Rating: 4.25 stars
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Charlie has trained as a gymnast with a dream of going to the Olympics his entire life and, just like that, the dream is gone. Charlie blames himself for stepping out of line just one time in his life and now he’s back on the island of Jersey trying to figure what’s next. While his mother is happy to see him, her disappointment rings loudly in Charlie’s ears and Charlie needs to find a job fast as his mother has enough financial stress in her life. The performance circus is in town, the same circus that Charlie’s mother adamantly refused to ever take him to, but they are hiring.
Darius is the star of the show. But Darius knows the years are creeping up on him and that the circus is in trouble. Darius was one half of a high-flying duo, and when his performance partner abandoned the show, the sales slowed. Once Darius gets past how attractive Charlie is, Darius sees some real potential in Charlie, although Darius is too prickly to admit it. But stellar acts aren’t polished overnight and Charlie has no intention of joining the circus.
A deal is struck for a one-night performance and, with each rehearsal, Charlie and Darius grow closer. The circus is set to continue traveling, but there are secrets hidden underneath the big top and Charlie may have found a new home flying through the air with Darius waiting to catch him.
This book brings us right into the middle of both Charlie’s and Darius’ lives where life changing events are already in progress. We start with Charlie, who is on a plane home. He has devoted his life to gymnastics and that seems to be over as something happened and the story comes out slowly. We then meet Darius on his 40th birthday. Darius’s entire life has been the circus, but with his performance partner, Louis, who was also his best friend, long time crush, and son of the circus owners, abandoning them, Darius has now become a solo act and the ticket sales are suffering.
Darius was immediately the kind of character I wanted to know more about. He keeps to himself mostly, he’s prickly, and he’s starting to feel every one of his years on the road. He can’t get over Louis leaving the circus and leaving him without a word. Louis’ family has become Darius’s family and Darius feels the pressure that the end is near. He meets Charlie under less than optimal circumstances and feels the pull of attraction, but also feels the many years that separate them.
The story and the romance here both burn slowly as we watch Charlie and Darius circle each other as their lives inevitably intertwine. The circus setting, as well as the location on the island of Jersey, are both great to read about and offered an interesting vibe to be a part of. Charlie has inner turmoil regarding performing in the circus, as his mother always made visits to the circus off limits, but so much about the circus and performing and Darius just clicks with him, as if that is where he belongs. For Darius, he doesn’t know how to hope or how to want something for himself and it was just as rewarding to see him thaw to Charlie both personally and professionally.
As I got into the story, there were a few rougher edges for me. The author lays down clues to Charlie’s story early on, but for me, it was obvious where it was going, although it did make for good reading watching the story reveal itself to the characters. Darius speaks several languages and there were lines of conversation without translations where I would have preferred to know what was being said. Also, Charlie’s gymnastics story wasn’t fully rendered for me and it was alluded to that he was a victim of predatory behavior that is never addressed. The ending leaves the men in a relatively good place, but there are areas left open with more story that wasn’t explored and, while there is an option to sign up for the author’s newsletter for additional scenes with the men, I would have preferred some of that to be addressed in the book.
Overall, Leap of Faith is worth your time for a circus setting with two well developed characters brought together by destiny.