Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blog Tour: In Harmony (Fenbrook Academy #2) by Helena Newbury

In Harmony (Fenbrook Academy #2)
by Helena Newbury
Paperback/eBook, 401 pages
Release date: September 21st 2013
Publisher: Foster & Black New Adult

Everyone expects her to succeed….
Karen plays the cello like an angel, and it’s the only thing that makes her truly feel alive. But her father’s dream—for her to join a prestigious orchestra—leaves no time in her life for anything but music…not even love. Trapped on her path, she doesn’t know how to rebel.

Everyone expects him to fail….
Connor plays rock guitar like the devil himself, and his ability has got him all the way from a dead-end life in Belfast to a scholarship at Fenbrook Academy. But beneath his arrogance and charm, he doesn’t believe he has what it takes. He’s spent his time in New York drinking and partying, and the only future he sees is a return to Ireland as soon as he flunks out.

But what no one expects….
When Karen’s duet partner is injured, the bad boy guitarist and the shy, sheltered cellist are forced to team up. Neither likes the idea, but what begins as anger and distrust slowly spirals into love…and lust. If they can face up to their feelings, they might just have a chance together. If Connor will allow Karen to stop his fall, maybe he can show her a life she never thought possible....

I stopped playing.

It’s him!

I looked down at the cello, 
rewinding the music in my head. Hard and forceful, confident and even cocky. Barely-controlled anger underneath. My second section was Connor. I’d written him into the music.

I looked across at Connor, and 
thought of his second section. Just like mine, it had been very different to his normal music. Slow, and almost timid. Oh God…he’d written me. Nervous and shy and…there’d been something else. A sort of dark rhythm underneath that had built and built, wanting—needing—to be met by a harmony. What could that—

I flushed.

Was that really how he saw me? A 
librarian with hidden passions? And what did it mean, that we’d unknowingly written each other into our music?

Karen is a proud music geek. She's had one career track since she was a kid-to play cello for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Now she's practicing for the spring recital--the most important public performance of her life so far--so she can graduate, and hopefully prove to the NYPO rep in attendance that she is worthy of a position with them. When her duet partner hurts his arm and cannot perform, Karen walks around Fenbrook Academy in a zombie-like state. All of her hard work, all of the years spent practicing and not having much of a social life, will have been for naught. Her controlling father will sweep in, pack her things, and take her back to Boston to all the things she does not want.

Until she hears about Connor. He is the only remaining student who hasn't picked a partner. Karen feels hopeful and pursues him, never thinking about the repercussions of working with the gorgeous bad boy guitarist. She just may discover there's more to the Irishman than just a sexy brogue and tight abs. And another set of strings may feel the pluck of fingertips-her heartstrings. 

The old adage of opposites attract applies to Helena Newbury's latest addition to her Fenbrook Academy series and the author makes the formula work exceedingly well. Karen starts off like the little mouse she is, geeky, smart, determined to perform in the spring recital and graduate. She wasn't expecting a lad like Connor to turn things completely around for her. Connor is also a wonderful character, all assurdness and confidence until one scratches at his hot hung-over mask. The young man found below may surprise you. He certainly surprised me. The chemistry between these two is subtle at first, until they begin to practice. Through music, they find more than the need to find acceptance from the educators at Fenbrook and the respect of their peers-they find each other.

Finally, a story about music which mentions music and has the characters performing, practicing, and writing it. Karen carries her cello around like the extra dead weight she's been carrying on her shoulder all her life. The burden of not being able to perform in public and the misconception others had from her first school concerning a certain past incident, along with the rigors of a demanding father who can cut her monetary provisions at any second, are all too much for this young woman to have. Connor has his own problems but with him she sees everything she is not and everything she could be.

Karen and Connor don't fall for each other instantly. Thank you. Their relationship change from partners to lovers is gradual, much like the creation of a stirring composition which takes many hours to compose and perfect. They are captivating to watch. I so enjoyed the little touches and nuances between them as feelings intensify and true musicianship and passion surfaces. A certain look or touch can be more powerful than paragraphs of purple prose found in some of today's romances. The scenes on the rooftop, in the practice room, in the supply closet, heck, anytime these two get together, there was something else to admire and love. The city setting provided the right amount of tension, the school halls gave it a sober realism. A strong supporting cast of characters including Karen's group of closest friends added to the allure of this New Adult contemporary romance. 

This has been a great week for reading New Adult. Helena Newbury has now been added to my list of favorite authors as her In Harmony novel still resonates with my heart long after I finished reading it. A classic formula for attraction becomes a timeless love story between a talented music geek and misunderstood bad boy. Set amidst the backdrop of a performing arts college, Karen and Connor's story will enchant readers. They certainly enchanted me.

Rating: 4.5

Cover comment:
I didn't picture Connor as totally looking like this-his hair is darker and longer. Also, Karen is shorter, but the pose from the cover models reflects the intensity of the couple's passion so it does work.

Book source:
I received a promotional copy in return for my honest review during a blog tour.

About the Author

Helena Newbury is a New Adult Romance author with a love of bakingly hot summer days, strawberry gelato, good coffee and interesting people. Unlike the characters in her books, Helena cannot dance, act or play anything (though she is substantially more flexible since she started writing Dance For Me and tried doing dancer’s stretches, so she's hoping that something will rub off on her from each book).

Helena writes in a very noisy, very busy coffee shop which means she sometimes end up mainlining caffeine to keep her seat. You’ll know when this happens because she’ll still be on Twitter that night at 4am.

She loves meeting and talking with other authors, traveling to new places and discovering new books. You can find her on:

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  1. Great review and excerpt. Thank you for participating :)

  2. Thank you! I'm blushing from that review!

  3. That's a pretty nice cover :)