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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Counterpoint by Ruth Sims

Counterpoint by Ruth Sims
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (330 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

At eighteen Dylan Rutledge has one obsession: music. He believes his destiny is to be the greatest composer of the rapidly approaching twentieth century. Only Laurence Northcliff, a young history master at The Venerable Bede School for Young Gentlemen, believes in Dylan’s talent and encourages his dream, not realizing Dylan is in love with him.

But Dylan’s passion and belief in his future come at a high price. They will alienate him from his family and lead him on a rocky path fraught with disappointment, rejection, and devastating loss that kills his dream. A forbidden love could bring the dream back to life and rescue Dylan from despair and bitterness, but does he have the courage to reach out and take it? Will he deny the music that rules his soul?

Genius is not always easy to live with. Dylan Rutledge is a musical genius. He’s an uncommonly gifted composer in a world that’s not ready for change. The late 1800s world is not easy for Dylan as he struggles to gain acceptance for his works while his preference for men puts his life in danger. Through school, tutors, mentors, hardships, set backs, loss, heart break, and perseverance, Dylan’s life is one of tremendous highs and lows. From the first love of his life, music, to his long time partner Laurence, Dylan is not an easy man to love but he’s worthwhile. Yet when tragedy stacks on disappointment, even Dylan’s legendary stubbornness is put to the test.

Counterpoint is simply a wonderfully emotional and complex novel. It’s beautifully written with fantastic characters and likely to make you laugh, cry, and be sorry the ride ever ends. After Ms. Sim’s incredible book, The Phoenix, I was hard pressed to believe she could top that. Yet Counterpoint, amazingly, equals if not tops her previous work and delivers in all ways. The plot is well paced and depicts a genius composer in Dylan who is difficult to love, almost impossible to live with, yet totally irresistible. He has charm, charisma, and the necessary stubborn attitude to break out and create something totally new, artistically. Of course that path is rarely easy and Dylan’s life is no exception. He experiences a range of disappointments, setbacks, frustrations, heartache, loss, and depression. Yet he never gives up, no matter how close he gets and his perseverance is the key to survival and eventual success and happiness.

Intricately worked into the novel are the themes of love, music, friendship, and of course the great historical setting. The time frame of the late 1800s London and Paris is extremely well crafted and worked in with numerous small details. From comments about prominent (but starving) artists of the time that would gain fame postmortem to the vivid landscape and feel of that era, the dialogue, description, and narrative never lets the reader forget. Yet the telling is never dry or dull, but imbued with an energy and engaging pace that sucks you in immediately and never lets go. Although there are no explicit sex scenes, the romance and love between the characters is enough to satisfy any fan.

There are so many good things to say about Counterpoint, I feel I could go on at length. However I’ll simply urge fans to read this delightful novel and sink into the incredible world offered by Sims. The vibrant music is never forgotten or used as an easy prop and the cast of well-crafted characters will steal into your heart leaving laughter, tears, and joy. The drama and angst involved, expected with any great artist, never overwhelm the story but this is not a light read. Instead pick this up when you want something meaningful. You won’t regret it.

1 comment:

Ruth Sims said...

Wow. What can I say to adequately thank the reviewer for such a wonderful review. I didn't even know it had been reviewed here! This book is very special to me and it's lovely to know someone else thinks it is too.