Title: Invitation to the Blues
Series: Small Change #2
Publisher: Monster Press
Publication date: March 28, 2018
Length: 316 pages
Reviewed by Erin
Eight months ago Jude Lucen fled his partner, his career, and a hospital in Boston after a suicide attempt. Now back in Philadelphia, he feels like a complete failure. Piano has always been his passion and his only escape. Without it, he has nothing. Well, nothing except a pathetic crush on the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.
Faron Locklear came to Philly looking for a fresh start and has thrown himself into tattooing at Small Change. He’s only met Jude a few times, but something about the red-haired man with the haunted eyes calls to him. Faron is blown away by Jude’s talent. What he isn’t expecting is the electricity he feels the first time they kiss—and the way Jude’s needs in bed speak directly to his own deepest desires.
Jude and Faron fall fast and hard, but Jude has spent a lifetime learning that he can’t be what the people he loves need. So when the opportunity arises to renew his career in Boston, he thinks he has to choose: music, or Faron? Only by taking a huge risk—and finally believing he’s worthy of love just as he is—can he have the chance for both.
The Small Change series is set in the Middle of Somewhere universe and features crossover characters from that series. Each book can be read on its own.
Content warning: This book contains explicit discussion of depression, anxiety, attempted suicide, and feelings of worthlessness.
Roan Parrish is one of my favorite authors. Full stop, no lie, no matter what she writes, I will read it and love it. I know before even starting a book--or reading the blurb for that matter--that the story will be full of well developed, multi-layered characters, the writing will be evocative and flow effortlessly, and I'll cry, be it from happiness or despair, but she will make me feel ALL THE THINGS. She's a master at her craft, weaving words and emotions like few others can do, so I knew when I found out that Jude would be getting his own book, that I'd need a tissue. Or two. Or probably an entire box. Invitation to the Blues is the second book in Roan's Small Change series, but it can be read as a standalone. (Caveat--read the first one, Small Change, because you do not want to miss the fabulousness that is Christopher and Ginger!)
From Small Change we learned a bit about Jude, but in Invitation to the Blues, we really get to know this wonderfully complex and somewhat broken man. Jude Lucen is a character you can't help but love. His anxiety, guilt, and issues are great, sure, but he's so exceptionally vulnerable he makes you want to wrap him in the warmest blanket and hold him close. He's suffered from severe depression for most of his life and Parrish's deft, poignant, and often visceral handling of Jude's reality is done masterfully. She never lets Jude come across like a victim, even if there are times and days Jude getting out of bed seems impossible. Jude's got such strength and there is a light inside of him just waiting to be let out. And it's Faron who helps in this where no one else has been able to.
Faron Locklear's first appearance in Small Change had me intrigued. He's this ethereal, enigmatic, intense man who at first glance might not seem like a good match for Jude when the opposite is true. Faron SEES Jude, imperfections and all, and appreciates all of him. He's patient and kind and so very sexy. Jude's outside appearance--his bright red hair, pale skin, and freckles--calls to Faron's artistic sensibilities, but it's Jude's heart Faron is most interested in. These two together are something special. Their open and honest, painfully so at times, and so vulnerable it almost hurts to witness. But that's what makes them so strong, and so right for one another. I could literally quote almost every line of Invitation to the Blues to show you just how beautiful this book and these characters are. I have highlights on most every page. That's what makes this book and Roan's writing so special.
Invitation to the Blues is about a lot of things. It's about Jude's love of music and how it feeds his soul, even when everything seems darkest. It's about Faron's art and how it fuels his view of the world. It's about letting go of guilt and fear and believing in hope. It's about family. Both Jude and Faron have family issues they have to deal with and I appreciated the way both were written. Jude has a terrible amount of guilt and shame for the things he's put his parents, and his brother, Christopher, through, and it's not until Faron helps him deal with this that Jude allows himself to be happy. Faron's issues are different, but no less difficult to come to terms with and the honesty and openness Jude and Faron talk to and help one another is incredible.And then Jude and Faron together are so beautiful. *sigh* Don't miss this truly fantastic book, y'all. Be ready to love Jude and Faron as much as I do!
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