Review – Fever Pitch (Love Lessons #2) by Heidi Cullinan

Fever Pitch cover image

Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: 30 Sep
How I got this book: ARC from the author

Sometimes you have to play love by ear.

Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.

Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end.

Warning: Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella.
This blurb came from the author’s website.

Almost exactly a year ago I read and absolutely loved the first book in this series, so when she contacted us asking if we would be interested in the second installment I couldn’t say yes fast enough. While I did enjoy Fever Pitch unfortunately it didn’t have the same magic as Love Lessons for me. It seemed as if there was just TOO much in this story so my empathy for the multitude of characters and their situations became exhausted.

Aaron and Giles graduated from the same high school but moved in completely different circles. Aaron’s parents were divorced and he lived with his mother who seemed to be a rather weak woman. Aaron’s father was a domineering lawyer who wielded his money and his temper as a weapon against anyone who showed an inkling of independent thought. As a result Aaron never really made a decision with what he wanted in mind but went along with the path of least resistance regardless of how miserable it made him. Without any close friends, Aaron hung out with a group of guys who were known to gay bash which added to his general feeling misery but gave the impression he was part of the “in” crowd.

Giles came from an almost entirely opposite background. His parents were very supportive and he had his best friend Mina, but because of some horrible past experiences he kept secrets from them all. He wasn’t exactly out and held most people at a self-protective distance but had secluded private sexual encounters with several of his openly hostile classmates. Then Giles encountered Aaron, alone away from the pack and started thinking there was something more to him and took a chance. However, the combination of his elevated expectations and Aaron’s self-discovery ended the night on a lingering sour note.

The sour note lasted for several months during their first year of college as each tried to find their way. As they became more settled in they both had very different experiences. Giles had a great roommate situation, was one of the orchestra stars, yet remained on the fringes bitter and jealous of Aaron. Aaron had a pretty hostile roommate, was a very popular vocal star, yet he didn’t have any friends. Then things changed. Sadly I was told Aaron and Giles went from a Cold War sort of stand-off to friends while working together on a project. I really wanted to see their transition because of the amount of angst during their separation. Cullinan did build up their transition to romance and how they worked through some issues associated with their relationship, which I enjoyed. At first I thought their relationship was rather one-sided until I realized while it might appear one gave more than the other instead they gave in different ways.

Fever Pitch was full of supporting characters. Besides Walter and Kelly, a multitude of other college students, several college professors, and four different sets of parents all played a significant role. Some of them had their own individual plot threads which as much if not more fraught than Giles and Aaron. Unfortunately, I was overwhelmed by the amount of combined angst and as a result my reactions became dulled. It seemed as if every horrible result to being gay or lesbian occurred in this story. Even those moments, which, I thought should have been heart-wrenching didn’t have the impact because of the over saturation. I also thought the sudden connections to other characters and mysterious back-stories involving those connections were a bit too coincidental and used as a way to tie up plot threads.

While I had some issues with Fever Pitch I also enjoyed a lot of it and ended up feeling like the central romance was a good one. I really liked the music theme and how it can heal, refresh, and transport emotion. Watching Aaron and Giles start to learn who they were and deal with adversity was good. The way certain people came together during a variety of different situations in support was also touching. And as a Walter and Kelly fan, seeing them again was great. I just wish Aaron and Giles’ relationship had less competing outside events so I was able to focus on them and their journey.

I give Fever Pitch a B/B-

**BP Note: Don’t forget to check out the late post today to see what Heidi Cullinan has to say and to enter for a chance to win a couple of giveaways.**

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