Yanik is a well-trained and educated musician and composer. Blind from childhood, his career in New York was only getting started when his twin brother, Van, called him home to help deal with their elderly father. Their dad, and only surviving parent, was showing signs of dementia and eventually Alzheimer’s. Yanik has been in his small hometown for many years now, nursing his father, who is on hospice. He teaches music at a private Catholic school and has some private students, but it’s a far cry from his planned career. Depression over his life and circumstances has dried up Yanik’s inspiration for composing.
Adam is a trans man in his mid 20s who just moved to Yanik’s small New England town because he’s helping his twin sister care for her young daughter while his brother-in-law is deployed. Adam was happier in California where he was raised and where he developed a support network of fellow bandmates in an indy punk metal band, in which he played guitar. Adam is a piercer at a tattoo shop in the mall and is captivated by the music a mysterious man plays on the grand piano in the space outside of the studio.
Adam and Yanik meet by chance when Adam’s niece demands Elsa songs during Yanik’s impromptu concert. They strike up a friendship, and this leads to more as their immediately electric connection grows. Adam is a welcome companion, especially as Yanik’s father’s health rapidly declines. Yanik feels very much seen and loved by Adam, who is definitely invested in whatever life could hold with Yanik in it. Their growing love sparks Yanik’s creativity, and his new compositions are so different, so much better than he’d written years ago. It is so sweet when Adam finally plays some guitar with Yanik, and their music is complimentary.
Van wants Yanik to apply for a new conservatory-type position, and get back to the music he loved so dearly, once his father passes. It’s Yanik who is scared, however. He desperately wants to leave his hometown and the stifling expectations, yet he fears Adam is setting down roots just as he’s on the precipice of freedom. When a famous composer arrives on Yanik’s doorstep he is yanked into a dreamscape of opportunity. Yet, the idea leaving Adam behind makes it bittersweet. Now Yanik must figure out if there is a way to live his musical dream, while also having a future with Adam.
Staccato is a sweet and intriguing read that celebrates both diversity and the capabilities of people with physical challenges. Yanik’s independence is so vibrantly described on the page, as are his rebukes for folks who underestimate his abilities. Adam has is own personal issues, dealing with his transition and having had poor experiences with men. Yanik’s attraction to him is intoxicating, and worth fighting for, if Yanik would keep communication going. It’s a struggle when Yanik shuts things down, time after time, because of his own reticence to stay put. Both men have had few experiences with strong love, and that’s intimidating for each in their own way. I loved how supportive Adam was, and how he didn’t just let Yanik walk all over him. Both characters are rendered so carefully and with so much texture that it was easy to ride along and experience their highs and lows. Expect a lot of emotion and a bit of steam.
This is the second book in the Magnum Opus series, but reads fine as a standalone. It seems clear that we meet the MCs of the first book toward the end of this one. That was nice, and I felt like I had enough context to gather the gist of their story without having it all recounted. Particularly if you like stories about differently abled people or trans romantic leads, I think this will be a good one to add to your reading list.