Eight months ago after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, Jude Lucen returned to Philadelphia, leaving behind his life in Boston, including his boyfriend and his job as a concert pianist. Now Jude is living in his brother Christopher’s old apartment and feels like he is going nowhere. Music is all he has ever wanted to do, but he doesn’t see how he is ever getting his job back. Depression is still holding Jude tight in its grasp and he is having trouble finding the energy and motivation to figure out his next steps.
The only thing that is really capturing Jude’s attention is Faron Locklear, an artist and a tattooist at Small Change. Faron has been on Jude’s mind since they first met, and when they connect again, it turns out that Faron has been thinking of Jude as well. The two begin spending time together, and Jude finds Faron’s calm, easy way about him helps soothe much of Jude’s anxiety. Faron is so accepting of Jude’s depression and the issues that surround it; he never judges or berates Jude for the things he can’t handle like his ex-boyfriend did. Faron and Jude are falling hard for one another, but Jude misses his music and feels incomplete without being able to play. When an opportunity comes to return to Boston, Jude risks losing Faron to recapture music. Now he must have the strength to make some chances and believe in Faron’s feelings for him, and maybe he can have both his music and his love.
Invitation to the Blues is the second book in Roan Parrish’s fabulous Small Change series, focusing on the staff at the Small Change tattoo shop. This series also takes place within the world Parrish created in her Middle of Somewhere series and connects most directly to In the Middle of Somewhere, my favorite book of that series and I book I totally adore in general. I’ll say that you could read this one as a stand alone as Jude and Faron are new MCs. However, both men are introduced in Small Change and Ginger and Christopher appear here, so I think this experience will be richer having read that first book. Also (and be still my heart), Daniel and Rex make an appearance here, so if you have read In the Middle of Somewhere you might particularly enjoy this one, but it isn’t necessary. (But read it. Seriously. It is amazing.)
Ok, so one of the things I can always count on in a Roan Parrish book is incredible character development and this book is no exception. We are in Jude’s POV and it is a rough place. He has had depression all of his life and is eight months out of a suicide attempt. We see him through highs and lows here and Parrish does an amazing job of helping us really get into his head and understand his demons. At times it isn’t easy to read and poor Jude just takes so much of the burden for everything upon himself. But seeing him connect with Faron and the relationship they build is so rewarding. It isn’t always perfect and it is definitely not a straight line forward for him. But I could really feel how the way these two men work together was able to help Jude make progress. Faron is just so easy and lovely. He is charming and sweet, and just lets things be when Jude needs time and space. I also liked that we see a small conflict for Faron toward the end where he needs Jude’s support. I loved seeing Jude realize that he had the strength to be there for Faron, and how much it meant to him to be able to help the man he loves.
Sometimes I think Roan Parrish must always be the smartest person in the room because she seems to know so much about everything she writes about in her stories. Now, maybe she is just an amazing researcher, but I am always just blown away by how much detail Parrish is able to incorporate in a way that really brings her books and characters to life without ever feeling like an info dump. In this case, there is so much depth about classical music and Jude’s life as a professional pianist. I also felt like she conveys so much about what it is like to have depression. The story never feels heavy handed; Parrish just has a way of weaving in information that makes her books come to life and the characters feel so real.
So I really loved this one and continue to enjoy this series, and particularly this world she has created. I am really eager to continue on and definitely can recommend Invitation to the Blues to you all.