Thank you, Sara, for hosting me today and letting me ramble a bit about my series of classical music themed gay romances!
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Blue Notes Series, they are interrelated, standalone novels, each with a classical music theme. Secondary characters in one book become the main characters in another, and the books can be read in any order. The third book in the Blue Notes Series, Aria, was released on December 24th, and is now available for purchase in ebook or paperback format on the website, Amazon, AllRomanceEbooks, and Barnes and Noble.
With each Blue Notes book, I've tried to create romances with real characters and real situations, many of those situations taken from my own experiences as a violinist and later, as an opera singer. Of all of the books in the series so far, Aria is the one that is perhaps the most realistic.
Aria is the story of lawyer Sam Ryan, who first appears as a secondary character in the original Blue Notes. Still reeling from the sudden death of his longtime partner, Sam meets aspiring opera singer Aiden Lind in a Manhattan gay bar. The attraction between the two men is immediate, and the promise of their fledgling relationship obvious to both. But Sam is still grieving, and when Aiden receives a prestigious scholarship to study in Europe, Sam lets Aiden go, unable to move forward and try to forge a relationship with someone new.
Five years later, the two men meet again at a party in Paris hosted by Blue Notes pair Jason Greene and Jules Bardon. Aiden is now at the top of his game, performing internationally with the best opera companies. Sam thinks he's finally ready to move on, but he'll have to convince Aiden to forgive him for breaking his heart years before.
When Aiden and Sam finally decide to give their relationship a second chance, they are both full of hope that this time will work. But the realities of a long-distance relationship are hard to ignore, and things between them start to fall apart. They must learn to communicate through the challenges, or their relationship won't survive.
The next book in the series, Prelude, is scheduled for release in April of this year. Co-authored with my good friend Venona Keyes, Prelude is the story of one of the secondary characters who appears in all three of the Blue Notes Series books, David Somers. Interested in reading about that one? You can read about it and read an excerpt here.
I hope that my own experiences add to the realism of Aria (and not only the challenges, but also the opera world setting itself). Oh, and if you're curious, you can hear a recording of me singing in a live performance of Puccini's "Tosca" by clicking here.
Excerpt from Chapter 14
“MR. LIND?” The stage manager poked her head into his dressing room. “There’s a Mr. Ryan to see you.”
“Thanks, Carla.” Aiden guzzled the rest of his bottle of water and went to the door.
“Sam. Damn, it’s good to see you.” He pulled Sam inside and shut the door, then kissed Sam, lingering lightly over his lips before embracing him. There hadn’t been any earlier flights from Philly to Miami, and they hadn’t seen each other before the concert.
“You were wonderful.” Sam put down the small overnight bag he was still holding and swept two fingers over Aiden’s lips, a gesture that made Aiden shudder with pleasure.
Aiden smiled the same pleasant smile he always gave when someone complimented him. It mattered little that the reviews of his performances were universally good; he still felt uncomfortable with the praise. Even a little undeserving. “Thank you.”
He’d worried that the weeks apart might have made their reunion a bit awkward, but as usual, Sam set him at ease with another kiss.
“So what’s on the agenda to celebrate the New Year? You promised you’d let me know what you were up to when I got here.”
“Did I?” Aiden did his best not to smile.
“Is it something I’ll like? Because I’m thinking spending the night in a hotel with you would be fine with me.” Sam laughed against Aiden’s throat as he feathered kisses there.
“My lips are sealed.” Aiden pushed Sam playfully away, then grabbed a small duffel from off the lighted table. “I think you’ll like it, though. Just the two of us. Romantic.”
Sam put an arm around Aiden’s waist and pulled him back, this time to claim his lips.
“This is just the two of us.” There was a mischievous twinkle in Sam’s eyes.
“Do lawyers always argue?”
Aiden pulled away and straightened his bow tie and cummerbund. “Mr. Ryan, we’re on a very tight schedule here. The limousine is waiting outside and”—Aiden pushed up his sleeve to check his watch—“we have four hours to midnight. I’ll hold you in contempt if we’re late.”
Sam held up his hands. “I’m throwing myself at the mercy of the court.”
“You might have to make me behave.” Sam’s eyes glittered with lust.
“Shit. You’re incorrigible.” He aimed Sam in the direction of the door, giving him only a minute to grab his bag before pushing him into the corridor. “This way,” he said as he gestured to the entrance to the street. A moment later they were outside, and Aiden was leading Sam over to a limousine. There, the driver took Sam’s suitcase and held the door for them.
Once settled inside, Sam looked at Aiden with a raised eyebrow. “Nice. So are we headed to some swanky party that only the rich and famous are invited to?”
Aiden only shook his head. “My lips are sealed.” Okay, so Sam proved him wrong on that point pretty quickly with a deep kiss. But he wouldn’t give up the secret. “Keep trying. I’m liking this.”
“Clearly I’ve miscalculated. I should be withholding my affections. Then maybe you’d come clean and tell me where we’re headed.”
Aiden bit his lower lip before opening a panel to reveal a bottle of chilled champagne and two crystal flutes. Then, without missing a beat, he said, “Something to drink?”
“Isn’t it a few hours too early?”
“It’s past midnight in London,” Aiden pointed out as he opened the bottle and filled their glasses.
