, has been nursing a broken leg, so he’s been driving her on errands. One evening, he’s driving her to choir practice, and she asks him to come in and perhaps join in. He doesn’t really want to, but he sets eyes on the director, and starts to think otherwise.
Rhys Callington, nineteen years younger than John, also lost his partner tragically. They were tripping on magic mushrooms, and he convinced Lyle to go up to the roof to look at the moon and stars. Lyle fell off that roof and died. Rhys has blamed himself and now only plays music for the elderly residents of the nursing home where his grandmother lives, and for the children he gives music lessons to. As soon as he sees John, he feels an attraction and encourages John to stay and sing.
Slowly, the men begin meeting to play music together. Rhys convinces John to play piano with him on his visits to the nursing home, and John even begins to play his violin again. He’d not been able to pick it up since David died. Their romantic and sexual relationship comes naturally to them after they have an emotional talk about David and Lyle. Tears lead to kisses, and kisses lead to one of the sexiest “first times” I’ve ever read. Things don’t come easily for them though, and the road to happiness is rough.
I have to say this book really got to me. It touched my heart deeply. I’m not sure why it resonated with me, but I’m so glad it did. First of all, I’m a huge fan of May/December romance. There’s something about an older man realizing he’s attracted to a younger man and coming to terms with it that makes me happy. In this story, it happens rather quickly, but it’s only because it’s not a very long book. It gives the impression their fall is slow. I never felt overwhelmed, and it certainly didn’t seem like instalove.
Jay Northcote has written two beautifully flawed characters who fit together so perfectly. They’re sweet. They’re sexy, and they’re achingly real. I could feel their emotions coming right out of my Kindle. I could hear their voices, accents and all, in my ears. I wanted them to be together so desperately. It was actually a physical feeling. This doesn’t happen to me very often when I read. Also included in the story are some great background characters. I enjoyed reading about Maggie and Rhys’ mother and brother. Even the dogs, Starry and Billy, played an important role in John and Rhys’ relationship. Also, even though they’d died, Lyle and David were a constant presence, especially David. John dreamed of him often, and it seemed David was encouraging John to move on.
As always, I have to talk a bit about the sex. If you’ve read my other reviews, you may think I’m a sex hound, but I can’t help myself. While hot sex isn’t necessary for me to enjoy a book, it goes a long way. John and Rhys have incredible sex! I mentioned their first time. It was awkward, and that made it intense but charming. They talked and laughed and stumbled, and it was perfect…like a real life couple. Rhys is a dirty talker, and that is a big turn on for me. It was for John too 🙂
Finally, I will give a brief mention of the angst. There is quite a bit. I’m not a big fan of it, to tell you the truth. In fact, it’s my one knock on the story. I cried a lot. Yes, it was worth it in the long run, and it made John and Rhys stronger, but I woke my husband with my sobs. This should definitely NOT detract you from reading Imperfect Harmony, though. Even if you’re like me, you’ll still find this experience to be rewarding. I can’t recommend this one enough.