Written by: Sarah Grimm
Wild Rose Press
Avail: in print & eBook
Grimm fashions a story that will pull on your heartstrings. Isabeau Montgomery is a child prodigy. By the age of twelve, she's an accomplished pianist, but when she loses her mother in a car accident, her world shatters into a thousand pieces. Can Noah tear down the battlements that surround her heart?
"After Midnight" is set in Long Island. Noah Clark is the front man for Black Phoenix, a rock and roll band recording a demo for a come back record. Noah ventures into the nearby bar and finds Isabeau. Izzy intrigues him like no other woman he's meet, but she's cold and aloof and friendlier with his friend, Dominic. If it's one thing Noah has though, it's patience and persistence. Noah continues to visit the bar and wears Izzy down. Slowly, she lets down a wall or two and allows herself to get to know Noah.
Noah discovers Izzy has a down on his luck step-brother who drowns his sorrows in booze. Izzy can play piano, but chooses not to. Izzy also has to deal with a jealous pianist, Gregory Howard. She also hates to be touched. All these clues set Noah on fire to unlock the chains surrounding her heart.
Izzy reluctantly admits to herself that Noah has gotten under her skin. When he loses his grandfather, she travels to England to support him. There's no denying the sparks of attraction between then anymore. Izzy and Noah make love, but when a series of accidents begin to look more than accidental, Noah realizes he's fallen for Isabeau, but can he convince her what he feels for her is real?
Grimm pulls the reader into the story with a gripping look at Isabeau's world. Noah storms into her heart just as he storms into the bar, setting the stage for a powerful tug of emotions between each of them.
Grimm's writing style is easy to read, but clipped at times, almost reflective of Izzy's clipped heart. The dialogue captures the rich authenticity of the city which Grimm paints with skilled ease. Suspense blends effortlessly against a contemporary backdrop leaving the reader feeling the same restlessness that Izzy does.
The characterization is the most enjoyable part of the novel. Izzy is haunted by demons that continue to fester inside her. Loss and disappointment have forced her not to play the piano, but Noah challenges her. His presence eases her pain.
Noah has his own issues. He's fought off a drinking problem, but he's never been in love before.
The novel's love scenes are sensual as well as tasteful, embodying the fierce intensity of Izzy and Noah's emotions. "After Midnight" will take the reader on an achingly romantic story and will resonate long after the last page.
Reviewed by: S. Burkhart