Playing the Maestro
My feelings were all over the map as I read Playing the Maestro. I liked the idea of a professional musician as heroine, and initially found the primary setting of the orchestra hall interesting. But the musical jargon soon became overwhelming. And while the hero and heroine feel real, several secondary characters seem to be caricatures. Ultimately, the author tried to do too much and include too many characters in this short romance.
Melody is the primary flutist in a struggling community orchestra outside of Boston. She’s recently had a disastrous date with Blake, the concertmaster (and personnel manager) of the orchestra. Blake now seems determined to sabotage Melody’s place in the orchestra. I could understand that, but he also seems to be trying to sabotage the orchestra itself at times. Blake has also hired a sexy new German conductor — Wolf — to make the orchestra more profitable.
Blake expects Wolf to fire many members of the orchestra, and that’s initially Wolf’s plan as Wolf signed a contract agreeing to improve the quality of the orchestra and increase ticket sales. However, when he sees the passion some of the worst players in the orchestra have for music he doesn’t know how he can cut them.
Wolf takes an instant dislike to Melody as she resembles his awful last girlfriend. But the two conveniently run into each other in a number of places outside of orchestra hall (a toy store, the hospital, a dark alley). I’ll have to admit I was a bit confused about the town the romance occurs in. It’s large enough to have a community orchestra in which the members are paid (admittedly a paltry sum). But it’s small enough that Wolf and Melody can run into each in so many places. Nonetheless, Wolf soon learns Melody has many wonderful qualities his ex never had. In fact she’s so wonderful that he falls in love with her in about two days. They have to keep their relationship secret, however, as Blake has instituted a policy of non-fraternization amongst orchestra members.
The struggles of musicians ring true. In addition to the orchestra, Melody supports herself financially by playing at weekend weddings and giving flute lessons. Both Melody and Wolf comment several times about the difficulties of working in a dying musical genre. While I think Melody and Wolf are interesting characters, there’s too little focus on their relationship for my taste. Melody seems to become the love of Wolf’s life much too fast given how little time they actually spend alone together.
An author can only do so much with a short format romance. In this case I feel the author includes too many superfluous secondary characters, chief among them Wolf’s ex. A little less time spent with secondary characters and a little more time showing Melody and Wolf together would enhance the believability of their romance. Blake is enough of a caricature; a second one-dimensional character in the form of Wolf’s ex just isn’t necessary.
Parts of this were quite enjoyable, but there are too many problems for me to recommend it. In addition to the previously mentioned problems, I was overwhelmed at times by product placement, and could have used more dialog tags at several points. Despite those problems, I’ll be willing to try another book by the author, as there are some definite sparks with her main characters.