A marriage of convenience to a brilliant musician? Why not, if it’s to ensure that he stays in the US and can perform in your uncle’s Broadway play? It’s the perfect basis for a great book, with many layers of plots to entertain. I loved this book with just a couple of reservations, that I will disclose later on.
Holland is fascinated with this busker guitarist in a subway stop. For months she’s been stalking him, making unnecessary trips just to pass by the station and listen to him perform. One day she gathers her courage to leave him a tip and praise his music and when he raises his face and looks at her, she’s hooked even more. With green eyes, beautiful face and virtuoso music coming from his fingers, he’s her dream crush, nicknamed Jack for lack of more information.
Holland is the six child in her parent’s marriage, and as such she was sort of lost in the children shuffle. Her mother’s youngest brother Seth and his husband Robert fell in love with the baby and decided to help raise her. They had a close hand in her upbringing and they are now her favorite persons in the world. Likewise, she’s the daughter they always wanted to have. Her uncle Jeff is a financial analyst and her uncle Robert is a musical prodigy and composes musical plays. They moved to New York so Robert could fulfill his dream job, writing and directing a musical play. Holland followed them and they are helping pay for her apartment and found her a job. She works at her uncle Robert’s theatre and when the principal violinist has a tantrum and leaves the show, she knows just the person to fill that position, her busker crush guitarist. She drags her uncle to listen to him play and the cast on “Jack’s” future is cast.
Jack, whose real name is Calvin, aces the audition but there is one obstacle: he’s an illegal immigrant. Then Holland has the brilliant idea to enable him to stay and work: get married. Calvin is Irish, with a lovely accent, lovely body and beautiful face. He’s such a brilliant guitarist that Holland feels the compulsion to help both her uncle and Calvin. Living with such a hottie and nice person would not be a chore. So she makes the crazy proposition to Calvin and he accepts because performing in Robert’s play is his life ambition.
This marriage starts as a convenience marriage but then it turns into so much more. As their feelings deepen, and their marriage turns into a real marriage, Holland is assailed with so many feelings. She sees her uncles achieve success in life, and she sees Calvin finally doing what he was born to do, and she suddenly starts questioning her place in their life. As her uncle Jeff said once: “she sees herself as a supporting character, even in her own life story”. She has an MFA in writing and she used to write all the time, it was as necessary as breathing. But after she graduated, her creativity left her, and she felt like she was just existing, being a witness to other’s lives. Also, she has doubts about Calvin’s feelings, and several instances where the past intervenes increase that uncertainty.
There’s not a lot of sex, thank you authors, but there’s lots of feelings, heartfelt and warmhearted. I loved Holland’s relation with her uncles and even more their love and devotion to their niece. Even though Robert is her uncle by marriage, he’s the one she identifies more with, because even though she’s not a musician, she lives music, understands it and loves it. She’s generous, loves to help, and is insecure about her place in life. Calvin is a bit more obscure as a character. He’s lovely with Holland, and prodigiously talented, a Juilliard graduate, and very grateful to Holland and her uncle for the opportunity. Some of his actions leave a lot to be desired, and thus one questions if he’s feeling gratitude and lust, or real love.
And this is where I have one reservation. If there had been chapters with his POV, the reader could have a better understanding about his thoughts and feelings. My other reservation was that the end came suddenly and I was expecting an epilogue. I wanted to see what was done about Lulu, who was supposed to be Holland’s best friend but was sometimes her worst enemy. But these were small reservations and the whole of the book was fabulous, entertaining, riveting, at times hilarious, and all over fantastic.