COUNTERPOINT: DYLAN’S STORY by Ruth Sims
Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story by Ruth Sims
Reviewed by Cassie
Dylan Rutledge, a student at The Venerable Bede School for Young Gentlemen, is headstrong and arrogant. His only concern is music, which is an obsession that leaves no time for studying or anything else. Then, after a stunt he pulls in the name of his music, he is sent away from the school in disgrace. Only the intercession of one of his instructors, Laurence Northcliff, allows Dylan to return to school. With Laurence’s encouragement and tutorage, Dylan’s academic achievement improves—mainly because Dylan is in love with his teacher.
Dylan’s desire for music, and for Laurence, is not at all what his family had in mind for him. Determined to make his own way in life, Dylan does what he’s always wanted to do. Unfortunately, fate has things in store for Dylan that could destroy his dreams forever.
Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story is one of those rare books that achieves a finely wrought balance between tragedy and triumph, despair and love, anxiety and elation, all without tilting too heavily in favor of any of them. Like one of Dylan Rutledge’s musical compositions, all of the elements are necessary to get to the finale. At the beginning of the story, Dylan is both arrogant and naïve. He’s convinced that he’s meant to compose, and that once he’s gotten his break everything will fall into place with ease. He’s immature enough not to be terribly fearful of the consequences of loving men, and falls for Laurence Northcliff unreservedly. Laurence, older and more sensible, doesn’t want to risk Dylan’s future. I fell for Laurence myself. He’s just the sort of man Dylan needs: steady, loving, patient, and full of belief in Dylan’s talent. He tries to be all Dylan needs after Dylan’s father reacts in the expected way to his son’s disobedience and the rumors about him, and succeeds in many ways.
Of course Dylan’s family’s disapproval is not the only conflict they face. Dylan’s difficulties with his art increase, and Laurence develops a problem of his own. The entire first part of the book is lovely, full of sweet promise that slowly turns bittersweet, and then just bitter. I freely admit to bawling my eyes out over a large section of Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story. Several parts were so wrenchingly emotional I couldn’t help myself. Part of me couldn’t believe Ruth Sims would be so audacious as to do what she did with her plot and characters (which I won’t spoil here), yet I kept reading and never regretted doing so.
The second part of the book is just as emotional as the first, in a different way. In the aftermath of tragedy, Dylan has to find his way back to life, music, and love. It’s a slow, painful journey, but a riveting one. I hoped Dylan would succeed, and at times feared he wouldn’t. Every time something good happened to him, life seemed to find a way to smack him back down, but none of the events felt contrived. When the ending arrived, I felt like I often do after listening to a piece of music I’ve particularly enjoyed—moved, happy, and satisfied, yet sad to have it end. While the story has a great many sad moments, the overall journey is well worth any tears I shed over them. Fans of historical romance should NOT pass this one up! I am happy to Joyfully Recommend Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story, and can only hope Ms. Sims is hard at work on another book.