A Different Tune
by LK Campbell, historical (2007)
Another Era Books, $8.99, ISBN N/A


LK Campbell is certainly doing her best to create a niche for herself as her third effort, A Different Tune, once more brings me back to the end of World War 2 for another story of a soldier coming home to find love waiting for him.

It is July 1945. Cassandra Wright's second application to the Bennett Conservatory in Jacksonville is successful but she is nervous because in the year since her first application was rejected, she had plenty of time to convince herself that her dream to be a piano player was not to be. However, she will have more on her plate to ponder when paratrooper First Sgt Scott Riley, who has been her pen-pal in the previous year, comes home in love with her and wanting to marry her. Her parents are not too keen on Scott wanting to marry 18-year old Cassie and therefore preventing her from attending Bennett. So what it will be for Cassie - the Conservatory or matrimony?

By the way, he's 22, in case you're wondering.

A Different Tune is arguably the most sexual work by the author to date because the characters are more explicit about feeling desire for each other while the characters in her previous books can be a little too much like those sweet Pleasantville types who hold hands and maybe be a little bit naughty. Not that I am complaining, of course, I just thought I should warn any reader out there who may assume that Ms Campbell writes only sweet stories that are equivalents to Thomas Kinkade paintings.

In fact, if anything, A Different Tune is actually a most readable tale with a pretty subversive feminist slant. Some of you may be pleased to learn that in the end Cassie doesn't have to give her up dreams to marry Scott - those two actually come up with a most sensible compromise between his and her ambitions and desires. Scott sometimes comes on too strong towards Cassie, such as when he insists on following her to her recital and audition, but in the end he demonstrates that he can be a reasonable fellow who is willing to wait for Cassie to be ready to settle down with him.

Scott can push Cassie too hard at times in this story but I actually appreciate some flaws in his personality - he is easily the most realistic hero by this author to date since the author's last two heroes can be too much of unrealistic paragons at times. Cassie also behaves like a realistic eighteen-year old girl torn between wanting to explore all kinds of possibilities with Scott and obeying her parents who sometimes don't seem to be aware that their sweet little girl has grown up. Both characters are not perfect and I actually find them more memorable because of their flaws.

But I actually find Cassie's relationship with her mother the most interesting aspect of this story. Cassie's mother starts out an obnoxious showbiz-mother type of character but by the end of the story she has evolved into a more human character who actually makes peace with her daughter. I like how Ms Campbell doesn't portray the daughter to be in the right and the mother to be completely wrong. Again, both mother and daughter compromise the way Cassie and Scott come to some kind of compromise, which is how things should be sometimes.

A Different Tune is easily Ms Campbell's most mature and best work to date. Some readers may be disappointed that there is less of a "military" flavor in this story since Scott is no longer a soldier for the most part of the story. However, I personally feel that Ms Campbell has demonstrated a most welcome ability to create well-rounded characters and treat the issues faced by her characters in a reasonable and mature manner compared to her previous books where the lead characters can get pretty tedious in how saintly they are.

Rating: 88


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