Jordan Steele’s life began when he was ten. When he was taken from his parents and a house that was never a home. When he met his brothers, the other lost and abandoned boys in his group home. When he learned what friendship and family and love looked like.
Now he’s made good, touring the world with the band he and his brothers formed in that crowded group home. No one but his found family really knows the man under the fame and fortune, the scars he hides behind the rockstar lifestyle. Until he sees her through the windows of the National Ballet, dancing, and suddenly the world doesn’t seem so dark.
Aleksandra Artemov ticks all the ballet boxes. Father a legendary Kirov dancer. Check. Prepping since birth for classical ballet. Check. Compulsive control over the food she eats. Check. Principal dancer at The National Ballet of Canada. Check. But what she craves is freedom.
She craves Jordan.
Everything about him should terrify her. His size, his tattoos, his edge. But he doesn’t. He stirs her very soul. Jordan has nothing but himself to offer her, and he’s never been good enough for anyone. Can he figure out how to face his own demons before he loses his light for good?
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
While you can totally read this without reading the Second Circle Tattoos series that this series spins off from, I will say that I regret not reading Dred’s book before starting on this one (I’ve read 1 and 4, but not 3). Not that I won’t likely still go back and enjoy that book, but you do get little mini spoilers in this book.
This was so much more…heartbreaking and involved and sweet and uplifting than I was expecting. I mean, yes and no. It’s not that I don’t know that Ms. Cole can write stories with harrowing backstory. But both Jordan and Lexie really got to me.
Since I hadn’t read Dred’s book, I didn’t quite know what to expect from Jordan, but his backstory is just gut wrenching. And the ways he copes now, and how it has affected him…it just felt so real, and sucked me in and gave me all the feels. He was an extremely interesting character. Because he could be both sweet and innocent as well as dirty and even volatile. He was kind of a conundrum. Sometimes I wondered at the many aspects of him, but I can’t decide if it his growth was too much too soon, or just right. Sometimes life gives you a trigger that your brain has been waiting for, that allows you to see more into yourself and finally get over your stumbling blocks. And occasionally I wanted a deeper look into how it is affecting him now, but maybe the bits we got at different times were just right. But anyways, regardless, I definitely wanted to hug the shit out of him.
And while Jordan’s story is perhaps a bit more heartbreaking, Lexie has her own horrible issues to deal with. You feel it right from the start, and you just feel sick for her, and what she’s living with, and how it has affected her. I was worried, at one point in the story, that her own struggles would be minimized, or not dealt with in the appropriate way and with sensitivity…but I should have trusted Ms. Cole. And in the end, the way that all went really made sense for her and Jordan. I kind of wished I’d been able to read more of how she was going to cope, but that’s probably just me being greedy.
I did absolutely adore the look into the ballet world, even if hers was a bit skewed by her father. I’ve always admired the crap out of dancers, and my hubby and I have season tickets for our provincial ballet. I have the grace of a bulldog, so it’s something I always envy…but I definitely don’t envy the toll it takes and the hours of hard work they put into their craft.
And their chemistry together was pretty fantastic. It was a lot more blunt and straight talking than I was expecting at times, but it worked for them. I loved seeing Jordan struggle with how to have a relationship, and how he second guessed everything he did. Again, so sweet. And then he’d say something dirty, and it just balanced.
AND I LOVED THE BITS OF CANADIANNESS!! I mean, YES!! I’ve never lived in Toronto, but I did recognize street names, and stupid little things like the No Frills grocery store, the Canadian Tire bag, and shopping at The Bay, and Karen Kain, and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (been there)! It’s the little things that make this girl happy. *high fives Preload for being Canadian*
And finally, there was the secondary cast. While they weren’t there all the time, the scenes where they were just showed me the connection between the guys, and how they lean on each other in small ways. And OMG, they brought such levity! “She’s the phone!” Just so much love. Cannot WAIT to read more books of these boys. Though I am scared, b/c if Lennon is more f’d up than Jordan, I just don’t know if I can handle his story.
Honestly, the only reason I’m rounding down instead of up is just a me thing…I’m still in that strange bubble where I’m not quite getting sucked into the books fully. Were I in a different mood, I can totally see myself rounding up. OHHH!! And there were some areas where the POV changed without a break. I’m not a fan. Especially since it was pretty consistent throughout the rest of the book, so it was what I had come to expect.
If you’re a medium angst fan like me, who likes some heart wrenching, but not too much to be overwhelmed, then you need this series in your life.