Welcome to the Backlist Blog Hop! Thanks for stopping by to listen to me ramble about my favorite backlist books: my Blue Notes Series from Dreamspinner Press. Want to win an ebook copy of one of the Blue Notes books or one of my other Dreamspinner Press releases? Just comment on this post and you’ll be entered. I’ll draw a winner after the hop is over. If there are more than 20 entries, I’ll throw in a Blue Notes t-shirt and draw a second winner. Be sure to leave your email address so I can let you know if you’ve won!
Be sure to check out all the other participating blogs by clicking here or on the bloghop photo to the left. -Shira
Forget about moth balls and old 33 RPM records in dusty boxed sets: classical music in the 21st Century is all about sensuality and sexuality. If you’re like me, a kid who grew up with parents that listened to all the old recordings of classical music, that might be a stretch. But things have changed over the past few decades, and classical music has, as well.
When you think of opera, do you think about the fat lady singing with her hands clasped to her overly-ample chest, wearing metal breastplates and horns? Think again. Meet the new face of opera: sexy and sensual. Check out this short excerpt from Bizet’s “The Pearlfishers,” a bromance about two fishermen who both fall for the same priestess: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3xyp54bZqs&feature=related In the end the baritone sacrifices his life so that his best friend and the priestess can escape. (If you ask me, they’d have been better off dumping the girl and just riding off into the sunset together!). And yes, those are abs and sexy man flesh for your viewing pleasure!
So when I began to work on the books that make up the Blue Notes Series of contemporary gay romances, it was this new vision of classical music that was at the back of my mind. Music as seduction, music as emotion. In the original book in the series, Blue Notes, American lawyer Jason Greene runs to Paris to escape his not-so-perfect life and meets French violinist Jules Bardon. The first hint of their passion comes after Jules plays a hauntingly beautiful violin piece that tugs at Jason’s heart:
Jules rested the violin and bow on the case and sat down next to Jason. He hesitated for a moment, watching the older man with uncomfortable intensity, then reached for Jason and brushed a single tear from his cheek. For Jason, the touch was electric, and his physical response unexpected.
“Bach always touches my soul,” Jules half whispered. His fingers still rested against Jason’s cheek. “He must have known great love, and great pain, to write something so powerful.” Jason realized that his own pain must be showing on his face, because Jules, too, looked sad.
“I’ve never been religious,” Jules said, his eyes never leaving Jason’s, “but I played this piece in a tiny church once. It was like God was there with me, speaking through me.”
When Jason remained silent, Jules leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. At a loss to explain the intense emotional and sexual response of his own body and equally unable to stop himself, Jason reached for Jules and returned the kiss. The younger man’s lips tasted of wine and musk, and Jason realized that he was hungry for more.
That same sensual approach to music is at the heart of The Melody Thief, the second book in the series. Cellist Cary Redding is more than just a mess—he’s living a double life. He’s a world-renowned performer, sought after by the best conductors and orchestras, and he’s also a sex-addicted, mess of a human being whose sense of self-worth is about as low as you can get. In this excerpt, the first time we meet Cary, he’s a teenage prodigy playing for a large audience. He’s lost, alone, and unhappy, but when he plays, he feels a deep connection to the music. Cary is the melody thief:
He screwed up his face, trying to ignore the bright lights at the edge of the stage, which burned his eyes and left multicolored imprints on his retinas. Cary Redding was barely fifteen years old, but he sat straight-backed, schooling his expression to reveal only calm resolve. Unlike some of the well-known performers he had watched on video, he did not move his body in time to the music, nor did he bend and sway. The cello became a physical extension of his body, and he had no need to move anything more than his fingers on the fingerboard and his bow over the strings.
When he played, he was transported to a place where it didn’t matter that his face had begun to break out or that he seemed to grow out of his shoes every other month. When he played, he forgot his fear that he was different—that he was far more interested in Jerry Gabriel than in Jerry’s sister Martha. When he played, he felt the kind of warmth he had horsing around with his brother in the backyard, chasing after a football.
At times he was terrified the audience would discover his secret: that he was unworthy of the music. But then his fingers would follow their well-worn path across the fingerboard, and his bow would move of its own accord. The music would rise and fall and engulf him entirely, and the audience would be on their feet to acknowledge the gangly, awkward teenager who had just moved them to tears.
He stood with his cello at his side and bowed as he had been taught not long after he learned to walk. The accompanist bowed as well, smiling at him with the same awed expression he had seen from pianists and conductors alike.
In that moment, he felt like a thief. A liar. The worst kind of cheat.
Back to opera again. In the third Blue Notes novel, Aria, we meet sexy baritone Aiden Lind, bisexual, handsome, and an amazing talent. He’s best known for his role as Don Giovanni (Don Juan) in Mozart’s opera by the same name. In this excerpt from when Aiden meets the other main character, Sam Ryan, it’s Aiden’s voice that connects with Sam on a visceral level:
The man seated to his left got up and threw a twenty down on the bar, then waved to the bartender and the other men at the counter. Sam finished his drink in one long swallow and looked up again, this time into a pair of warm brown eyes framed by long lashes. The newcomer smiled affably at him. Sam managed to return the smile before quickly looking back down at his empty glass.
This was a mistake. He pulled his wallet out of his jacket and rummaged for a twenty.
“I hope you’re not leaving on my account,” said the man next to him. And, God, what a voice! A resonant, sexy-as-fuck baritone that went straight from Sam’s ears to his cock.
“Aiden Lind,” he said more formally as he offered Sam his hand.
“Sam Ryan. Nice to meet you.” Aiden’s hand was warm, his grip firm.
Aiden gestured to the bartender. “Two more. On me.”
“I was just about to leave.” Sam didn’t want to be rude, but he needed to get out of the place. Coming here had been a mistake.
“Sure I can’t convince you to stay?”
“No. But thanks, Aiden. It was good meeting you.” Sam forced a smile and picked up his satchel before heading for the door. A moment later he stepped out into the chilly night air, taking deep breaths to calm his racing heart.
He wasn’t ready. He pulled his jacket collar up, then started for the subway station.
Sam turned around to see someone running after him down the street. What was his name? Aiden.
“Look, Aiden,” Sam said as he caught up with him, “I’m tired.”
Aiden blinked. “Oh. No. It’s not like that.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a wallet. Sam’s wallet.
Shit. The guy was being nice, and Sam had tried to blow him off.
Sam took the wallet and their fingers brushed. Sam’s cheeks warmed as their eyes met. Uncomfortable, he shifted his briefcase from one hand to another. “Thanks. Damn good thing my head’s attached to my body tonight.”
“No problem.” Aiden shoved his hands back into his pockets.
“It was good meeting you.” Sam was hard-pressed not to like the man.
“You too, Sam.” Aiden hesitated a second longer, then turned and waved as he headed back toward the bar.
It’s only a drink. No strings. It’s not like you have anyone waiting at home.
“On second thought,” Sam called after Aiden, “I think I’ll have that drink.”
“Great!” Aiden turned around and beamed at him, and Sam’s initial hesitation evaporated in the warmth of Aiden’s smile.
Curious about classical music and opera? Want to read a bit more about my sexy musicians and what makes them tick? Each Blue Notes Series book is a standalone story and the books in the series can be read in any order, so choose your passion and take them for a spin. You can find the latest installment in the series, “Aria” and all the other books on Dreamspinner Press’s website, Amazon, AllRomanceEbooks, and Barnes and Noble.
In her last incarnation, Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 35’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.