Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Jared Hartley is a successful London actor starring in a play he co-wrote with his best friend Adam. He has a great life, great friends, and just bought his own flat. He never really thought about a relationship as being single works for him. Life is great and he has everything he needs, until he meets Fenix.
Fenix Bergman fell in love with the theater at the age of eight when he saw his mother, a prima ballerina, perform. His dream has always been to perform on Broadway. When Fenix is offered the lead role in a new London musical, he knows it’s the perfect step to his Broadway dreams. All he’s ever wanted is to be worthy of the biggest stage in theater. Then he meets Jared.
Sharing a dressing room at the theater, Jared and Fenix are instantly and insanely attracted to each other. They get that not everyone understands, but their feelings are so much, so fast, and they just need to spend every moment together.
Fenix is a star on the rise and Jared’s life and career is in London. When Broadway comes calling, Fenix might want to be careful what he wishes for, as chasing one dream means leaving the other behind.
Love at first sight. The author, Kostova, believes in it and after you read Dance and spend time with Jared and Fenix, you may just believe in it as well. Love and lust at first sight does not always work well in a book, but it absolutely works here and it works oh so well.
Jared and Fenix, as well as the theater setting, pulled me in from the first word. Two different guys who share the love of the theater with Jared being more of the actor and Fenix being a professional dancer. At their first meeting, Jared is so thrown by his reaction to Fenix as something wakes up inside of him and points and shouts that Fenix is the guy for him. Kostova explores and showcases the craziness and intensity of seeing that person for the first time. We can certainly feel the instant attraction Jared is dealing with as he sees Fenix for the first time:
Jared knew he was screwed the moment a pair of pale blue eyes fell on him.
The man was exquisite…. He’d never, ever, wanted to tackle someone, rid him of all his clothes, feel every inch of his skin under his tongue and fuck him until they both dropped of exhaustion, without so much as a ‘hello’ first.
“Hi,” Jared said and smiled. There. The ‘hello’ was out of the way. Could they move on to fucking now?
And it does not take them long at all to do just that (and see it just makes you want to read more).
The story is told in alternating POVs, which works perfectly (yep I am a big fan of that). When circumstances have them moving in together temporarily after only a few days, sure it was fast, but for me, it was believable with these two, and they address the issue of it just never having been the way it is between the two of them. Jared is the one who is the more grounded of the pair. He genuinely wants Fenix to have the best of everything and is incredibly supportive and not jealous, which is rare in their theater world, as he knows Fenix will be the bigger star. Fenix has a harder time focusing and we see him really benefit from Jared’s calmer and stable demeanor.
They are physically different as well, with Jared being broader, more muscular, and described as being built like a Greek god. Fenix is more effeminate, with a lithe, pliable dancer’s body and long blonde hair. Kostova does an excellent job showing how their differences fill all the different empty spaces in each other as they entwine physically and emotionally.
The first half of the book is my favorite as Jared and Fenix meet, fall in love, and we are in their happy, love, sex, theater, all is right with the world bubble. I actually found myself slowing down my reading (I don’t really ever do that) because I wanted to stay in the world where they were together because I knew what was coming. The call, Fenix’s dream, Broadway.
When Fenix heads to Broadway he leaves Jared behind. Fenix can’t stay and Jared can’t just pick up and move to NY. When Fenix leaves it is abrupt, too abrupt. They don’t know how to make anything work with the distance and their schedules, they never have a full on conversation about their relationship, cling to each other in dark of night, and come morning Fenix is gone.
Fast forward two years. While Fenix and Jared are huge theater stars, personally, they are spiraling out of control without each other. Fenix is so broken and unhappy and hits his own rock bottom.
So here’s the thing. They have no contact in two years. They went from all to nothing and it’s not fully developed why they cut off all contact with each other. They are both clearly in so much pain that it was hard to take that they never even called each other again.
Most of these two years is told to us rather than us seeing it firsthand, but that was okay with me, because really, how much can we take as in their time apart, especially for Fenix, they went down a destructive path and they really needed to just get back together?
Kostova does a really good job with getting into both guys’ heads as they struggle to understand the depths of their emotions. We see them try to come to terms with what it is about one specific person that calls to them like no one else. The one person that no matter how long they are gone for, the loss never gets easier, and the longing never goes away. I’m going to say that perhaps not everyone will get, see it, or feel it, for a whole number of different reasons, but I certainly got it.
If there was a thread that could have been pulled to start unraveling the story, I did find it, but I just did not want to pull on it. When Fenix and Jared come face to face again, Fenix tells Jared a number of things that are hard for Jared to process. He says that he has no doubt Fenix is telling the truth because “they always said whatever was on their mind and resolved any issues the moment they arose.” Wait-what? Fenix left and two years go by and they haven’t spoken and they are both miserable…so I just can’t pull on that thread and choose to stay in the happy Jared loves Fenix bubble.
Jared’s friend Adam was fairly present in the story. He really had only one speed; jealous, possessive, and stomping around. His action and reactions are a bit over the top at times and there is only minimal explanation or development for him. He has a few side characters attached to him and lots of loose threads are everywhere regarding him. Adam is getting his own book that could explain the loose ends and there just has to be more sides to him, because what we were shown was just not very likable or developed.
There is a reasonable amount of angst and a touch of scandal. The paparazzi are prevalent and they react more like Jared and Fenix are movie or rock stars. The level of the paparazzi was much greater than I have ever seen for a theater actor, but it made its point.
Love at first sight, intense crazy desire, longing, and forgiveness, it’s all here and I am definitely a fan. When it’s over, you just may find yourself looking up the meaning of the name Fenix, and it will then end softly as our guys exit stage left.