Review of ‘The music and the mirror’ by Lola Keeley.

“Jump before you are pushed. In love, war and pas de deux”

I feel that my words won’t be enough to do justice to this book properly. What a fantastic read and even more so considering that this is a debut novel.

This is the story of Anna, a newbie in a successful dance company, and Victoria, former prima ballerina and its current artistic director. It gives us an insight of the ballet world with its high competition, the physical demands, the threatening of injury looming all the time, the jealousy and egocentric behaviours. Written from the point of view of both main characters, the change of pov flows naturally. Everything is so realistically described that you’d expect a dancer to leap out of the book at any time. Thanks to Ms. Keeley’s talent, she depicts ballet without sounding technical, boring or pedantic.

Victoria is the epitome of the British stiff upper lip, ice queen of ballet, in such control of herself that the reader feels her tension like a string about to snap any time. Her sarcastic comments, her strong discipline, even her wardrobe – always dressed in black – gives her an air of inaccessibility. Anna, on the other hand, is much younger, very eager to please, unaware of her incredible talent and friendly to the point of annoying, bringing a breath of fresh air to the dance company. She is almost the complete opposite of Victoria. And boy how opposites attract.

There’s a delicious slow thawing of the ice queen, step by step, jump by jump. Victoria’s sarcastic renaming of Anna as Annya and gradually accepting Anna in all her honest-to-god self, is a beautiful example of how their relationship evolves. Slowly they copy certain treats of each other, hinting the reader how they are falling in love even before they realise themselves. Their relationship is a huge dancing foreplay, Anna and Victoria’s chemistry is off the charts. Their scene in the wardrobe room is in my opinion, one of the hottest ever mastered in lesfic. Just for this brief but incredibly sexy scene this book is worth a read.

Overall, a fantastic debut novel. Highly recommended even if you are not interested in ballet. This book goes straight to my 2018 favourite books. 5+ stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Just for show’ by Jae.

This is another fantastic book by Jae, a heart warming romance
about a fake relationship between psychologist Claire Renshaw
and barista/actress Lana Henderson. Dr. Renshaw is a
successful couples therapist with a mild obsessive compulsive
disorder and a big reputation at stake when her fiancée calls
the engagement off. As an expert in relationships, a career
changing book deal might fall through if her publisher
realises that she’s been dumped. Hiring an actress to play the
role of her fiancée seems to be the perfect solution, at least
in theory. But when Lana appears in Claire’s life with her
untidiness, her diet full of carbs and tendency to put her
foot in her mouth, Claire starts second guessing her decision.
Will they be able to fake their relationship? And what if it’s
not so pretend after all?

Lately there’s been a few lesfic books on sham marriage or
fake relationships with different degrees of success. ‘Just
for show’ is one of the best (if not the best) I’ve read so
far. As usual, Jae likes to deviate from the common
stereotypes portraying Lana as a plus size woman proud to show
her curves and happy to enjoy food. Jae tackles issues such as
anxiety and OCD with tact and the rest with a healthy dose of
humour. She exploits the absurd fake relationship situation
with great skill.

“I want you to be my girlfriend.” For a moment, all Lana could
do was stare at her. Was this some kind of joke? Then the
humor of the situation overcame her. “Shouldn’t you at least
buy me dinner first?”

The dialogues are witty, the chemistry is off the charts and
the secondary characters are spot on. Jae is a master of the
‘show not tell’ in lesfic (no wonder she’s authored a non-
fiction book on the issue), the pace is perfect and the
growing chemistry is believable. A pleasure to read.

As a bonus, readers can catch up with the lives of Jill and
Crash from ‘Just physical’ and Lelah and Hope from ‘Heart
trouble’ who make their appearance as secondary characters.

Overall, a very entertaining, well written, heart warming
romance. Highly recommended. 5+ stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest
review.

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Review of ‘Who’d have thought’ by G Benson.

This author is writing better and better every time and this book in particular is getting on my list of the best 2017 books so far. The theme of sham marriage is not new in lesfic but Benson presents it here so skillfully that makes up for the lack of originality. Both main characters are crafted with special detail in their personalities and little quirks. Ms. Benson’s descriptions are quite cinematographic, the reader can actually feel their chemistry growing slowly until it sizzles out of the pages. The plot keeps the reader guessing the reasons for the sham marriage and even manages a nice twist at the end.

The secondary characters play a fantastic supporting role, adding realism and sometimes humour to the plot. Frank the cat is hilarious as Hayden’s judgemental alter ego, a magnificent performance without (obviously) uttering a word. Also worth to mention is the introduction of the concept of non-binary sexuality via Hayden’s friend Luce, who challenged some of my prejudices about gender fluidity. I love when an author makes me think without sounding preachy. That was the cherry on the top for this fabulous read.

Overall, an excellent read, great romance and food for thought. Very easy 5+ stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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