Author: Emma Scott
Title: In Harmony
Genre: New Adult Romance
Cover Design: Melissa Panio-Petersen
Release Date: 13th February, 2018
The root of all madness is an unbearable truth…
At seventeen, Willow Holloway’s life was torn apart. The happy, driven girl is gone, and she is left wracked by post-traumatic stress her body remembers even if she does not. When her father suddenly uproots the family from their posh penthouse in New York City to the tiny town of Harmony, Indiana, Willow becomes more untethered and lost under the weight of her secret. On a whim, she auditions for a part in the community theater’s production of Hamlet and unexpectedly wins the role of Ophelia—the girl who is undone by madness, and her love of Hamlet…
Isaac Pierce is from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ The town bad boy. Girls pine for his attention and guys are in awe of him. That he’s an acting prodigy only adds to his charisma. Isaac utterly disappears into his characters; the stage is the only place he feels safe from his own traumatic home life. He wants nothing more than to escape to Broadway or Hollywood, and leave Harmony behind for good.
No one can play Hamlet but Isaac, and when the director pairs him with Willow in acting class, they clash again and again—neither willing to open their hearts to anyone. But clashing leads to breaking, breaking leads to the spilling of terrible secrets, and soon Isaac and Willow find Shakespeare’s words mirroring their lives. When they are cruelly torn apart, neither know how this play will end—with madness and heartache? Or healing, love, and the discovery of who they are truly meant to be.
In Harmony is a standalone NEW ADULT love story, and is intended for readers 18 and up. PLEASE NOTE, this book contains sensitive material such as physical abuse, and the aftermath of sexual assault (off the page). Reader discretion is advised.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse
Scott is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and although her writing is just as expressive in this new adult novel as in previous publications, the tone set here is completely different. Not for one moment did the descriptive scenes distract me, every detail having its importance. Just enough was held back, the right amount of backstory intricacies unravelled at a perfect pace…and I loved it! Now then; for all you Shakespearean lovers, you’re going to be in for a real treat. The characters’ interpretation and director’s perspective in a play well-known to many of us, threw a new light on how the younger generation feel about such works. Scenarios reflecting truths too close to home for the protagonists’ liking was cause for concern, harsh real life issues aired with sensitivity pulled on my heartstrings, and the build-up of ominous tragedy gnawed at my nerves.
“The play is really intense, you know? I think it’s clouding my feelings. It’s getting hard to tell reality from fiction.”
I couldn’t help but fall for Willow Harlow. Of late, she hasn’t been herself. Holding back a dark secret is difficult but she has more than one reason for doing so. And then she meets Isaac Pearce. There is nothing picayunish about their relationship. On the same wavelength, no words were needed for them to know the other’s sufferance. What I really liked about their story is it’s not your typical bad boy on the wrong side of the track meets good girl from the right side of town. There is so much more depth and anguish involved. I’m having trouble putting into words my feelings for Isaac, and perhaps it’s just as well since I’d be spoiling it for you if I did. All I can say is the cards that were stacked against him had me wondering whether his aspirations and fortitude to create a better life under such unbearably tough circumstances would make or break him.
“I see you, Isaac Pearce,” “Time to share your wisdom with the newbie.”
And then Willow. Ooh my, I cried for this young soul so torn between love, its boundaries, its sacrifices and the pain she wore from day to day but tried so hard to hide. Don’t doubt for a second that the moral aspect of this story won’t affect you because it will. I wished for a lot of things to happen in this book. I got really upset with people close to her. People who should have been protecting her, whose decisions were erroneous, brought out the worst in me and I can honestly say doing some serious Kindle bashing even crossed my mind. Her bestie, Angie. Wow! Loved her crazy T-shirts, her humour, honesty and her support. We all need the likes of her in our lives! Marty is adorable and without him, the play would have died a death as did nearly all of its characters! I have to mention Isaac’s mate. Here, the author brought home the irrelevance of age, the importance of respect. No matter how old you are, when you hit it off with someone, make sure you nurture their friendship.
“You’re going to save the world Angie.”
