Near the end of the Nineteenth Century, Dylan Rutledge has two obsessions: composing music and Laurence Northcliff, his history master at the Bede School for Young Gentlemen. When all others turn against Dylan for the wild and unorthodox music he composes, Northcliff is the only one who encourages his dream. The two fall deeply in love, but it is a forbidden love in England, punishable by long prison terms at hard labor.
But Dylan’s passion will not be put down. He alienates himself from family, friends, and country when he moves to Paris to study music and live openly as Northcliff’s lover. Although he finds happiness in the arms of Northcliff, he pays a heavy price being out, even in Paris. At every turn, his career is fraught with disappointment, rejection, and eventually a devastating loss that shreds his soul. Can his music bring him back from the brink? Can the love of a man be the strength he needs to survive?
This book is a joy to read. The story is well structured, the characters are compelling, the prose carries the reader along in a dream. I knew before opening the cover page that Ruth Sims has a gift for storytelling. I found that out in her book, The Phoenix. But Counterpoint is far and away a superior, more thoughtful read. Sims has created something rare, an absorbing read that takes the reader through the entire range of emotions, and then back again.
Does it have flaws? There is the occasional head hopping. There are several opportunities where showing, rather than telling, would strengthened the read. There are other places where the dialog is too on-the-nose. But these minor issues go unnoticed as the reader wraps these characters around himself like a cloak on a cold night, and feels their passion and pain. Upon finishing the last page I wanted to stand, clap my hands and yell, “BRAVO.”
This story was several years coming to print, and well worth the wait. If you’re looking for the kind of hot erotic scenes that have become so cliché in mm fiction today, then keep looking. But for anyone who enjoys passionate characters struggling with basic human needs, alluring prose, and historical detail, then I highly recommend this read.