Jamie Fessenden is here today with an exclusive excerpt from his second chance romance, Small Town Sonata. What a gorgeous cover this book has as well. This book has been on my TBR for a while, and I can’t wait to dive in this weekend. Check out the extended excerpt, let us know what you think.
Can the trusted town handyman rebuild a broken pianist’s heart?
When a freak accident ends Aiden’s career as a world-renowned classical pianist, he retreats to his New Hampshire hometown, where he finds the boy he liked growing up is even more appealing as a man.
Dean Cooper’s life as handyman to the people of Springhaven might not be glamorous, but he’s well-liked and happy. When Aiden drifts back into town, Dean is surprised to find the bond between them as strong as ever. But Aiden is distraught over the loss of his career and determined to get back on the international stage.
Seventeen years ago Dean made a sacrifice and let Aiden walk away. Now, with their romance rekindling, he knows he’ll have to make the sacrifice all over again. This time it may be more than he can bear.
Dean listened in absolute silence, his eyes seemingly transfixed by Aiden’s hands as they flowed across the keys, his coffee forgotten. “Brahms,” he said, after the final chord had settled. “Intermezzo in A-Major.”
Aiden quirked an eyebrow at him in surprise. “Yes. I wasn’t aware you listened to classical music.”
“Some,” Dean said, frowning down into his mug. He suddenly seemed uncomfortable. “I picked up a record of piano music when we were… whatever we were doing as teenagers… because I knew you liked it. I can’t say it beat out Springsteen, but I listened to it now and then. That was one of the tracks on the album.”
“You like it, then?”
“Uh… yeah. Why don’t you play something else?”
Aiden had the distinct feeling Dean wasn’t telling him something. Had he been insulted by Aiden not expecting him to recognize the piece? He’d never given Aiden any indication he liked classical music when they were in high school, though he’d seemed to enjoy listening to Aiden play.
Not having any idea what else to do, Aiden began playing again, this time some Chopin and Debussy. After a while, he realized he’d been monopolizing Dean’s attention for a long time, and it was getting late. His hands were aching too. So he wrapped up “Clair de lune” and said, “I suppose that’s enough.”
To Aiden’s delight, Dean nuzzled his ear, kissing him on the earlobe. “Thank you. It was wonderful.”
“You’re gonna call that orchestra in Manchester, aren’t you?”
Aiden was startled by the change in direction, and it threw him. “I, uh… I don’t know.”
“You’ve gotta do it,” Dean said, looking at him sternly. “You know you’re not gonna be happy hiding out here in the music room where nobody can hear you. You were meant to be on stage!”
Aiden knew he was right, but things weren’t that simple. The dull ache in his tendons was a harsh reminder of that. But he didn’t want to think about that—not right now. He got up from the bench, went to the filing cabinet, and opened one of the drawers. “You play clarinet?”
“Yeah. But… not all that well.” Dean sounded nervous.
Aiden found what he’d been searching for in the hanging folders and withdrew it—Mozart’s “Clarinet Concerto in A Major.” He pulled out the second movement, the adagio, and set the rest of it on top of the filing cabinet. Then he closed the drawer and went back to sit on the bench. “Do you remember when we watched Out of Africa on DVD?”
“Jesus.” Dean rolled his eyes. “I remember we both cried like babies, and I told you I’d kill you if anyone at school ever found out.”
Aiden laughed and kissed him on the cheek. “Your secret’s still safe.”
“It better be.”
“But remember when Meryl Streep and Robert Redford danced to a piece of music playing on an old Victrola?”
“Yeah. I loved that. That scene was one of the reasons I picked clarinet when I joined the school band.”
Aiden hadn’t known Dean was in the school band. But he supposed he had to have learned to play somewhere, and that was the most likely starting point. “Do you read music?” he asked, handing Dean the pages.
As Aiden played the beginning of a piano version of the orchestral part of the Concerto, Dean glanced at the music. “I can read music,” Dean said. “Are you saying you want me to learn this?”
“I’m asking you if you’d like to learn it. This is a version for just a solo clarinet and a piano. I already know the piano part.”
“Wouldn’t it be kind of a waste of your time, then?”
“Performing with you? I don’t see that as a waste. I think it would be fun.”
Dean took a long time to think about it before responding, “Okay. Sure. I’ve always wanted to learn this piece.”
“Then take it home and give it a try.”
Dean let out a puff of breath and glanced up at the clock. “I should get going.”
Aiden escorted him back through the kitchen, and they kissed at the door…. Then they made out at the door. At last Dean growled and said, “All right, this time I’m really leaving.”
Aiden looked down into his soft brown eyes. “Will I see you tomorrow?”
“Count on it.”
Aiden gave him a final kiss good night and watched him head out to his truck. This idea of taking it slow wasn’t going to last long, he knew. At the rate they were going, they’d probably end up in bed together tomorrow night.
What am I doing?
It wasn’t that he didn’t like Dean. He liked him a lot. As in… a lot. But was stirring things up between them a good idea? He’d been desperate to escape Springhaven when he was a teenager. Was he really ready to give up on his career and settle down there for good? The last thing Aiden wanted to do was hurt Dean—again.
Jamie Fessenden is an author of gay fiction in many genres. Most involve romance, because he believes everyone deserves to find love, but after that anything goes: contemporary, science fiction, historical, paranormal, mystery, or whatever else strikes his fancy.
He set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine and had another story place in the top 100 in a national contest, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie wrote several novels and published his first novella in 2010. That same year, Jamie and Erich married and purchased a house together in the wilds of New Hampshire, where there are no street lights, turkeys and deer wander through their yard, and coyotes serenade them under the stars.