Apart from being awestruck by the character development which is nothing less than magnificent, the author’s woven a plot around another exceptionally complicated one and it’s worked to perfection! Narrated from a dual point of view in past tense is most definitely my fave storytelling technique so quite honestly, what more could I have asked for? Quotes! Oh my, far too many so I’ve stuck to a few which made me sit back and think. The likelihood In Harmony will make you shed a tear or three is strong. Beautifully written, the author’s narrative is a heartbreaking tale of forgiveness, of strength, of unconditional love. I hope you enjoy Willow and Isaac’s story as much as I did. Bravo Ms Scott!
“I’m so…not into being with someone right now,” Willow said with a nervous lilt to her words. “Not for a while, anyway.”
I heard a whisper on the breeze, or ever again. A heaviness in her eyes hinted she had lost something and had almost given up trying to find it.
She hasn’t given up, I thought, a fierce admiration welling in me. That’s why she’s doing the play. To find it again.
In that moment, I vowed to try to cut out all the egotistical bullshit and jealousy over Justin. The dance was out of range now anyway. I couldn’t ask her to go even if I wanted to. Which I didn’t. My job was to help her find what she was looking for in Hamlet, however I could. Even as it dented my eagerness to get the hell out of Harmony.
Willow shielded her eyes from the sun and squinted at me. “So what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Do you like anyone?” she asked, her voice a half tone higher than usual. She laughed. “That’s such a high school thing to ask.”
“No,” I said. “If all goes to plan, I’m leaving Harmony, remember? Stupid to start something now.”
“Sure. Makes sense.”
A silence fell.
“Yeah, so I probably won’t go to the dance,” Willow said. “I’m not good in that kind of situation anymore.”
“What kind of situation?”
She shook her head. “Never mind. I should get back.”
Willow started to scoot down off the block. I held my hand out to her to help. She hesitated for a fraction of a second and then took it. I held my other hand out and she took that too. I steadied her as she hopped down and then we were standing face to face. Close enough I could see her pale blue eyes had lighter shards of blue in them, like a topaz. Close enough to smell the sweetness of her breath—coffee tinged with sugar. Close enough to dance if we wanted.
“Thanks,” Willow said, gazing up at me.
“Sure,” I said.
I still held her hands. She didn’t let go.
“So,” she breathed, still not moving.
I glanced down at our hands. I hadn’t touched something this soft and good in ages. The sleeve of her coat bunched up and I spied a black mark on the inside of her forearm, close to her wrist. Willow drew in a breath as I turned her hand over. An X, about the size of a quarter, was stark on her pale skin.
She tugged her hands away. “I really need to get back.”
Every instinct cried out to take her hand again, to ask her what the X meant. To lick my thumb and erase it off her skin. I didn’t know what it meant but the sight of it made my stomach feel heavy.
“I doodle when I’m bored. I told you that.” Her voice was sharp but her smile wobbled. “Let’s go.”
We walked the short distance back to town wordlessly. Back in front of the theater, Willow shouldered her bag and glanced around. “Thanks for today. I think Martin would be happy with our progress.”
“I do too.”
God, would he, I thought.
“So, I guess I’ll see you Monday?” she said.
“You have a ride home?”
“Oh, uh…” She still wouldn’t meet my eyes. “I was thinking of walking.”
“To Emerson Hills?” I said. “That’s a mile and a half and it’s getting dark soon.”
She raised her brows. “I’m not allowed to walk in the dark?”
“You’re allowed,” I said, “but I don’t want you to.”
Emma Scott is a writer, marathon runner, and caffeine addict, who lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has two smart, feisty little girls, a super-supportive husband, and is a demonstrated fan of the Oxford comma. She is also an unabashed Star Wars geek and comic book enthusiast who fell into romance novels when a writing contest prompt turned a 1000-word romantic story into a full-blown novel. She also writes epic fantasy that suffers an epic word count.
She hopes you enjoy her work, encourages readers to leave feedback, and thinks it’s amusing to write about herself in the third person. And if she has a driving force that fuels her work, it’s that love always wins.