*This review is for the revised edition of Symphony of Sorrow and Joy. To read our thoughts on the original novel, released 2017, click here.
★★★★★ Rachel Trent is a young writer working for a tech magazine in the States when, one day, she falls quite literally into the arms of a handsome Welsh violinist named Nicholas. At first, both Rachel and Nicholas are guarded, the pair of them wounded by lovers who repeatedly let them down in the past. But there is no denying the start of something beautiful between them, and the couple’s initial trepidation soon gives way to unabashedly amorous overtures. While Nicholas’ stint with the local philharmonic orchestra is only temporary, the couple works together to find a way to make their relationship work, despite the overwhelming odds stacked against them.
Rachel and Nicholas’ relationship is the sort that feels predetermined and fated to be; though the couple faces no shortage of obstacles standing in the way of their happiness (including strenuous work duties, strong-minded family members, and about a metric ton of emotional baggage from past relationships) there is never a doubt in the reader’s mind that these two young lovers will end up together. The sentiment is even echoed by both characters later on in the novel, where they describe how “right” things had felt as far back as the day they met. McGowan’s book is a gorgeous red rose of a romance: appealing from the start, its allure only increases the closer one gets to it. Layer by layer, petal by petal, the author peels back her characters’ defenses and allows their love to blossom into something truly special.