Haley Reese is going back home to Houston and she’s dreading this trip. She volunteers as a mentor to young musicians at an annual festival, and the longer she’s been doing it, the more she feels like a fraud. It’s been years since the web videos that made her sort-of famous first came out, and she hasn’t done anything else to pursue the career in music she’s always wanted. Things start looking up when she shares a plane ride with Oliver Cabrera, music prodigy, rock star, and the reason why she picked up an instrument in the first place.
Oliver Cabrera hasn’t called any place “home” since he started touring professionally in his teens, but Houston is as close to it as any. He’s also nearly broke, his career just about over. When he gets the invitation to mentor at the Breathe Music Festival again, he decides, what the hell, he should finally show up. He meets Haley, Hot Piano Girl herself, and finds her own fear of failure might be easier to fix than his own.
Playing Autumn was first released in 2013 in the Rock Gods of Romance ebook anthology. This is a revised, expanded, and steamier edition.
It was like a dream come true for Haley Reese. Finding herself on a plane sitting beside her favourite singer, Oliver Cabrera, on flight her back home to Houston. And more that, they were both on their way to spend an autumn weekend for the Breath Music Festival to mentor aspiring students in the art of singing and performance.
Haley Reese is a 22 year old accomplished musician, whose piano tutorial videos online got a lot of views. But despite this, she has a different sense of accomplishment. To her, it is bagging record deals, having a big fan base and basically being famous. And because of this feeling of lack of accomplishment, she feels unworthy of being a mentor for the Breathe Academy.
Growing up with musician parents. Oliver Cabrera was the winner of Tomorrow’s Talent. Despite the fact that his career is falling apart, he wants to be something contrary to what his producers want him to be. And he’s hoping that a weekend mentoring at the Breath Academy might just set him back at his right path.
Haley and Oliver, I love them together, and I especially related to their personal issues. While both of them have this crazy will to succeed, achievement for Haley is to become something according to what the world demands her to be, Oliver, on the other hand, refuses to follow the dictation of his producers. I love Oliver for his courage to know what he really wants and for showing Haley that living and teaching music is not a bad life because “Setting a kid on the right path is an awesome job too”.
I also liked Victoria, Haley’s ultimate best friend. I say ultimate because only a best friend would be crazy enough to fly to another part of the continent just to accompany a crazier best friend for a concert (who’s the craziest between them, then?). There’s also Logan, Haley’s ex and Cass, the other friend who keeps bugging Haley to “find balance” and live in the real world. I loved them both too, just because their nagging better highlighted Haley’s victory for choosing her passion in the end.
Overall, I loved Playing Autumn. On the surface, it is a cute love story about two musicians falling in love. But it is also about music, and the value of teaching to students. Students are the susceptible kind and it takes great teachers to lead them on the right path. But the theme that I loved to the most (because I went through the same thing) is that it is about knowing what you want, be who you are and defining your own personal standard of achievement. Achievement is not measured in the size of a check book or the number of fans that follow you around. Achievement is when, at the end of the day, after everything you’ve done, you can say that you are happy with your life.
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Mina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance and young adult novellas. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a master’s degree in Development Communication, put to good use in her work as trainer and content management consultant. Mina lives in Metro Manila, Philippines, with her husband and daughter.
She finds inspiration in the lives and experiences of other people, so the answer to “Is this story based on you?” is always, always “No.”