Author ~ Nic Starr
Published ~ 26th January 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Adam Chambers has never seen eye-to-eye with his father and is reluctant to take over the family’s property-development company. To clear his head and work out what he wants to do with the rest of his life, Adam leaves his responsibilities in the city and heads out to see the country.
He isn’t much closer to deciding what to do with his life when he arrives at one of Australia’s largest events, the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and meets Joey Callaway.
Since Joey’s father’s tragic death left Joey the family’s debt-ridden pub, Joey has struggled, desperate to turn the business around and give his mum the life she deserves. A break away from the pressures of running the pub is just what he needs, and a hook-up with Adam is the perfect way to forget about his troubles.
The one-night stand might just be an opening act. If Adam and Joey can follow the music in their hearts, perhaps they can heal each other and create a melody that will last a lifetime.
“Rustic Melody” is a book by the noted and talented writer, Nic Starr, set in a small town in Australia. Ms. Starr has an easy way with words. Her characters are accessible and authentic, her situations all-too-believable, and her settings, though totally Australian, will be familiar to readers from anywhere in the world.
When all is said and done, the pub in which most of “Rustic Melody” is set is not very different from bars, grilles, restaurants and pubs in any small town, in any country. This one is owned by an attractive young man, Joey, a young man who doesn’t have a life. That is, unless you consider waking up to prepare the pub, hauling in cases of liquor from early-morning delivery trucks, waiting on customers, closing and cleaning, and then sitting alone at a desk, late at night, fretting over the books that seem to be perpetually in the red, day in and day out, a life. He doesn’t date. He doesn’t vacation. He doesn’t play. He inherited the failing establishment from his father, who passed away long before his time, and now Joey’s trapped. The pub is still saddled with debt, and the likelihood of it getting paid down enough to sell the establishment seems to drift further and further away the more he works at reducing it. Of course, he’s in the off-season of this country village. It’s a college town, and the students are on break, leaving only his regulars and the occasional tourist. There are no guests in the rooms upstairs, and little traffic off the street.
Adam, on the other hand, comes from a wealthy family where money is not an issue. His father is a rich real-estate developer just waiting for Adam to join the firm, full-time, now that he’s finished his business degree. A city boy, born and bred, Adam has a big problem with his father’s business – its absolute and total lack of ethics. His father made his fortune intimidating and stepping on people he sees as obstacles, and he expects Adam to do the same. After all, it’s just business, isn’t it? Adam has decided to take a break, to tour Australia as a “regular” person for a while, in hope of figuring out what to do with his life. Every day, he’s less convinced that he can live with working for his father.
Both young men are lost, futures indeterminate, alone and unhappy. Therefore, it’s kind of inevitable that they meet up at some point. In this case, it’s at a Country-Music festival in a town not far from Joey’s own. It’s a big festival, attended by people from all across the country, so what is the likelihood that these two young men will bump into each other by chance? Well, perhaps it wasn’t chance. It might have been destiny, kismet, karma, whatever. Walking the crowded streets of the festival, Joey hears this gorgeous voice coming from a street-busker just across the road. Not only is his voice gorgeous, but he’s risking infamy. He’s singing pop, not country, but so well, so passionately, that he’s drawn quite a crowd. Of course, that busker is Adam, singing and playing for coins despite the fact that he doesn’t need the money the crowd gladly donates to show their approval.
Joey has a room in the overbooked town, Adam does not. He invites Adam to stay with him and, as they say, the rest is history. The two young men like each other, on sight, and bunking together in the second-rate pub only draws them closer. They have little in common aside from their age, and their love of music, but some spark is lit and it’s that spark that drives the rest of “Rustic Melody”.
Their journey to find themselves and, at the same time, each other, is charming, touching and remarkably real. This is not a “hearts and flowers” romance, it’s the slowly-simmering union of two young men battling cynicism and seeking self-discovery. And what they discover is that what matters most to them is each other.
Yes, there’s a happily-ever-after (how could there not be?), but it’s not a foregone conclusion and not one easily arrived at. The power of the “Rustic Melody” is the journey the two young people take, not the destination.
Ms. Starr does a beautiful job exploring their souls, peeling away the layers so that the reader is constantly discovering new things, new possibilities and falling, ever so slightly, for these two good men. This is a journey that most people go through – the journey to self-realization, to self-awareness, to love. With Ms. Starr’s flawless prose and evocative descriptions, it’s a journey we all get to observe and share up-close, first-hand.
This is a charming book, a small-town book, a subtle and smoldering book that delivers more than you might expect from a book so simple and direct. I recommend it highly. I suspect it will stick with you, long after you’ve finished it, as it did with me.