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After Midnight by Sarah Grimm
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After Midnight

by Sarah Grimm

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Isabeau was a child protégé. An exquisite pianist from a very young age, everyone expected her to become one of the greats. That is, until a car accident killed her mother and left her with both emotional and physical scars. Now Isabeau owns a bar, happy to serve her customers for the rest of her career. She successfully managed to mute the music that runs through her head. That is, until Noah walks in.

Noah is a musician. Currently recording a new album with his recently reformed band, he doesn’t expect to find anything to occupy him with until he walks into Izzy’s and spots the owner. Now he finds himself transporting his entire band to this small town under the guise of recording material in a smaller studio. Of course, what he really wants is to keep a close eye on the woman who seemingly can’t stand the sight of him. He doesn’t realise that her reaction is more of a defence mechanism that a blatant rebuttal because he terrifies her more than anything. He has brought the music back to Isabeau's life in full stereo, and she doesn’t want to go down that road again. Can he convince her that the attraction between them can lead to something amazing?

I’ll be honest, this book nearly got put down after three chapters. The amount of dialogue between the two characters in the first section, failed to hook me and I struggled with the slow pace that it created. I loved the character of Noah, but the character of Isabeau confused me. I’ve never been a fan of melodramatic characters and every little situation was the end of the world to her. That being said, I’m glad I persevered because it became a very compelling love story.

Both of these characters carry a tonne of emotional baggage. Noah is a recovering alcoholic who fell apart after the death of his friend and band mate, when they were younger. He was a strong character and never did he once shy away from his attraction to Isabeau. He tried to coax her with his presence and smooth ways, but not till he was completely sure she was attracted to him did he try for anything more. I loved that he cared enough to gentle her; it was seriously sexy! His rock star persona contrasted with his gentle ways towards Isabeau, which made him a compelling character and an all-round drool fest. I wanted a HEA for him, I just wasn’t sure I wanted the broken Izzy for him.

Isabeau is an incredibly broken and complex character. She never dealt with her mother’s death and the crack that it left on her psyche has bled into other aspects of her life. She blames her obsession with music for her mother’s death so refuses to play, even though at some points it nearly breaks her! Her relationship with her step-father is strained due to the damage her scumbag of a biological father did when he fought for custody of her (the guys an ass) and she has been stuck in this place of denial ever since. When Noah arrives on the scene he threatens this self-imposed stasis as he literally inspires music in hers! When he starts to care enough about her to try to break down some of her walls, she has to make a decision about her future. To be honest I don’t think she actually starts to make this decision until it comes to a point where he needs her; even when she sleeps with him or feels threatened by her strange stalker, she doesn’t open herself up to him. She lives in this state of anxiety that made me wary of her character and it wasn’t until she started to let him in that I considered her a candidate for the lovely Noah. Still, I didn’t want him to be with a woman that would require kid gloves forever. It wasn’t until I saw how much he needed to be needed that I knew they would be a good match.

This book is intense. The slow pace and central emotional storyline do not make for light reading but once it hooks you in, it’s hard to put it down. I didn’t find it a book I could just pick up and go; if I stopped, it took me a few pages to get back into it. The characters are compelling, the formation of the new relationship is a joy to read and the tension really grips you by the throat. The brief stalker plot-line was a welcome brief reprieve from the emotional roller coaster that Isabeau is put upon by her burgeoning feelings for Noah.

This book is about two people who fall in love and struggle to reconcile past baggage with new emotions. It’s sexy and intense; I enjoyed it and Noah. Now bring on Dom!
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  Scorchingrevs | Sep 21, 2013 |
This was a good book. The characters were developed, there was a little intrigue, although as soon as the character is introduced you know who it is.

Lots of angst with the characters, but they were beleivable and you were invested in them. I liked it enough that I am interested in purchasing Dominics story if it comes out. I liked the writing style and would purchase other books by this author, they are solid, but there was nothing for me in it that made it a stand out keeper.
  LCOP | Mar 5, 2013 |
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