Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pas de Deux by Fiona Jayde

TITLE: Pas de Deux
AUTHOR: Fiona Jayde
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $3.50

Ballerina Lynnrina Kovaleva is attempting to return to her career after an injury that could have ended it. The downside is getting partnered with the man who dumped her years before. She indulges in her ritual of an anonymous one-night stand before rehearsals start, a ritual embittered Mateo Rivera is more than happy to indulge. Needless to say, they’re both surprised when he’s hired three months later as her bodyguard, but someone seems to have an unhealthy eye on Lynn and something needs to be done about it. Mateo and Lynn fight their attraction, but the heat of that first night is too combustible to resist…

I almost bought this book on the basis of the cover and the blurb alone; that’s how much both hit my particular kinks. While it wasn’t the showstopper I hoped it to be, it was still enjoyable enough to outshine a lot of what I’ve been reading lately.

Prima ballerina Lynn has a ritual before she starts rehearsals for any new production – she has an anonymous one-night stand. It’s a ritual she’s had for years, ever since getting publicly dumped by a fellow dancer, the man she is now being forced to dance with again if she wants to rebuild her career. She picks out Mateo, a man her choreographer has already identified as a bodyguard (so in her mind, safe), and gets what she wants. Three months later, when ominous letters and a brick through a window scare her choreographer into thinking someone sinister is after her, Lynn finds herself face to face with her one-night stand again, this time as the object of his latest assignment. The story winds on from there, focusing more on the growing heat and romance between the two rather than the suspense (the story’s length really prevents that aspect from being fully utilized/developed).

Mateo is the real jewel in this. Within just a few words, he is given far more depth than most romantic heroes in stories of this length. An ex-cop, he left the force after his partner was shot and paralyzed by a kid Mateo couldn’t stop in time. Guilt ate him up until he finally quit, and he’s obsessed with never making those kinds of mistakes again. He struggles with a whole slew of personal demons – the guilt about his partner, a single, alcoholic mother who continually slides off the wagon, losing his own vices (like smoking). He has a tendency to come across as cold and austere, but that’s just the wall he’s imposed around himself. Underneath, he smolders, and when that breaks through, it's breathtaking.

Lynn is his female counterpart. She was sent over to the US from the Ukraine to study ballet at the age of eleven, and has heard her whole life about how much her parents and family have sacrificed for her. She does everything she can to present to the world the perfect visage, while secretly bingeing on chocolate when stress gets too much for her and indulging in the anonymous sex. There’s a desperation behind her need that comes back again and again, and while it didn’t always make sense to either the scene or the pacing, it did make logical sense when I considered it afterward. However, the slight questioning as to her perceived erratic behavior while I was reading reduced my emotional commitment to her character. Not by much, grant you. But enough for me to clearly favor Mateo.

The story shines in regards to its details in both the ballet world and San Francisco. It’s easy to believe in both, and while the suspense angle didn’t prove the same to me (I guessed who it was right away, but again, the story’s brevity means a lack of any real suspects), there are enough strong elements in this short novella to have made it worth the read. It was hot and romantic, with a hero I could fall for. I would love to see if this author has written longer works. With the advantage of space, I think there could be something really magical.


8/10 – Hot and romantic, with enough gritty realism to keep it interesting


8/10 – No sugarcoating of his heritage or past here, which helps to make him spring from the page


7/10 – Her mercurial nature when not dancing makes logical sense, though it didn’t always make emotional or pacing sense

Entertainment value

8/10 – Enough heat and enough conflicted romance to really engage me

World building

8/10 – Both the city and her rehearsals felt utterly real



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