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Summary

Imperfect harmony can still be beautiful....

John Fletcher, a former musician, is stuck in limbo after losing his long-term partner two years ago. He's shut himself off from everything that reminds him of what he's lost. When his neighbor persuades him to join the local community choir, John rediscovers his love of music and finds a reason to start living again.

Rhys Callington, the talented and charismatic choir leader, captures John's attention from the first moment they meet. He appears to be the polar opposite of John: young, vibrant, and full of life. But Rhys has darkness in his own past that is holding him back from following his dreams.

Despite the 19-year age gap, the two men grow close and a fragile relationship blossoms. Ghosts of the past and insecurities about the future threaten their newfound happiness. If they're going to harmonize in life and love as they do in their music, they'll need to start following the same score.

©2016 Jay Northcote (P)2017 Jay Northcote

What listeners say about Imperfect Harmony

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May/December and second chances.

Jay Northcote’s books always tug at my heartstrings, they are often a punch to the gut and are so very emotional and get me deep in the feelings.
This is no exception. Rhys and John both come from grief, from having lost a loved one; but further than the overcoming of grief, they have to face a significant age gap, that brings out all the insecurities in John and prevent him to take the leap and fully commit, as the younger and more daring Rhys has done.
The narrative is so enthralling you really feel the characters’ pain yourself and you become so immersed in their story it’s as though you were the one living it.
Another thing I love about Northcote’s books (I think I have mentioned it in some other review) is how real they are. Take the sex, for example, he’s one of the few authors I know that doesn’t always portray a perfect encounters, instead his characters are “real” and have real-life awkward moments during sex, and I find this absolutely refreshing and grounding.

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Music Notes and Second Chances

Imperfect Harmony is a beautiful and touching love story between two different men who have both experienced the pain and sorrow of losing a loved one. John Fletcher has lost his family and his partner, and now finds himself alone with just their memories. His only real friend is widowed neighbor who takes him out to choir practice – a trip that changes his life. Rhys Callington has made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he’s now finally in a good place. When he meets John, there’s an instant attraction, and their romance blooms. Their path is not all roses – there are anxieties about the age gap, grief about past loves, and the difficulties that occur when people start to move on – but despite all these obstacles, the love John and Rhys share is powerful. The story is made even more beautiful by Jay Northcote’s splendid writing that really brought both John and Rhys to life.

The audiobook was narrated by Mark Steadman who does a wonderful job with the narration. Mark voices each of the characters perfectly and his performance really makes the emotions tangible. I was completely enthralled with the story. The audiobook production was well done and made for a really enjoyable listening experience.

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Enjoyable story

I loved this May/December romance. John and Rhys are both still grieving in their own ways and I enjoyed the slow burn development of their relationship. The choir setting was an interesting aspect of the story and I really enjoyed the way their stories unravelled. Having previously read the book, I was a little disappointed with the narration as I found the tone a bit monotonous at times. However it did not distract too much from this beautiful story.

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sexy

musically sexy.. it was fun.. the story was amazing.. the narrator wasnt bad either.. not my favorite ive listened to but i enjoyed it.. the characters were fun to hear and become part of their lives with them.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 22-07-17

Loved these 2!

Jay Has written a no huge drama May December romance. Other than the fact these two are essentially widowers. I really liked these 2 and their relationship - and the people surrounding them. I liked their humility and their blushes - and the fact that they loved snuggling and just being together. I think this is my favorite Jay novel so far. I know I really like Mark Steadman as well, excellent narration!

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  • DivaColumbus
  • 13-05-21

Perfectly Imperfect Romance

First, I must start off by saying I am a huge Jay Northcote fan; I swear I don't think he can write a bad story. I actually read IH a few years ago and fell in love with Rhys and John. It was so nice to revisit these two and listen to their story being told. I prefer easy, low-angst romance and a May-December romance is one of my favorite tropes; IH delivered perfectly.

Mark Steadman does a wonderful job narrating; he added such depth and emotion to a heartbreaking, yet sweet love story. His voice is so soothing, his accent delicious, and his pitch and cadence is perfect. He has perfect timing and rhythm and delivered every emotion succinctly without over the top dramatics.

