The Music and the Mirror by Lola Keeley

There are books out there that you love, 5 stars all the way, you read the book, you love it and depending if you are like me you will most likely read them again. There are some books though and these are the truly great ones. You know these books, The Blind Side of Love, How Sweet It Is, and And Playing the Role of Herself. The books that are truly in another realm of greatness. Outstanding books that pull emotion from you, that the story wraps you in a cocoon and all you see and hear is the characters on your page. Those books are the ones when you find them you treasure them forever. I found one!

The Music and the Mirror by Lola Keeley isn’t good, it isn’t great, its next level amazing. This book is exceptional in every single way. No flaws, no lags, no character misses. Nope, it is phenomenal. Yes, I used my thesaurus for adjectives. You cannot just say awesome eleventy billion times, come on now.

Anna Gale is a new dancer at the Metropolitan Performing Arts Center. She has been a ballet dancer all her life, she lives and breathes it. Coming to New York from Dubuque, Iowa to studying and dance under the greatest ballet dancer of the modern era is her dream come true. Anna embodies this wholesome rock solid nature. She’s one of these really good people that others cannot dislike because she is just a noble person. She cares for others, even when it’s in her best interest not too. She works harder than everyone else without complaint and eager to do so. Ballet literally fuels her soul.

Victoria Ford is known as the greatest ballet dancer in modern times. When she danced audiences were captivated by her skill and artistry. An injury to her knee has sidelined her from dancing so now she choreographs and runs the Metropolitan Performing Arts Center. Victoria is not an easy woman to please, she is beyond tough, she expects excellence from everyone around her and when it’s less than that you can expect biting, caustic remarks intended to sting. She is truly the emotionally detached ice queen.

This is a dialogue-heavy book, with lots of exchanges between characters. Lola Keeley takes her story and layers it. There is no skipping ahead or fast-forwarding through life moments, hell no. This author takes her time and draws out the story and the tension The sub-plots are done with craftsmanship and skill. She creates supporting characters that are distinct and authentic. The banter between Anna and Victoria, oh the banter, well its legendary and they talk like real honest to god people. The key to real-life characters is nuance. Lola Keeley could teach a class on it because her characters have it and it is glorious. As the reader I thank you.

It’s bittersweet when this book ends. This is a story that I adored, absolutely cherished. I miss it already, but know without a doubt will visit many times again. Lola Keeley made true love jump off a page like a ballerina in a Grande Jeté. Her first book by the way. Yeah, WOW and that wow is the understatement of the year.

All the stars

  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • To Purchase: https://www.ylva-publishing.com/product/the-music-and-the-mirror-by-lola-keeley/

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First Position by Melissa Brayden

So you go about your days reading books, thinking oh yes this one is good, that one over there is so good, and then a Melissa Brayden comes along making everything else seem. . . well just less than. Dancing is an art form, one I was not blessed with. Don’t you snicker now, I have moves, as a matter a fact I can do the can do the Shopping Cart and the Lawnmower like a badass, but that isn’t going to land me on the big stage, there is always hope for America’s Funniest Videos though.  Dancing, real dancing, like in First Position is heart stopping beautiful, a vivacious combination of living breathing art and absolute athleticism. Now throw in a heart stopping, angsty, sexy romance with some pirouettes. What do you get, well I’ll tell you, in my opinion you have Melissa Brayden’s best one yet! Bold statement right?

Anastasia “Ana” Mikhelson is all business, all the time. Ballet, ballet and more ballet, there is nothing else in her life literally. She is the product of two famous Russian ballet superstars, her father arguably being the most famous danseur in the world. For Ana life is about living up to her father’s fame, finding his acceptance through her hard work and flawless technical ability. What she lacks and what is holding her from being the best, passion. Ana for the life of her cannot figure out how to capture that fire that she has been told that she is missing. This all changes when a cocky rival, Natalie Frederico shows up to dance with Ana’s company, the New York City Ballet.

Natalie Frederico was a ballet child prodigy. Out of nowhere she was accepted into one of the world’s most prestigious schools. The thing was ballet was too rigid for this free spirit, so she left and headed out to LA to find her own expression of her art. Barely making it, a chance opportunity arrives year’s later for her to dance as a soloist in a new production for the New York City Ballet. While her fire is there and passion exudes from her very pores as she dances, she needs help refining her technique. Who can she turn to for help? You guessed it, the Ice Queen Ana Mikhelson. Watch out for the sparks!

