I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Fenbrook Academy #1
Published by Foster & Black New Adult on June 25, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Natasha is one of the most promising ballet dancers at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy of Performing Arts and she’s just landed a life-changing audition. But no one knows the guilt she carries...or the damage it makes her inflict on herself when she’s alone.
Darrell is a multi-millionaire designer at 25. But past traumas have pushed him into isolation and the intense pressure of his work has brought him to the edge of burnout. Seeking inspiration, he sees Natasha dance and hires her as his muse.
As she dances for him, the two become entwined in a passionate but troubled relationship. He starts to see the pain inside her and helps her gradually lower her defenses...but Darrell has demons of his own. Can two broken people save each other? Or will the darkness they’re hiding consume them both?
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My Initial Reaction…
Dance For Me was more complex than I had expected. Helena Newbury wrote some beautifully complex characters and put them together in a heartwarming, but troubled romance.
It took me minutes to realize I was going to love this book and Natasha was the reason. Within just the first few pages we realize that she’s much more than a ballet dancer – she’s a young woman with some deep emotional scars that are leading her to scar herself on a daily basis. Natasha is a cutter. Newbury writes this very complex aspect of Natasha’s character so well; she captures the guilt and frustration and need perfectly. My heart broke for Natasha, because she’s a gifted, kind, beautiful young lady who is dealing with so much hurt that she doesn’t believe that she can be loved. A great deal of the story revolves around this mystery of why she hurts herself and feels so unworthy.
But Natasha is not the only damaged character in Dance For Me. Darrell, who literally comes crashing into her life, carries as much emotional baggage on his shoulders as she does. He’s just dealt with a very different way: by throwing himself into his work as an engineer. Darrell is your typical dream guy with a dark secret. He’s gorgeous, kind, gentle, a genius, filthy rich and he rides a motorcycle. What more could you want? I found myself comparing him to Christian Grey from Fifty Shades. He’s the wealthy, sexy man who falls for this girl who he needs because, whether he knew it or not, there’s something about her that can fix him. I should note, however, that this is where the similarities stop – he is not a secret Dom and his wealth is a bit more reasonable.
While there are some other characters that have semi-frequent appearances in Dance For Me, none of them is really that fully developed. I got a sense that I liked some of them and would like to know them better, but this really is a story about Natasha and Darrell. The other characters are more like decoration than support beams; nice to have but not really crucial to the story itself.
Natasha is a ballerina with modest dreams. She knows she got into the game too late to be a bigshot, but she does hope she can make a living dancing because she really is a talented dancer. She attends Fenbrook Academy (which happens to be a real academy in New York, setup exactly as Newbury describes), which is dedicated to dance, acting, and music. The day of the biggest audition of her career thus far she’s doing fairly well when some hot idiot (who we later learn is Darrell) comes crashing in and throws her off. She doesn’t make the cut, but she does get an offer she wasn’t expecting. Darrell asks her to dance for him; when she learns he’s an engineer she finds the request immediately creepy (who wouldn’t?) and turns him down. She can’t help but wonder if it was a big mistake.
As the story progresses Natasha and Darrell meet again and the sparks are undeniable. It’s clear that Newbury has some knowledge of dance because you can really see and feel the dances; I especially love the way she uses dance to spark and heighten the sexual tension. I’ve always been a fan of movies with lots of dancing or musicals, which is what drew me to this series in the first place. I think the dance aspect is beautifully balanced with the story and character development – it’s not forgotten but it doesn’t overwhelm if dance isn’t your thing.
As for the romance, mostly it’s pretty great. Newbury supplies a good amount of tension before bringing us to the climax and there’s some moments of banter between Natasha and Darrel via Facebook and text message that I found really enjoyable (although it did, once again, remind me of Fifty Shades). My one complaint was that the feelings came a bit too fast for me. I can get behind feeling an insatiable curiosity and pull towards someone, but insta-love doesn’t really work for me and Dance For Me definitely had a bit of that. Otherwise the romance was enjoyable.
Dance For Me pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go until I was finished. The characters are well written and complex; I couldn’t help but love Natasha. Looking forward to reading In Harmony (coming September 21st!).Get it on Amazon