Stars: 3.5 / 5
After The Music is a novella by Christine Feehan published first in the anthology A Very Gothic Christmas in November 2001 and then as part of The Wicked and The Wondrous in October 2004. The plot revolves around a family trying to overcome obstacles and murderous people yet try to have a peaceful Christmas. It is a stand-alone story in itself without any connection to any of her series. It's one of the few novellas that Christine has written.
Jessica Fitzpatrick arrives at the remote island mansion of world-famous musician Dillon Wentworth with her twin wards - Tara and Trevor Wentworth. Tara and Trevor are Dillon's kids whom he had sent away to stay with Jessica and her mother Rita Fitzpatrick after Dillon had gone through a huge loss. She had lived on the island along with her mother when she had worked as the care taker of the house and the twins. Dillon had been her friend and confidante, they had sing, compose music and spend time as best friends. Her memories with this place however were not all good. Yet she had pushed back all those memories and brought the children back to their father after seven years. After her mother had died she had taken up the responsibility of the wards but now she thought Dillon should know his kids as much as she knows them and loves them.
Dillon had formed a small band in his youth and then went on to become world-famous musician. He had married is childhood sweetheart Vivian, but she didn’t turn out to be not so such sweet once fame hit them. Dillon had ignored her and tolerated her, by banishing her to this remote island when he went his tours. However Vivian fell into the wrong kind of cult that had less to do with faith and devotion and more to do with drugs, orgies and virgin sacrifices - all done under the influence of the cult leader. Dillon tried his best to but he did not do his best until one night where he found Vivian and her cult doing unspeakable things. Filled with rage he had bashed all of them, and walked out of the house. Later the house caught on fire killing Vivian and her six guests while Dillon came out with burnt hands. Media had made him out to be a monster even though he had been acquitted of the blame that he had caused the fire and killings. Tara and Trevor were five at the time and sent in care of Rita and Jessica to avoid more of media attacks. Now, Jessica brought them back to his life. For what purpose?
Who was trying to kill Jessica? Was Rita's accident really an accident or a murder? Who was sending all the tabloid papers and making blank calls to Jessica and the kids after all this time? And what a coincidence that the entire band has re-grouped in Dillon's house to create new music. Is that really a coincidence? Or did someone have an ulterior motive? What is it that scared Jessica the most to come back to this house? Who really killed Viivian, her guests and caused the fire? Was any of the band members behind all this? If so, who would that be?
A dark story filled with troubles, terrors and pains that have been hidden for seven years, struggling to come out - to bring peace or to cause rift all over again. Christine Feehan blended the dark elements with life, light and love very well in this novella as much as she had done with her series. Another good read that would charm you and would want you to see more of the characters as the pages flow by. Strong Jessica, willed Dillon and the understanding kids mixed with the temperamental band - a perfect plot with a certain happy ending come Christmas comes. I recommend you to try it for those lazy days and cozy nights.