These two have banter, they are competitive as hell with each other, and the whole time you have that great push-pull that really holds your attention and grabs at those little heartstrings. So many times you just catch yourself smiling through the book, almost wanting to lose your page and start from the beginning all over again. It’s sexy, it’s hot, it’s funny, it’s witty, it’s angsty. . .it’s just damn good reading (I have more adjectives, but I stopped myself). This is arguably Melissa Brayden’s best work. Bold statement yes, but I’m sticking by it. Easily one of the top five books I have read this year, easily.

Eleventy billion stars out of 5

I was given this book by Bold Strokes Books in return for an honest review.

First Position
by Melissa Brayden
Link: https://amzn.com/1626396027

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Miss Match by Fiona Riley

This is what I would call a good old-fashioned romance. No, there are no bonnets or horse drawn carriages. What I mean is Miss Match by Fiona Riley is a true romance in every sense oF the word. There is no craziness or sub-plot, it’s just two ladies that meet, find each other attractive, and move forward through highs and lows of true love. This is a romance and it is so very good!

Samantha Monteiro is a match maker. She runs a company that finds personalized love matches to the wealthy of Boston. Most of her clients are business tycoons who have put their person life on hold while they have navigated their careers. Samantha and her business partner, Andrew, find them their true love. The only problem is Samantha hasn’t found her own match yet. She thought she was to marry her college sweetheart, but his infidelity left her nothing but a scandal to cover-up.

Lucinda Moss is an advertising executive by day and a dance teacher by night.  This woman has a heart of gold. She smiles easily, says all the right things, but rarely does she let anyone know the real Lucinda. Raised a s a foster child, Lucinda has learned to fake happiness all the while keeping her heart safely hidden behind protective walls.

Samantha and Lucinda meet at a wedding. These two hit it off immediately. They find a way to keep meeting and become a constant in each other’s lives. They date, they navigate a relationship, and they fall head over heels in love. While a generic as that sounds this book is anything but. Its sexy, it’s cute and it will hold your attention to the very last sentence. This is a great book, with great characters, with a great romance. Great, great, great!!!  Oh, and this book is Fiona Riley’s first book. Oh my she is good, I cannot wait to see what she writes next because Miss Match is a stellar debut!

4.5 out of 5 stars

ARC from Netgalley and BSB

Miss Match
by Fiona Riley
Link: https://amzn.com/B01E852ZAA

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Deal-Breaker by Siri Caldwell

Rae Peters is a dancer, get you mind out of the gutter, not that kind of dancer. She’s a backup dancer for an up and coming pop sensation. On stage is where Rae feels most comfortable, her body is the epitome of grace and movement. This all suddenly changes, when she slips onstage and breaks her ankle and tears her knee to shreds. Surgery followed by rehab has changed the direction of Roe’s life momentarily. All seems hopeless until she meets Jori Burgess.

Jori Burgess is a single mom, who is a semester away from her graduate degree in accounting. She supports herself and her young daughter by working as a water aerobics instructor. She just happens to work at the same facility in which Rae is doing rehabilitation. These two ladies become immediate friends. As time progresses Jori wants more from Rae, but Rae thinks she’s straight and that’s just not worth the risk.

I really liked the book, the concept is excellent. The character of Rae is very compelling, and you really feel how lost she is during her recovery period. Not being able to dance has stolen her passion for life, and she doesn’t really know what to make of her existence. She pushes the boundaries of her physical capabilities to try to speed up her bodies healing process. She is a little bit lost in this period of her life.

Jori on the other hand has clear path of where her life is headed. She can literally see the proverbial finish line. Grad school is almost complete, and so will the days of being borderline broke. As a child Jori, was raided by an invalid mother. This childhood struggle has driven into her to excel in school and to maintain her body to be the strongest she can be. Seeing Rae struggle pulls at her heartstrings and draws her time and time again to the injured dancer.

The only real hang-up I had with this book is with the character of Axel Nye, Jori’s daughter’s father. He is an ass first off. Very unlikable! Secondly I didn’t think he brought anything really to the book, his character and the mini story line he plays in just took away from the time of Jori and Rae’s relationship development.

Overall this book is a treat. Siri Caldwell has written a great book, perfect for some light, fun reading to take your mind off a busy week.

I was given a copy of this book by the author, Siri Caldwell, in return for an honest review.

3.75 out of 5 stars

Publisher: Brussels Sprout Press

Deal-Breaker
by Siri Caldwell
Link: http://amzn.com/B01E1PP8EC