Release Reviews: All Note Long: Annabeth Albert

All Note Long (Perfect Harmony #3)
Annabeth Albert
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Released August 2, 2016
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Giving true love a spin...

Michelin Moses is a country music star on the rise. With a hit single under his Texas-sized belt buckle and a sold-out concert tour underway, his childhood dreams of making it big are finally coming true. But there’s one thing missing—a promise to his dying mother that he’d find it—him—when the time was right. With a little luck, he won’t have to wait too long...

Lucky Ramirez is a hunky boy toy who dances at The Broom Closet, one of West Hollywood’s hottest gay bars. He loves what he does, and he’s good at it—almost as good as he is at playing dumb when he spots Michelin Moses at the bar. What happens next is off the charts—and keeps Michelin coming back for more. He’s just not sure it’s the right move for his career. But if Lucky gets his way, Michelin will get Lucky—and no matter how the media spins it, neither of them will be faking it...

All Note Long is the third novel in the Perfect Harmony series, but it is the first I have read—reading it as a standalone worked just fine. It is also the third novel I’ve read by Annabeth Albert. As much as I liked Status Update and Beta Test, this one is certainly my favorite of the three I’ve read by her.

Lucky Ramirez is a go-go dancer at one of West Hollywood’s hottest clubs. He’s not a sex worker; he dances because he loves doing it and is working toward the big break he needs to launch his dance career to bigger and better things. While dancing for a birthday party at the club one night, he can’t help but be attracted to the hot, shy, and socially awkward stud the whole group has been daring into stuffing tips down his shorts all night. Michelin Moses left the popular band he started with some friends as a teenager and is now one of the hottest country stars in the country, about to release his second album in the genre. Being gay is something he works to keep from becoming public knowledge because he fears it would alienate his conservative fan base and jeopardize his career doing the one thing he truly loves. But while incognito at the birthday party of one of the young musicians he mentored on a reality TV show, he’s fixated on the sexy dancer and his moves. Unfortunately, someone recognizes him, and before he knows it, his secret is all over the gossip pages of the internet. His publicist is all about damage control, not just to protect him but the record label as well, and her suggestion is to convince Lucky to pretend to be Michelin’s boyfriend long enough for the worst to blow over. As much as Michelin wants it to be real, he can’t risk destroying his career. But for a man who sings about feelings every day, nothing can ever be that simple.

While I found both Lucky and Michelin to be great characters, there is a lot about Michelin in particular that I can relate to, perhaps because I’m also a middle-aged gay man who grew up in a relatively conservative small town. As the story progresses, we learn many of the events of Michelin’s past that have formed who he is now. For the most part, it boils down to things that have fostered insecurity about many things, particularly relationships. In spite of being adored in the public eye, he leads a lonely life and believes that he cannot be good enough for someone else. His career, then, is all he has. And because he’s part of the undeniably homophobic country music industry, he’s essentially at the mercy of his record label. But even more than that, he’s worried about his fans thinking his music is part of some agenda. In spite of his past, though, he is a selfless man with a big heart.

Lucky, on the other hand, has been out of the closet since early high school, so he doesn’t care what people think about his being gay. But being the baby of his family has caused him to take pride in being self-sufficient as an adult. He refuses to take help from anyone—he doesn’t even allow people to buy meals for him. This leads to a good deal of tension as far as the fake relationship is concerned. Combine that with the fact that he is adamant about not being for sale, he refuses to act on his growing feelings for Michelin as long as he’s being paid for the role of fake boyfriend. Yep, good sexual tension builds up because of this, because neither he nor Michelin can deny the attraction that was apparent from the very start. Regardless of the terms of their arrangement, both want more. Eventually they get there, and once they do, it’s not only hot but quickly becomes full of all sorts of the best kind of feels.

The setting of the story clearly lends itself to dealing with some social issues. Without giving out spoilers, I will say that the events that take place once Michelin is outed, both those of the public and of his publicist and record label, felt very realistic. In fact, they sounded vaguely familiar to the real-life situation around certain bands’ public disapproval of the Iraq War several years back, so for someone like me who knows essentially nothing about the politics within the music industry, I was convinced.

Romances involving music are often among my favorites, and I can say All Note Long is no exception. There’s just something about the power of music to express feelings that might not be so easy to express in just words that appeals to me. And I love being able to feel the music in a novel, so when an author does grand romantic gestures through music, it almost always works for me. And in this case, does it ever. Brava, Ms. Albert. Brava.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of All Note Long in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Michelin Moses is a popular crossover country music star. He is quiet, reserved, and tries to keep a clean homegrown image. He is also known for being a judge, mentor, and support for new talent on reality shows and has made friends with some of the gay contestants. But he is generally lonely and does not have many attachments.