A few minutes later, they were settled in each other’s arms. “I missed you, Aiden. Sam’s voice was soft in Aiden’s ear. “More than you know.”
“Oh, I think I know.” Aiden’s heart felt as though it were going to burst.
THE limousine stopped about twenty minutes later. Sam looked out the window. They were in a parking lot illuminated by several lights. There was what looked like a small building at the edge of the lot, but other than a single light at the entrance, there was nothing to identify it. When Sam looked to Aiden for an explanation, he just took the champagne flute from Sam’s hand, placed it alongside his own on the console, then pulled something out of the same cabinet in which he’d found the bottle and glasses.
“Gonna tell me what that is?”
Aiden held the object out so that Sam could see it. A flashlight.
“What are you up to, Lind?”
The driver opened the door and Aiden illuminated their way, leading Sam across the parking lot and down a paved walkway. The faint scent of the ocean wafted on the breeze, and the air was cool. “You’re not very good with surprises, are you?”
Sam shook his head and chuckled. “Depends.” He snaked an arm around Aiden, nearly knocking him off balance before pulling him tight to claim Aiden’s lips. “As long as it involves you and sex, I’m good with it.”
“Could be.” Aiden slipped out of Sam’s grasp and continued to walk and point the way. “Watch your step here.”
A band of metal met the pavement, and the path beyond was wood. The smell of salt water was powerful here. A dock. “Aid—”
“You might want to take your shoes off.” Aiden was already slipping out of his patent leather oxfords and rolling up the legs of his tux pants. Sam did the same, unable to suppress a grin. Wherever they were going, he was having fun. He felt like a kid again. “You can leave them here. Ralph will pick them up when he comes with the bags.”
Aiden took Sam’s hand, and they walked to the end of the dock until they reached a large white wall. A restaurant, perhaps.
Then the restaurant’s lights went on, illuminating the surface of the wall. “Holy shit.” It wasn’t a restaurant. It was an enormous yacht—at least a hundred feet long. “Where did you…?”
“Mr. Lind?” A man wearing a crisp white uniform, complete with captain’s hat, walked toward them down the gangway at the end of the pier.
“That’s me. So good to have you joining us tonight. And this is Mr. Ryan?”
Sam offered the man his hand. “I’m Rich Cowan. Captain of the Prelude. Good to meet you.”
Rich looked to Aiden, who nodded.
“She belongs to David Somers.”
They climbed aboard and Sam tried not to stare as a young woman dressed in white pants and a white polo greeted them.
“This is Amy. She’ll be attending to you gentlemen. We’ll be getting underway for the Bahamas in a few minutes. We’ll arrive by morning. Maestro Somers sends his compliments and says you should enjoy yourselves. We’ll arrive back in Miami in time for your flights on Monday morning. Enjoy your evening, gentlemen.”
“Dinner will be ready in about an hour,” Amy told them after Rich left. “Would you like to dine on the foredeck?”
“Sounds wonderful.” Aiden turned to look at Sam, who nodded his approval.
“Do you need me to show you the stateroom?” she asked.
“I know the way. Thanks, Amy.” Aiden turned to Sam after she left. “Well? How did I do?”
“Not bad.” Sam did his best to keep a straight face. But then Aiden smiled, and Sam grabbed him and crushed his lips against Aiden’s. “Better than that,” he said after the kiss broke. “Amazing, really.”
“We have an hour. How about thanking me up close and personal.” Aiden took Sam’s hand once more and led him down a set of stairs to the cabins below.
THEY sat on the foredeck, having finished one of the best meals Sam had ever eaten.
Not that the starry sky and the company had anything to do with it.
“Remind me to thank David next time I see him.” Sam stood up and began to massage Aiden’s shoulders.
“My fairy godfather.”
“David’s been too good to me.” Aiden’s voice was slightly wistful now. “Not only this, but he helped me out of a bad situation.”
“I’m not sure I’d have had the guts to move out if it hadn’t been for David. Hell, I tried to find a place of my own in London and he told me to stay. Said he didn’t spend much time there anyhow.” Aiden leaned into Sam’s hands, and Sam kissed him on the top of his head.
“You sound almost like you don’t think you deserve his friendship.”
Aiden’s shoulders tensed beneath Sam’s fingers. “Am I that obvious?”
“Sometimes I worry that I can’t even begin to give back what he’s given me.”
Sam moved in front of Aiden and drew him up off the chair with a hug. “You don’t give yourself enough credit, you know.”
“You think?” Aiden’s laugh was bitter.
Sam traced a line over Aiden’s lips. “I think I could kick myself for letting you go. Twice.”
Aiden’s smile looked strained. “Are you sure you want this? I mean, there’s a reason you let me go before. My lifestyle isn’t exactly the best for long-term relationships.”
"It was never about your lifestyle.” Sam wasn’t exactly sure how to explain his hesitation. “I just wasn’t ready.”
“You don’t need to justify it, Sammy.”
“I know. But I wish—”
“Here and now. That’s what matters. Fuck the rest of it.”
“Right.” Sam inhaled a long slow breath and looked over the bow at the moon rising on the horizon. And yet he couldn’t help but think of New Year’s past. And of Nick. “You’re right. Fuck the rest of it.”
“Happy New Year, Sammy.”
“Happy New Year, Aiden.”
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