Rhys and John have both lost partners to tragic deaths and that alone is enough to break your heart; add in the age gap and all the uncertainties and insecurities that come with that (especially when you are the older partner) and you have a great storyline. Walking through the retelling of each of their losses with them is a combination of sadness, sorrow, and heartbreak; but it was also beautiful to see the love blossom between the two through their shared love of music. Watching John wrestle with and accept loving a younger man was so real and authentic; but Rhys, with his steady voice of reason is what made their relationship solid and kept John from making them both miss out on a second change at love. Rhys is the steady hand and love that John needed and his love helped John overcome his insecurities.

This story is a reminder that no matter our loss or our age, love can still find us if only we would open our hearts to it.

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  • M. Womochil
  • 13-02-21

Perfectly Imperfect

John and Rhys both have ghosts and tragedy in their pasts. They meet at choir practice as Rhys is the leader and John is just dropping off his neighbor but ends up persuaded to stay. Their journey isn’t an easy one, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. John has problems with the age gap as he doesn’t want to make Rhys go through losing someone he loved again and Rhys doesn’t want to lose out on the years they could have because John is scared. Eventually after some tough times and heart breaks, they find their way back to each other, imperfectly perfect for each other.

Jay always has a way with making you relate to his characters and love them with everything you have. You’re always rooting them on and cheering for their HEA!

Mark Steadman’s narration adds an extra layer of perfection. His voice is smooth and easy to listen to and the emotion and intensity hit perfectly in the right spots making it even more wonderful! I adore his voice and will continue to listen to narrations he’s done!

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  • H. Martin
  • 02-09-17

Imperfect Harmony

Imperfect Harmony by Jay Northcote is a May to December romance. John lost the love of his life and has closed himself off and removed anything from his life that reminded him of that love. While helping out a neighbor, John attended a choir practice with her and against his will, the music sucked him back in. Being a part of the choir is making John miss the music he used to create with his partner, and is making John gain some closure. John is realizing that he's still alive, and it's time to honor his partner's memory. Rhys is the director of the choir and he's impressed with John's talent. What starts as a friendship between two men who are both struggling soon develops into more. But, John and Rhys aren't going to find their way to love easily. John's struggle with loss and love just increases his fight to not fall in love again, especially with a man who's 19 years younger than him. Rhys has had his own loss and guilt and has to learn to quit punishing himself for what happened in his past.

This story had a very sad undertone throughout, but showed the struggle of the living as they began moving on with their lives. I liked both John and Rhys. And though there was a large age gap between the two men, it didn't really feel like one in the story. Rhys was young but more mature than John at times. Rhys was kind, sweet and a wonderful friend. And I thought it was interesting the way the different men reacted to grief, and how they lived their life because of it. I would have loved to have an epilogue, or something more at the end to show me that these two men found a HEA.

Imperfect Harmony is narrated by Mark Steadman. He had a nice pace, was easy to listen to and was great at portraying the emotions of the characters. The one issue I did have, was when narrating scenes that did not involve dialogue, it felt very monotone and failed to hold my attention.

Imperfect Harmony is a low angst book, with grief, friendship and love. It was an easy read and one you should definitely listen, or read!

Overall: 4
Performance: 4
Story: 4

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  • Morgan A Skye
  • 06-08-17

Fantastic story - tear jerker!

John is a music teacher who has recently lost a lot in his life: his lover, his mother, his music… now he’s living in his old childhood home trying to rebuild his life. He helps his neighbor out by driving her to choir practice and there he meets Rhys. Rhys is the surprisingly young director of the local choir and he’s entrancing.

Rhys has his own secrets and pain and John’s pain calls to his own. The two end up friends then more. But… John is 19 years older than Rhys. John has lost a lot and is unwilling to open himself up for more pain or resign Rhys to any either.

Together they must navigate their fears and hopes for the future.

**

Jay is a beautiful writer. Her love scenes are always erotic but not gratuitous. I think she handled the age gap and the pining very well. I really appreciated that both MCs had a loss they could refer to – it felt less lop-sided that way to me.

I loved how music thread it’s way through the story helping to heal in so many ways and as the music expanded so did the emotions. It was really well done.

The only complaint I had about this book – at all – was the ending. I wanted a bit more of the couple grappling with the huge issues between them and a more solid resolution. Though I feel that the couple did end on solid ground it felt a bit rushed in comparison to the lovely, slow and gradual build up we had in the rest of the story.

All in all it was another great story from an amazing writer.

