Review of Pas de Deux by EJ Noyes, audiobook narrated by Abby Craden
EJ Noyes is one of my favourite lesfic authors since she stormed the lesfic world with her Ask, Tell series, and later on with Alone, on my list of best books of 2019. Every time one of her novels is released I drop everything else to read it. Once again, she didn’t disappoint.
Caitlyn Lloyd is at the top of her career as a dressage rider with hopes to win a medal or two at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Addie Gardner is an equestrian veterinarian filling a last-minute vacancy as the veterinarian for the US Olympic Dressage Team. Both women have conflicting childhood memories when they were members of the same Pony Club and Caitlyn is far from happy to see Addie again. As both have to work together towards a common goal they will discover that maybe they can leave the past behind and build a future together…
This was an entertaining sports romance with a small part of the enemies-to-lovers trope. After the author admittedly felt uncomfortable writing in third person in her previous novel, Reaping the Benefits, she’s back to her customary first person, in this case, from both main characters’ point of view in alternating chapters. The romance is both parts sizzling and sweet, but the main stars of this story are the dressage sport and the horses. Ms. Noyes knows what she’s writing about, firstly as a former member of a Pony club and living her own “enemies to lovers” romance with her wife (read all about it in her Bella Books blog), and secondly as an experienced horse breeder. So you will find a lot of level of detail regarding the sport and even a glossary of dressage terms at the end which isn’t essential to understand as Ms. Noyes explains everything in detail. I’m not a fan of that sport but found the dressage scenes very entertaining and the tension around competition at its highest level kept me turning pages. Additionally, Caitlyn’s horse Dewey is fleshed out so well that he seems like another human character.
If you’ve read Noyes’s Ask, Tell series or Alone you will see that this author is no stranger to heavy angst. However, Pas de Deux is very low in the angst department. I personally prefer little or no angst but some readers might miss that level of emotional roller-coaster present in the books mentioned above. Having said that, this novel doesn’t lack in the excitement department, typical of a sports competition at Olympic level. So if you are a sports fan and love a low angst romance, this book is definitely for you.
A few weeks after reading the novel, I’ve listened to the audiobook narrated by Abby Craden. I’ve said that before, the artistic partnership between Noyes and Craden is a match in lesfic heaven. As usual, Ms. Craden performance was absolutely fantastic (well, with the exception of her French pronunciation). It’s the first time (that I remember) Ms. Craden performing a lead character with a southern accent. Her accent for Addie reminded me of Anastasia Watley’s performance of Laurel in The X Ingredient and I loved it.
If you are looking for a sports romance with endearing characters and low on angst, then this one is definitely for you. It’s a great audiobook to listen to coming into the Olympics. 5 stars.
Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins