Prelude - Shira Anthony, Venona Keyes A Hearts On Fire Review FOUR & A HALF STARS-- "Prelude", book 4 of the Blue Notes series by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes features musician orphan main characters, violinist Alex Bishop and conductor David Somers. They were introduced in book #1 as a couple and we finally get their story in this book. Thankfully this series does not need to be read in order, each book can be read as standalones. I only read book #1 of the Blue Notes series. But I can say "Prelude" skates perfect figure eights compared to the first book. It might be my favorite but trust me, I'll read books #2-3 sooner than later. The words from this book, they were beautiful. I heard its music the entire time, a literary symphony played through each chapter. And Alex and David, they were instruments, their music fine as solos but together...just necessary to make the music complete as was their love.Tattooed, rock star-like Alex Bishop, to me, he was like a violin, the instrument that he played. But the violin can cross so many genres and can be a great accompaniment. Such as Alex. I enjoyed him but all his interactions with David from their first glance to their last words, he's great! He could have let all of the hurt and pain of his life (being an orphan, being abused, being homeless, etc) change him into someone bitter or worse a statistic. But he persevered and accomplished so much. He was a good man but not touching the fantastical white knight vibe. He was a good man but an even better man with David. David, somber David, he reminded me of the string bass - deep, resonating and touching. So lonely David was. Just imaging how he was raised, how cold his only parental figure was, not even being able to outright grieve *shakes head* His pain touched me. Don't get me wrong, at times, he could be downright cold and mean. Even knowing why he's so messed up and antisocial did not excuse his ways when he used them to hurt others. But he's such a well written character with great depth. I want to shake and embrace him.David is a maestro of music but Alex is a maestro of David. And David is one difficult piece to attempt to play. Both men are equals in a number of ways - they're orphans, had rough childhoods (economically different), share a passion for music. The adults they became and they way they perceived the world was vastly different. Insecurity is a harmful emotion for David. It picked away at any semblance of self esteem he has. He tried so hard to be void any emotions that when he began to feel, I felt along with him. (And those insecure, loner main characters, when they fall in love, oh man, you're pretty much guaranteed an excellent love story when written right...and this was!) Visibly these men were opposites, wild child Alex and staid David but I enjoyed how they made it work.The authors include great backgrounds (Chicago, Paris, anyone?), supportive non-bitchy, strong women in both men's lives and great characters. The writing was on par, saturated with emotion. The romance between Alex and David, thoroughly believable and wonderfully paced (no insta-love here, it's a slow burner). I devoured these words and was sad to see it end. But it ended at the right spot and delivered a well deserved HEA.This quote sums the feeling of this book:"Slow, plaintive, utterly romantic, and full of angst."I recommend this book for lovers of words, great music appreciation, and delicious, adult main characters.