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Love, From A to Z by Robin Alexander

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆ Robin Alexander books are like a carefully hoarded treat that we dip into when we feel rather deserving. Though this one was...

The Music and the Mirror By Lola Keely


The intricacies and the unforgiving demands of the ballet world are the context for this wholly involving romance. The thawing of the Ice Queen is the trope but done very well.

Victoria Ford, the Queen of Ballet, has had to retire from the stage due to a terrible accident. She is now and artistic director. Anna Gale, a twenty-one year old, wide-eyed, hero-worshipping newbie has a rollercoaster first day under Victoria: first she is almost thrown out of the school and by the end of the day her raw talent makes Victoria promote her. Their relationship develops slowing with struggles and sabotage; through attraction and ambition; through snipes and sensitivity.

One of the most interesting things that Keely has done is the wonderful mangling and amalgamation of stereotypes. Anna is first presented as a kind, quick-to-smile, wide-eyed, giggly millennial. The physical expectation is of an extremely fragile, feminine ballerina. But the author has physically made her as butch as a ballerina can be; butch enough to play the part of a Prince and execute lifts and throws of other ballerinas. Butch enough to bench press Victoria. Her little friend of the world persona is offset with borderline festish-ish edges. She is masochistic enough to fall for cutting, verbal nastiness and her submissiveness is prevalent all through. Victoria has a towering presence but is physically diminutive and narrow. She is quite a dominatrix, but while her words are sharp, her actions are always way more emotional. She has low tolerance for Anna’s bright-happy wonder and looks for dark edges in her. Despite all this, Victoria is the one who takes the relationship forward (and not only because she is in the position of power – but because she really wants it).

On the whole, this is one of the better lesfic romances out there.   


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