Lucky Rain is a vibrant outspoken, sexy, quick-witted, hispanic Go Go Dancer. He's out, proud, and does what he has to do to work towards his goals. He has a large, close family and big group of friends.

They meet in a gay club at a party for one of Michelin's proteges. After some completely awkward flirting and ogling of the private dancer, sparks fly. But one interaction and misunderstanding has huge consequences for both of them.

Michelin finds himself getting more attention that could impact his public image. He is at the mercy of the label's publicists and before they know it, Michelin and Lucky are thrown into an unexpected situation that is manufactured for publicity. Eventually their closeness and sexual tension become harder to deny. But is it all for show or is there a chance at it becoming more real?

Michelin and Lucky have many outside obstacles--public scrutiny and social media, homophobia in the country music industry, demands of the record label, and career differences. Personally, they also have fears, insecurities, are stubborn, and have a hard time being vulnerable. Michelin needs to protect his image and new record, but not every one is supportive of a gay singing cowboy. He just wants to sing and not be a pioneer for a cause. But in refusing to stand up and fight will he lose his chance at happiness?

I liked the differences in their personalities with Michelin being more reserved and Lucky more outgoing. They managed to balance and complement each other. They traded control at times. Michelin needed words, praise, and emotions. While Lucky craved touches and actions. Michelin could close himself off and adapt an easy-going and charming facade as a diversion, but his emotions and fears ran deep and kept him from grasping at what he really wanted. He was giving and sweet, and wanted to be loved, but was so scared of not being worthy and being labeled. Lucky was proud, stubborn, independent, and was determined not to be a kept man. But Lucky really just wanted Michelin to fight and claim him as his own. But everything about them was a risk and could have consequences.

This is really about Michelin's journey towards finding himself, being vulnerable, trusting, and being comfortable in his own skin. He never wanted to do anything but be a singer, but he found out he could both inspire people or anger them. He could be a bit frustrating at times because he took a passive approach in order to not make more waves in the industry and let others make decisions for him. But that was one of the major conflicts so I had to remember to just be patient and that some situations take more time to navigate. But all along I kept waiting for him to find his way and make his own stand.

It is also Lucky's story about living on his own terms, following his dreams, but letting go of pride in order to truly trust someone. He was bold and ready to take on the world, but had so much pride and would not beg for what he needed. I think the author did a good job developing the characters and their issues. Their chemistry was intense and their connection was easy to see even if they had a hard time admitting it. There was quite a bit of confusion and push-and-pull.

I did not read the first two books in this series, but I was easily able to read it as a stand-alone. But the couples from the first two books do make appearances. I enjoyed the dichotomy of the country music and dance club scenes. It was funny, sweet, passionate, and emotional. I liked the tweets in the beginning of each chapter highlighting negative and positive posts in social media surrounding this couple, as well as getting both of their points of view.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Treble Maker (Perfect Harmony #1)
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Released August 4, 2015
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On Perfect Harmony, the ambitious competitors heat things up on stage and off…

Cody Rivers is determined to be a rock star, but couch-surfing between bar shows gets old fast. Joining an a cappella group for a new singing competition show could be his last chance at real fame—unless the college boy from the heart of the country messes it up for him. Lucas Norwood is everything gothy, glittery Cody is not—conservative, clean-cut, and virginal. But when a twist in the show forces them together, even the sweetest songs get steamy as the attraction between them lights up the stage. Lucas wants to take it slow, but Cody’s singing a different tune—and this time it maybe a love song…

Love Me Tenor (Perfect Harmony #2)
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Released February 16, 2016
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There’s no way he’ll shake this off…

Trevor Daniels is feeling aimless. A recent college grad, he’s not sure what to do with his useless degree, and his family all but abandoned him after he revealed the truth about himself. But a friend’s suggestion that he take his chances on a reality show aimed at finding the next big boy band strikes a chord with him—until the show’s producers convince him to act like he’s in a relationship with a guy who’s not at all his type. It isn’t exactly love at first sight for Jalen Smith either—but lust just might push them in an unexpected direction. If only their secrets weren’t even more twisted than their sheets, threatening to cost them the win—and each other…
Annabeth Albert 
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Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency


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