Cover of Rhythm and Muse, featuring a young black man wearing over-ear headphones

About the Book

Title: Rhythm & Muse
Published: 2023
Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Cover Story: Record Sleeve
BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Music, Community, Tasty Business
Relationship Status: Not My Type

Cover Story: Record Sleeve

This cheerful, energetic cover looks like it belongs around an 80’s or 90’s vinyl record, just like what Darren and his parents like to listen to. Also, Darren is definitely the kind of guy who would play music with his eyes closed and heavy-duty headphones on. As for Delia’s face appearing on the headphones, that’s because he’s daydreaming about her; “Delia Daydreams” are a recurring feature in this book.

The Deal:

Darren Armstrong has a secret talent for singing and writing lyrics, and an equally secret crush on his classmate, podcast host Delia Dawson. Knowing he’s too shy to admit to either one, his friend Justin submits one of Darren’s love songs anonymously as a theme song for Delia’s podcast. To everyone’s surprise – especially Darren’s – the song goes viral, but what does Delia think of it? Can this introvert get out of his own head and put himself out there for love?

BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh

BFF charm with Roger Murtagh from Lethal Weapon's face.

I still remember what it felt like when the prospect of being rejected by one’s crush felt like the end of the universe, but that doesn’t mean I like to read about it. I found Darren’s constant indecision exhausting, especially when it turned into outright lies to avoid taking ownership of his success. His friend’s submitting the song behind his back might be inappropriate, but at least it’s doing something. If Darren were left to his own devices, we wouldn’t have a story at all.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Darren’s daydreams are remarkably G-rated for a teenage boy’s, and in the real world, he and Delia have a very chaste relationship. Wiping chocolate off her nose is about as sensual as it gets. As for emotional intimacy, I wasn’t feeling much of that either. Delia in person doesn’t sound too different from her podcasts, and Darren spends far too much energy hiding his secret to open up to her.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

I found the writing style pretty straightforward, except for some cultural references I didn’t understand. Since I’m not the target audience of this book, I didn’t need to understand.

Bonus Factor: Music

Beautiful african woman with afro listening to music with eyes closed in studio

Darren’s songwriting is inspired by 90’s R&B. Even for those who don’t know the artists he references, his passion and eloquence are endearing.

Bonus Factor: Community

Darren has two loving parents, a witty and supportive older sister, meddlesome but well-meaning friends, a competent guidance counselor at school, and a vibrant church congregation to be part of. It’s the nicest group of people I’ve read about in a long time. This, unfortunately, makes it even harder to understand why Darren doesn’t confide in them.

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

A burger, beer, and bucket of fries on a plate.

Darren and Delia introduce each other to their favorite burger place and coffee shop. The Armstrong family’s soul food traditions are mentioned more than once. 

Relationship Status: Not My Type

I may not be the ideal reader for you, book, but I know you’ll find them.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review. Rhythm & Muse will be available May 30.

Literary Matchmaking


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Charming as a Verb

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Instructions for Dancing

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon is also about the power of music to connect.

Regina Peters works in the video game industry, but her favourite imaginary worlds are on paper. She lives in Montreal, Canada, with her family.