Guest Post: Prelude to Love by Anne Barwell


Fellow kiwi author and friend Anne Barwell has a new release out, and it’s set here in NZ! I asked Anne if she wouldn’t mind talking about some of the special locations in the story, and she obliged—with photos! I’ve really enjoyed hearing Anne’s thoughts about these locations, and am hoping to visit some of them when I catch up with her later this month. It’s going to be great!

Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for Prelude to Love, a Dreamspun Desire novel from Dreamspinner Press.

I have a Rafflecopter running as part of the tour so be sure to enter.

Prelude to Love is set in Wellington, and most of the story takes place in the Hutt Valley where I live. Most of the locations are real places or inspired by real places. The only one that isn’t is Avalon College where Joel is a music teacher. Avalon is a suburb in Lower Hutt, and there is an Avalon Primary and Intermediate but no college/high school. As the school and its inhabitants play a big part in the story I didn’t want to use a real place, but it is inspired by schools where I’ve worked or visited.

I also took care to use different locations from Sunset at Pencarrow—co-written with Lou Sylvre—which released in 2017. However, there were some locations which I had to reuse, such as Wellington Airport, and the Petone Esplanade. It’s difficult to get away from those, although I must admit Nate from that story lives only a few blocks away from Joel in this one!

I enjoyed being able to share familiar locations, and as an added bonus I didn’t need to use google maps. In fact at one point I was writing a scene, and couldn’t remember the specifics of that particular location so I went for a drive and took photos, and had a bonus cuppa with my daughter at the same time.

Bridge Te Whiti Park 300x400

An area alongside the Waiwhetu stream plays an important part in the story, and serves as a location for several scenes. I like the area because it’s peaceful and, as an added bonus, near a really nice café. Joel and Marcus visit that café in the story and, although I haven’t named it, locals will recognise it by its description.

When I was taking photos on the bank of the stream I noticed a rather unusual tree. Inspiration struck and I knew I could use it in the story.

Joel's Tree 300x400

Joel spotted a familiar tree, one with a shape that had made him smile at the time. He’d never been sure whether the trunk had split in two very early on, or whether two trees had grown close together, giving the impression of one. Ivy grew up the middle, linking the two as they’d reached for the sun. 

“Interesting-looking tree,” Marcus said.

“Yeah. It reminds me of a relationship, of two people still doing their own thing but linked by their love for each other.” Joel crouched in front of it, checking the grass wasn’t too wet before he sat.

I love it when location inspires the story.

Oriental Bay at dusk

A story set in New Zealand has to feature a beach somewhere. We’re surrounded by water, particularly here in Wellington. So at one point Joel and Marcus share ice creams at Oriental Bay—a popular beach in Wellington close to the CBD (central business district).   I took this photo of the spot where that part of the story takes place, but while they visit during the day earlier in the year, this is a few months later and at dusk. To the left is the Wellington waterfront, and across the harbour is the motorway along the edge of the shore leading to the Hutt Valley on the far right. The larger boat is one of the Picton ferries heading toward Wellington at the end of its journey from the South Island crossing Cook Strait.

I enjoy being able to set stories in New Zealand, and share a bit of my country with readers, so am planning to do more of it—and across a couple of different genres—in the future.



Music speaks directly to the heart.

Two very different men face turning points in their lives after the collapse of long-term relationships….

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—things could get messy if it doesn’t work out. The sweet song of possibility draws them to each other, though, and they share a kiss following a Chopin prelude. But it will take some practice and perseverance to find their perfect harmony….

Dreamspinner Press  | Amazon |Barnes and Noble  


Although the room was sparsely furnished, Marcus hadn’t really noticed it before. Apart from the piano and the small table and chair next to it, there was only one sofa and a bookcase full of sheet music in the corner.

“That works.”

Nannerl pushed past Marcus and jumped up onto the sofa, sprawling out to take up the entire seat.

“Or not,” Marcus said. “I’ll take your usual seat.”

“You can shift her, you know.” Joel glanced at Nannerl. “I swear that cat has a mind of her own.”

“She’s a cat, and your chair looks comfortable enough. Besides, I can see better from here.”

Marcus pushed the chair back, stretched his legs out, and crossed them at the ankles. “What’s the music?” Not that it would mean much to him, but he still wanted to be able to put a name to it.

“It’s a Chopin prelude. I’ve always liked playing Chopin. I find it relaxing, as it’s easy to lose myself in the music, so I’m hoping that helps me not to stress out too much on the night of the concert.” Joel adjusted the distance between the stool and the piano and then began to play.

Marcus nodded. He’d heard the name Chopin before—probably from Joel.

Despite his intention to watch Joel play, Marcus found himself closing his eyes and listening to the music. It felt as though Joel projected some of himself into his performance. Nuances of emotion reached out to Marcus as the melody grew louder, in both volume and intensity, and faster. Then slower again, the melody taking center stage, with a repeating deeper note before the music finished, and Marcus realized Joel had stopped playing.

“Wow.” Marcus opened his eyes.

Joel still sat poised at the keyboard. He placed his hands on his lap, interlacing his fingers, his knuckles white. “Wow? Really? I still need to practice, and that bit with the—”

Marcus didn’t have the words to describe what he’d heard. He’d liked it. A lot. Not just for the music but the insight it gave him into Joel. He leaned over, gently brushed his fingers against Joel’s face, and when Joel turned toward him, Marcus kissed him on the lips. Softly at first, then deepening as Joel threaded his fingers through Marcus’s hair and pulled him closer.

Joel tasted of coffee and beer. He caressed Marcus’s lips with his tongue, and Marcus groaned. Why had he waited so long for this? Kissing Joel felt right, as though he’d found something he’d never known was missing.

When they finally broke the kiss, Joel leaned his forehead against Marcus’s. “Wow,” he whispered. “I should play for you more often.”


a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can find the list of sites taking part in the blog tour here:

(Or, if you prefer, here’s a coded list of the sites):

January 2 – Happily Ever After Chapter

January 3 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

January 3 – Gillian St Kevern

January 4 – Love Bytes Reviews

January 5 – My Fiction Nook

January 8 – Kimi-chan Experience

January 8 – Two Men Are Better Than One

January 9 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

January 10 – Dreamspinner Press Blog

January 11 – Anna Butler

January 12- Nic Starr

January 16 – Aisling Mancy

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Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

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  1. Thanks again for hosting me! We can definitely go visit those locations when you’re here. Looking forward to catching up.

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