4.25 of 5 stars

Audio

I really enjoy Mark Steadman’s narrations. This was a bit harder due to the age differences, several female voices and the seriously tough emotion that had to be portrayed right along side the lighter hearted, more romantic parts. I think he did an excellent job with this wide variety.

I highly recommend this as a way to enjoy this fantastic story!

5 of 5 stars

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

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  • Neta_BER
  • 19-07-17

another great book by Jay

Where does Imperfect Harmony rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

8 out of 10

Who was your favorite character and why?

John, he is hurt so bad and i love the his healing process

Have you listened to any of Mark Steadman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

it was better then some earlier books by him, i liked thing one better.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

the funeral

Any additional comments?

I love Jay Northcote's books, there I said it! I love all of them because if the delicate way the leading characters meet, how they can be both sexual and visceral but also feel so much and respect each other too. He has a way to really make you feel for them, feel them really, and pulls you into their heart. This story is about music, but also about healing the heart. The age gap between John and Rhys is almost 20 years but in their souls there is a connection born from similar live experiences, guilt and loss. They give each other the chance to grow, to try and go back to what they loved- music.

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  • AT
  • 09-07-17

3.5 stars

Imperfect Harmony was an emotional May-December romance about finding love after loss. This was my first book by the author and I am certainly interested in reading more by Mr. Northcote. The writing was solid and the characters had an honest vulnerability to them. However, it was the emotional responses from the characters that really stood out to me.

John and Rhys were both likable characters who were easy to connect with. Mr. Northcote did a wonderful job creating characters who existed beyond their painful past while weaving the pervasiveness of that loss into their emotions, thoughts, and choices about the future. The romance between John and Rhys was more of a slow build, which made sense given they were still grappling with the loss of a longtime partner. Unfortunately, I thought the pace in the first part of the Imperfect Harmony was a little too slow. While it allowed time to develop their personalities, establish their loneliness, and build chemistry between the men, my attention did wane. That said, I did like their romance and enjoyed the give and take of their partnership. I also appreciated that their new love wasn’t a magic balm to their healing hearts and they both had to work through their personal concerns.

The narrator for Imperfect Harmony gave a wonderful performance. Mr. Steadman had good timing, succinct pronunciation, and a calm steady rhythm. I especially loved how he respected and conveyed the emotions of the scenes and characters. Instead of using dramatic, vocal displays of emotion, his slight changes in tone and timing let the emotional words Mr. Northcote wrote create the poignant scenes that made this a really touching, sweet love story.

*Reviewed for Alpha Book Club*

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  • LGB
  • 25-06-17

Delightful story and narration

An uplifting May-December romance revolving around music and having a second chance at love. It’s a beautiful story with plenty of touching tearful moments. Yes, there’s a sad tinge to the story, but it’s not morbid or depressing at all. Each man was respectful of their past love and held their memory dear. Although different in age and physique, the characters came across as real, as did their grief and trepidation about falling in love again. Loved it.

Another lovely narration by Mark Steadman. Gentle pace and easy listening, with heart-wrenching, moving scenes.

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  • Lusitania
  • 20-06-17

A beautiful must read story

I have read all of Jay Northcote's books but this is the first time I have actually listened to one. I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All of the books I've listened to so far have been narrated by American narrators, even when the characters have a British accent. This was the first book I listened to where the narrator is already British so I thought it was going to be great. Except it felt a little flat in some parts. Whenever there wasn't any dialogue between characters I didn't feel the story as much as when there was dialogue. Mark Steadman is fantastic during scenes that have lots of emotion and the last few chapters of the book are perfection. Maybe it is that it took me a little longer to get used to a British voice or a new narrator I hadn't experienced before.
Regardless of that, the book itself is one of the best I've read and the story between John and Rhys is so beautiful. Two people stricken by grief finding a new beginning together when there is so much within themselves that is afraid.
I totally recommend reading or listening to this book.

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  • Em
  • 19-06-17

Amazing story!

This story is beautiful!!! The heartache that surrounds John and Rhys is so thick. Hidden to most but still so present to themselves. Rhys and John open up to each other fairly quickly and their relationship blossoms. The age difference causes some tension and trepidation on John's part. With each character rediscovering their love of music, they find love with each other.

Imperfect Harmony is a gorgeous story about 2 people who have lost so much but find so much more together.

Mark did an AMAZING job of bringing John and Rhys alive with his voice! Great flow and nice pace!