★★★ Symphony of Sorrow and Joy by Bridget McGowan is an easy-read romance novel about Rachel Trent and Nicholas Keating. The novel begins with Rachel, heartbroken from her lack of fulfilling love in her life and recently failed relationship. Every guy she meets ends up leaving her. Rachel happens to fall in the snow, and is helped to her feet by a handsome gentleman. This man is Nicholas Keating, a famous violin player. As the two grow closer, she is skeptical of him and unsure how long he will be around. Although Nicholas’ talent in music, his Welsh accent, and his caring attitude are attractive to Rachel, she struggles to let go of the insecurity around his long term commitment. The two fall in love quickly, and within a span of a couple months, are meeting one another’s family and exchanging “I love you”. Jean, Nicholas’ sister, does not approve of the two’s romance and does her best to make sure Rachel knows it. Rachel takes on Jean, choosing to confront her about her dislike, and the two are able to have it resolved. As both Nicholas and Rachel’s romance deepens, and Rachel’s trust in Nicholas and his commitment to the long term begins to build. The two engage and marry.
Bridget McGowan offers a solid romance story, but the story lacks depth. The love between Nicholas and Rachel is cute and fun, but the amount of emotional baggage from both characters is breezed over or quickly resolved. Also, the change in character POV is sudden; the book starts out with eighty pages of Rachel in first person, and without warning, switches to Nicholas at the start of a new section. The story then inconsistently flip-flops between the two for the rest of the novel. Nicholas’ sections do not add any background information or any thrill, but rather confusion as to why his POV is included. Overall, this story is well-paced and captures the difficulty of falling in love after many failed attempts and broken hearts.
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