Author: Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons, #2
Released: September 30 2014
Length: 270 pages
Sometimes you have to play love by ear.Love Lessons, the first book in Heidi Cullinan's milder-than-usual series, proved that this author excels at characterization. This fact was pretty clear from her previous work as well, especially Dance With Me, which is one of my all-time favorites. But for some unidentifiable reason, Love Lessons didn’t quite reach me emotionally, not as much as I felt it should have.
Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.
Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end.
Warning: Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella.
When Fever Pitch came along, I waited a bit to read it, expecting more of the same, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This book, you guys, I have no words to describe how it made me feel.
The story starts with Aaron in his final days of high school. Aaron is one of the popular crowd, but not necessarily by conscious choice. He is a quiet boy, terrified of his father and reluctant to disappoint his weak mother. He needs to choose a college, but trying to make everyone happy is slowly driving him crazy, which is how he ends up drunk in a laundry room at a party. There he finds Giles, the school geek and one of the few openly gay boys. Giles has a habit of sleeping with the closeted boys, the straight boys, and pretty much everyone he aims to prove a point to, which usually ends up with him being bullied and beaten after the fact, when said boys realize that going on the defensive is the only way to hide their adventures. For Giles, Aaron is just another closeted gay boy looking for some fun before putting him in the hospital, but by the end of the night, they both end up making some major changes.
Despite their explosive beginning, Fever Pitch is a very slow burn romance. It takes a lot for these two to finally come together, a lot of growing on both their parts, plenty of self-discovery for Aaron, more than a little courage and quite a few disasters along the way. Although they’re at the same college and interested in music, they both have a hard time overcoming their fear and prejudice, which they have to do in order to finally admit their feelings.
Walter and Kelly from the first book are very present in this story, as a safety net of sorts for poor Aaron. It was nice seeing them happy and engaged, fully embracing their love for each other and Kelly’s love for all things Disney-related. But Cullinan introduces a whole army of new characters as well, and gives them all plenty of attention. Those secondary characters, including Giles’ parents, Aaron’s awful family, their college friends and especially Baz and Elijah, turned this book from something ordinary and nice into something quite extraordinary and just gorgeous.
It needs to be said that music plays a huge part in this book. It gives our boys common ground, something they’re both extremely talented at, but it also gives Aaron some much-needed self-confidence and a reason to finally stand up to his father. The final scene had me laughing and crying at the same time, playing Titanium over and over again and singing for all I was worth. If you decide to read this book, you’ll likely end up doing the same and trust me, it’ll be one of the best experiences you’ve had in ages.
This song is very far out of my comfort zone, but it is very significant for this story and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. I believe it’ll be equally important for Baz and Elijah’s story (it’s Baz’s song after all), which honestly can’t come soon enough.