Note: A Step Too Far is a direct follow-up to A Dance Too Far and continues the story started in the first book. As such, this review (as well as the book blurb) contains spoilers for the first book.
Ryan Harris has spent the last two years undercover, posing as Mikhail, a henchman for Dmitry Gruzdev. Ryan and his fellow agents are attempting to form a connection between Dmitry and the higher ups in the Russian mob. The job means that Ryan has witnessed things he wishes he never saw, and even participated in things he hated having to do. But maintaining his cover is essential to stopping a monster. Ryan did manage to covertly help dancer, Valentin, and his boyfriend, Max, escape Dmitry’s clutches. But now that Valentin is gone, Dmitry is looking for a new project and wants to bring in another vulnerable dancer to use.
Jake Spencer is broke, about to be evicted, and pretty desperate — just the kind of dancer Dmitry is after. When Jake forces his way into an audition with Dmitry, he thinks he has gotten his lucky break. Dmitry seems to be offering him the world, and while Jake’s instincts have him a little wary, the opportunity seems too good to pass up. Little does Jake realize that he is walking into a prison, and soon he finds himself confined to his hotel, forced to participate in sex parties, and totally under Dmitry’s control. The only bright spot is Mikhail.
Ryan knows getting involved with Jake in any way would be a colossal mistake. Not only would it jeopardize their case to get emotionally involved, but Jake doesn’t know Mikhail is really Ryan. But the attraction between the men is only getting stronger and soon they act on their feelings. With Ryan trapped between his feelings for Jake and his job as an undercover agent, things get increasingly complicated and soon secrets begin to come out. But even as Jake knows the truth about Ryan, he is still a prisoner with Mikhail and there is little Ryan can do to help. Now the men must figure out if there is a way for Jake to break free of Dmitry and for Jake and Ryan to have a real chance together.
A Step Too Far is an excellent follow-up to A Dance Too Far; in fact, I think it was even better and more exciting. As I mentioned above, this book follows directly from the first one and continues the story. While there are new main characters, you really need the backstory of the first book to fully understand this one. In many ways, the premises are similar between the books — a vulnerable dancer facing a cruel master, falling in love, but being trapped and seeing no way out. What makes this book really work, however, is watching this all happen from a new perspective. First off, we know from the start that Mikhail is really Ryan. So we have a new perspective on the events from the first book, as well as what is happening here. The events from A Dance Too Far take on a new significance now that we know the truth about Mikhail. In addition, as readers, we know what fate lies before Jake, even though he does not. It makes the early part of the book when Jake is just getting involved with Dmitry so intense, as we watch him make this huge mistake and then see the horror as he slowly comes to realize what his life has become. It is really intense and Day does such a great job of using this second book to expand the world we knew and grow the story.
The relationship builds nicely between Jake and Ryan and I appreciated that the false identity issue doesn’t drag on too far. The attraction is clear between the men from the start and soon they are working together rather than Ryan keeping secrets. There is a great chemistry between the men and I could feel both the attraction, as well as the fondness and affection the men have for each other. I enjoyed watching the transition in their relationship from Jake and Mikhail, to Jake and Ryan. I could really believe these two men were falling for one another amidst all the chaos.
The story is quite intense and just when I thought I knew how things were going to come together, it takes on a whole new level of suspense. I seriously did a double take at least twice, taken so by surprise (in a good way). The ending is exciting and super rewarding. I’ll also note that we get to reunite with Max and Valentin, which adds a nice element of closure to the overall journey.
While I felt the first story ended solidly, this was the follow up I never knew I needed. I really loved seeing how things developed in the aftermath of the first book and getting that new perspective that this story provides. I totally loved it and can definitely recommend both books.
Note: This story has a content warning for non-consensual sex. It is not explicit, however it is clear on several occasions that Jake is being forced to have sex against his will.