Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?
All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.
3.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
OK, you know exactly why I requested this book if you know anything about me. The premise was tailor made for me! I love dance books, and love them even more when the hero dances!! And the dance stuff was fantastic! And there was a lot of it!! You can’t even imagine how happy that made me. I’m not a dancer, whatsoever, but I appreciate it and envy those with that much dedication, athleticism and grace. And honestly, the dancing was my favourite part of this book. Seeing Garret learn about stretching, positions, pirouettes, and then seeing Garret and Izzy tackle lifts just filled my heart with happiness!
As for the rest of the story, and particularly the characters, I thought this book started off really strong! I was drawn into the challenges of both characters, and I thought they both seemed like good kids struggling to work through what life had handed them. I felt Izzy’s loneliness and isolation, and her struggle to do things on her own and prove her worth without her father’s influence. And Garret had a lot to work through with an unsupportive (and possibly alcoholic) dad, and the struggles that come from a low-income family.
And I really enjoyed their initial interplay with each other…like they had their own impressions of the other, but they could see that there was more to the other. I liked the way they started becoming friends, but you could see them wanting more. And I liked the way they became more!
But somewhere along the way, the characters seemed to stop growing. I know they’re teenagers, but I honestly expected them to start showing some empathy towards the other’s situation. But the selfishness, in general, persisted. Moreso in Garret than Izzy. I actually grew annoyed when Izzy would immediately apologize for her assumptions about what Garret would struggle with and downplay her own struggles, and there would be crickets from Garret’s side. Apparently money really is more valuable than close family, at least according to this book. As a reader, I thought they both struggled equally, but I don’t think Garret ever really understood the negatives about Izzy’s life. All he saw was the wealth and material things. And thus, I became less enamoured with our characters, particularly the hero.
And then we get to the ending…which felt kind of rushed, and left me a bit unsatisfied.
So yeah. Full marks for the dance component, and a fantastic first half!! But alas, I need a good closer to make me round up instead of down, which is a bummer. This one had so much potential. Perhaps the ending won’t bug others as much as it did me.
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