Since his mother passed away from cancer, Chris has been isolated and withdrawn. When his older brother forces him to go out one night, Chris finds himself at a concert where violinist Dante Heron is the highlight.
Chris is drawn to Dante first through his music and then by the man himself. Dante can hold an audience captive with his violin strings, but in private, Dante can be withdrawn and mysterious and emotional. When Dante’s manager sees the effect Chris has on Dante, Chris is offered a job traveling around Europe keeping the famous violinist on schedule.
Chris hasn’t figured out his sexuality yet and from the various women he has to rouse from Dante’s bed, he doesn’t think the attraction he feels for Dante will go both ways. The men bond over their deep loneliness and Chris longs for more. But when Chris breaks a promise to Dante and puts his own needs first, he may have lost his chance at the love of lifetime.
Volatile encompasses the feelings of first love mixed in with the emotional aftermath of losing a parent. Chris’ first person POV gives an up close and personal view of his turmoil. Since the death of their mother, Chris has been living with his brother and his brother’s husband. He has a lot to process and staying home all of the time is about the only thing he can do. Until he meets Dante.
Dante is a famous violinist and he can entrance an entire room with his music. Chris falls under his spell and meeting Dante opens up emotions that he hadn’t had a reason to investigate. But Dante can be withdrawn and moody or as is manager calls him, volatile.
The book is a slow burn where the writing is soft and tender, but the emotions are evocative and complicated and for Chris, they are confusing. He gets sent to Europe, but he’s completely out of his depth for the job he’s been hired for. He’s hired only because after just meeting Dante, his manager sees a connection. When he gets tangled up emotionally, he doesn’t do his job and can’t get out of his own way and he can be seen as petulant, but he’s simply ill equipped for the job he was hired to do.
Dante is a complete mystery for most of the book and he remained too much of a mystery for too long. Even when we finally do learn more about him, it was still too little. He is seen with several women throughout the book and his feelings on his own sexuality are never disclosed. There is more conflict here than relationship. The guys spend some time together, but most of the time they are on their own and we are with Chris and all of his feelings and doubts. There were glimpses of great emotion, but then when they do have the opportunity to spend five days together, all five days are off page. They also comment on how easy it is between them and how little they need to talk about their issues, which puts the reader at a great disadvantage. The author lets us reside in Chris’ head as he lives the details of his day and although much of the narrative was compelling, there were also times that I simply needed more from both the pacing and the relationship.
There were also a couple side stories involving Chris’ brother and his husband and then their father. There were times these stories read as if we should already have known what transpired, so then they were only given a half life. Then, Chris’ roommate was introduced and while he was an enjoyable character I would have preferred more time with Chris and Dante.
Overall, this was an enticing and romantic debut novel. It worked well in some areas while making me long for more in others. This is the beginning of a new series for this author and I will be following along. For a softly written love story filled with many emotions of first love set to the strings of a violin, check out Volatile.
“Because sometimes, someone shakes you up and forces you to remember what life is all about.”