Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Do you ever read a romance book or books and wonder if there is something seriously wrong with you because you love the darkness and angst of said book? I oftentimes think there is something a little bit broken in me because the angstier (yes, not really a word…but so), the happier I become. I think it has to do with the precision by which a writer must write to achieve that level of feeling in his/her reader. I mean this with no disrespect, but I think it is harder to write angst than rom-com. That’s just my belief, and I won’t judge anyone who will disagree with me.
Concerto by Skye Warren is the type of book (like her other stories from Tanglewood) that delivers on the soul-wrecking, delicious angst that readers like me pine for. This is the second book in the North Security series, and it continues to follow Samantha and Liam. In Overture, Samantha and Liam embrace their forbidden feelings and consummate their lust for each other. At the end of Overture, Samantha has left to go on tour, but, more importantly, to find her independence from Liam, after he has pushed her away for her own protection. In Concerto, Samantha is recently arrived in Tanglewood for the start of the concert tour, and she is adapting to life independent from Liam. However, every day is a struggle without him. Shortly after arriving in town, there is a threat to her security, and Liam arrives to protect her from the threat. As they struggle with their lust and feelings for each other, each pushes the other away at various times, creating so much delicious tension that the reader is compelled to read to see its resolution.
This you will not find wholly in Concerto, however. If you are looking for the end-of-book HEA in Concerto, it isn’t here. Instead, we are left with a huge, life changing cliffhanger for Samantha and indirectly for Liam. I believe the next book, Sonata, ends the trilogy, and hopefully, it leads us to a HEA for Liam and Samantha because these two are, by definition, tortured.
Obviously, Samantha’s torture cannot compare to the tortured mind of Liam. In fact, there are so many times when I want to yell at the man to get a therapist. Call me insensitive, but the depths of his guilt create the thick, high wall between him and Samantha. While she is the junior to his senior, she surprisingly carries an emotional depth that will save Liam from his “wells.” However, as the reader, we have to endure the depth of these wells to get tidbits of connection and love.
What I love about this book so much, besides the angsty moments between Liam and Samantha, is Warren’s brilliance in telling Liam and Samantha’s stories. For one, the titles of these books are intentional to understanding the general premise of each book. A concerto in musical terms often “highlights a solo instrument against the background of a full orchestra. […] In a concerto, a piano, violin, flute, or other instrument plays solo parts that are backed up or highlighted by an orchestra” (vocabulary.com). This obviously connects with Samantha’s entree into the independent life. While she is seemingly in “solo,” she is surrounded by a group (Liam, Josh, Bethany, Harry, her father, etc.) who add different levels of support (or hindrance) to her solo life. Her life becomes the actual concerto.
Additionally, the image of wells in the story illustrates how Liam’s past still informs his present (and possibly his future). He can never escape the literal well from his youth because he believes, in loving Samantha, she becomes his figurative well. While he seemingly loves her, the well continues to dirty him, and by extension, he will sully Samantha. So…he engages in a fraught relationship with her, one where he at once needs her and repels her. This image is powerful and completely realized in Liam’s mind in association with Samantha. So so brilliant on Warren’s part.
Finally, Warren’s way in creating this story (along with her other books) shows her ability to keep her reader guessing. There is a BIG revelation near the end of this story that breaks open possibility for the next book. I would love to say more, but I don’t want to spoil it. The genius behind this revelation turns this book from a forbidden, darker romance into one that seems more romantic suspense. There is more to Samantha than originally thought, and I imagine it will be an explosive realization in Sonata.
There is something so delicious about an author like Skye Warren when you realize her ability to craft tortured souls into a romance that keeps you guessing is nothing short of genius. She holds the reader accountable to supposition about a story by offering them twists and turns at every page. As her reader, you can never be quite sure that all is as it seems, and her newest book, Concerto, is no different in this sense. When I ended this book, I was left hungry for more of Liam and Samantha’s story. In fact, I flew through the pages of this book. Thankfully, we get it in Sonata, but if I’ve read enough Warren books to know, there will be HEA, but it will still have a bit of a melancholy to it, angst in all of its realized glory.
I simply cannot wait for the final book in this trilogy.