'Reverie': Lauren E. Rico turns up the heat in sexual thriller

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Lauren E. Rico's 'Reverie' Jay Gabler/APM

"I drop my horn and aim for a clear patch of sound-insulated wall paneling to the left of the door. Julia is giggling a little. I pull her into a tight embrace and lean down to kiss her. Her tongue meets mine hungrily and she's making..."

Lauren E. Rico's new novel Reverie is a steamy voyage through the world of a young cellist who becomes entangled in a dark romance while preparing to compete for a prestigious music prize.

Rico knows whereof she writes: she's a horn player and a classical radio host, who's recently "discovered a passion for writing" and has published a passionate novel indeed. Reverie isn't just an excuse for Rico to write about hormones in harmony, though: it's a complex story with some disturbing twists.

The novel's first narrator is Julia, a gifted cellist whose love life is complicated by the fact that she's been keeping her roommate and BFF Matthew firmly in the friend zone for years — despite his unsubtle hints that he thinks of her as more than a friend. For her part, Julia lusts for her conservatory classmate Jeremy, a horn player. Their flirtation heats up even as they're both advancing in a major music competition.

Can their romance survive the rigors of a musical competition? Needless to say, Matthew has his doubts about the relationship, but a series of...let's just say satisfying hookups leave Julia convinced she's found true love with Jeremy. Later, the script flips as we move to Jeremy's P.O.V. and we have a new perspective on the relationship.

This well-paced, often hot-and-heavy romance thriller is carefully plotted, making it a beach read that's hard to put down. A bonus for fans of classical music is that Rico knows her stuff, meaning that the music scenes feel convincing as integral parts of the story.

Even if you start to think you know where Reverie is going, you might find yourself surprised. In that way, it's not unlike a good piece of music. There's a lot of classical music that suggests erotic heat and dark intrigue; Lauren E. Rico just takes the next logical step and, so to speak, lays it out for us.