Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

Today, I am reviewing Anne Barwell’s latest release Prelude to Love, a m/m contemporary romance.

Title: Prelude to Love
Series: N/A
Author: Anne Barwell
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 267 pages
Publication Date: February 28, 2022
Publisher:LaceDragon Publishing

Music speaks directly to the heart.

Blurb:  Joel is a music teacher who knows it’s time to forget his ex and move on, while Marcus runs a lawn-mowing business and has come to Wellington to escape the reminders of a recent breakup. Although they’re opposites, when Joel and Marcus connect, their romance has the potential to hit all the right notes.

Too bad neither of them feels ready for new love.

With family and friends in common, dating is risky and things could get messy if it doesn’t work out. When the sweet song of possibility draws them towards romance, a Chopin prelude ends in a seductive kiss. But it will take some practice and perseverance to find their perfect harmony…

Author’s note: This is the second edition of Prelude to Love. The first edition was released by another publishing house. This edition has some added content, and has been revised and re-edited with the end result being a better, stronger story. It uses New Zealand spelling to reflect its setting.


When I saw that the romance was set in New Zealand, I was in.  I really enjoy reading romance set in different countries.  Joel is a workaholic and recovering from a relationship that didn’t pan out.  He’s so focussed on his job and music, and is also carrying more baggage than LAX, that it’s going to take a very special person to crack his interior.  Enter Marcus, having made the move to Joel’s hometown after a break-up with his boyfriend, and Marcus is the total opposite of Joel.

Then there is the family.  They really added to this story, keeping the two guys in line, and also cheering for them to get together.  Very sweet.  But the family also made Joel and Marcus hesitant about starting something because if it didn’t work out, they’d have to deal with the fall out, since Joel’s best friend is married to Marcus’ sister.  Yes, these guys have had encounters before, but nothing happened since they were both in relationships at the time.

I felt as if I was in New Zealand hanging with the Kiwis.  The author blends in the setting and regionalism as part of each scene.  Well done.  I also enjoyed how the two needed that extra push to get together because they were so wary of starting something after the break-up and the family issue.

Then there is Marcus who has a penchant for keeping secrets.  Two in fact.  This adds some drama to the relationship, and the second secret even tests if what they have going is strong enough to overcome what Marcus did.  And I don’t blame Joel for being ticked.  I’m a stickler for “stay out of my biz” too, especially in a new relationship.

The duo share a great chemistry for opposites.  Joel is all about the indoors and Marcus is all about the outdoors, yet they are both determined to make it work.  The epilogue was awesome, a great way to close the novel and made me smile.

I must say I also enjoyed the character arcs as both looked deep inside of themselves to understand how they had to change a few things about themselves if they wanted the relationship to work.  Well done.

This is a wonderful read.  Not too heavy.  Not too angsty.  It’s close to small-town romance with lots of family.  It made me think of a Hallmark movie.  I recommend you give this a read.  You won’t be disappointed.

Have you read Prelude to Love?  If so, do you agree with my review?  If you haven’t read the book, would you be willing to now?

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