reverie book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Reverie by Lauren E. Rico is as up-to-the-minute as tomorrow’s news! I grew up with classical music in the days way before television, even, and that’s a long time. I’ve read numerous books that professed to be about classical music, but they were written with music as an incidental piece of furniture. Reverie is not only a musical term, but this book IS music. I’m here to say this book could not have been written by anyone who did not grow up in a musical milieu. The authenticity throughout is astonishing as is the poetry of the musicians in regard to their instruments. This book would not be what it is without the music that runs through every page. And it is anything but dull or boring! No, it’s a tale for today, enjoyable by any intelligent reader.

It’s not a simple book, by any means, tackling as it does obsession, the foster care system, physical and sexual abuse, and issues of abandonment. It does it all while also accurately portraying the challenges inherent in having a superior talent and then trying to nurture it into a career that has limited openings. Even for the supremely talented, hard-working individual, it is still a difficult journey. Twenty-five years ago, I knew a young cellist who was clearly headed for great things, but in order to enroll at a top-notch music school, he needed a better cello. However, the price range of $50K+ was not within the financial reach of his upper-middle class parents. And that was twenty-five years ago, before the big boom pushed prices through the roof of a skyscraper. (This was similar to expecting a pre-med student to outfit his first office before entering college!)

Julia James has fought and scratched her way to the top of her musical education. The next step is graduation and finding the ideal career for a very gifted cellist. Should she try for the frequently unstable soloist route, or be content with the security of playing in a major orchestra? As principal cellist in her conservatory’s orchestra, she does at least have choices, for almost the first time in her life. Her teacher encourages her to enter a major competition. If she wins, all the doors in the world will be open to her. As the competition is held only every fourth year, it is important for her to do well. And do it, now.

Her best friend, Matthew Ayers, is a violist who greatly resembles a tennis player. They met as children in foster care: Julia had been abandoned, while Matthew’s parents were killed in an accident. He became protective of Julia and persisted in getting her a cello of her own. Now, he’s graduated from McInnes Conservatory and is a member of the world-class Walton string quartet. Once out of the foster care system, he’d been able to access the funds left to him by his parents, and purchased an apartment not far from the school. Julia has had a room with him since she’d been aged out of the same system.

And now – it’s show-time! Julia has not been exactly oblivious to the men she meets on a constant basis, but music was the primary reason for living, in her opinion. Suddenly, there are several men who express an interest in her. One of them, Jeremy Corrigan, horn player extraordinaire, makes a play for her. But he has an ulterior motive, for he is entered in the same major competition, and will do almost anything to win it. In addition to being blind, love has many guises, and it’s not always easy to see behind the masks when making a choice.

It’s difficult to believe this is the author’s first book. The plot, the concept, the pacing, the characters are exceptionally well done, as is the writing. Brava, Ms. Rico! Next, please?

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Lauren E. Rico. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.