It’s no easy feat transitioning from the disciplined arena of competitive gymnastics to the artistic whirl of the Cirque du Monde. Kelsey Martin finds secret inspiration in Theo Zamora, a dark, taciturn trapezist–until his partner dies in a tragic accident and he decides to leave the circus for good.
Theo doesn’t understand why Kelsey reaches out to him, only that she compels him with her unique combination of innocence and recklessness. Before long the two are collaborating on an aerial silks act for a new production, the Cirque de Minuit. Theo’s impatience with Kelsey’s naivete is matched only by his passion for her, and the two soon become embroiled in a tempestuous, consuming romance.
But some still blame Theo for his partner’s accident, and danger wraps up the two performers as inevitably as the scarlet silk of their act. Theo and Kelsey must find a way to connect and trust one another as he leads her deeper and deeper into a dangerous world of control and desire.
Overall Rating: 5/5 — Definite must-read for both romance and performing arts lovers!
An act of darkness and angst, passion and drama. An aerial spectacle in dark scarlet silks. The final act of le Cirque de Minuit.
LOVED LOVED THIS STORY!!! I guess I have to admit that I really am biased when it comes to circus and performance-themed stories, especially when infused with fantasy and romance. The gymnast and performer was drawn to this story almost instantly. Being someone who knows what being an athlete and an artist is really like, I related to the characters right off the bat and I was so immersed in their world to the point that I found myself being curious enough to try aerial silk acrobatics myself—not that I actually would though.
I could see why some people would find this story heartless, though. If you’re looking for plain old romance and steam with just a hint of circus artistry and performance, then you’ll be thoroughly disappointed because this one really had a solid story of what it’s like to belong to a circus and what it really felt like to perform and lose yourself all for the sake of passion and performance. Of course, the romance was there also and was established almost instantly as well.
I really like the whole premise of this story: the troubled, dark, and mysterious legendary performer and the young and bright ingenue, who’s pretty much curious and reckless enough to try out anything in this new world that she immersed herself in. Even with those first harsh encounters between Theo and Kelsey, you can immediately feel their intense chemistry and attraction. I guess you could say that it was insta-lust, but it definitely was not love at first sight. I also didn’t know if the author meant for their encounters to be quite funny because I did find myself grinning at their back and forth witty banter. It also helped that Theo’s broken english really made me imagine him speaking english with that certain sexy French twang.
“Why are they so dark?” she asked.
“Why?” Theo wound one ankle in the fabric, at the same time he propelled himself into a lazy swing. “It’s not Cirque du Sun Shining out of your ass! It’s Cirque du Minuit. This means midnight in French. Dark, eerie, bleak.”
“Blah blah blah, instead of trying.”
Kelsey rubbed her forehead. “You’re a jerk and an asshole.”
“And you are a shriek-mouthed little witch.”
“Shriek-mouthed?” Kelsey protested. “What the hell kind of word is that? Who ever heard of ‘shriek-mouthed’?”
“So what exactly goes on at this place?”
“The typical stuff that goes on at nightclubs. You’ve been to a nightclub before, haven’t you?” At Kelsey’s negative answer, he rolled his eyes. “Well, let’s see. Vampirism. Cannibalism. Human sacrifice and necrophilia.”
To be honest, I still don’t know how to feel about BDSM. I’m really not a huge fan of it and I’ve only come across a few of BDSM-themed stories because I really just don’t see its relevance and the thrill behind it. That said, the BDSM scenes in this story did bother me a bit but I guess it could’ve been worse. It also helped that they were already in their own dark circus world to begin with that their acts of pain and pleasure didn’t seem that farfetched and weird anymore—because their world was already weird to begin with anyway. And even though some scenes weren’t really needed, I still saw the importance behind it because it was important to assert Theo’s dominance in the story and how it played with another issue at hand—what happened to Minya. But anyway, I think even without it, this story could’ve still flourished and developed beautifully.
I also commend the author for taking her time in relaying details about the whole aerial silk act, because she could’ve just resorted to describing it in a very general way. But instead, she really made you feel like you were flying alongside Theo and Kelsey and that thrilled the gymnast and artist in me more than anything in this story. I also loved the fact that there were also clear scenes of struggle, especially during Kelsey’s training. I know what it feels like to overthink a stunt before trying it to the point that fear and doubt have already gripped your body even before you actually tried it. It was beautiful to see how Kelsey let go of those inhibitions and doubt and just trusted her body and her heart in delivering a beautifully passioned performance.
The whole story was well developed and the pacing was perfect. Kelsey was really the perfect heroine to balance out Theo’s dark and brooding character. There were quite a lot of distractions and naysayers, but she did stand by him through and through. In addition, Theo also did change because of his love for Kelsey. The ending came together beautifully and I just became putty, as Theo would describe it using his squeezing hands, during his elaborate proposal because it was really so out of character for him. And P.S., I did kinda get what happened to Minya just about the time when Theo surprisingly slapped Kelsey when she let go of his hand.
“You don’t leave me. Ever. I love you.”
“I love you too,” she said, just that easily. And he believed her. He loved her and she loved him, and it wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t hurt Kelsey. But he could love her—and he did.
“Tomorrow, Marseille, act, partners. Tonight, you and me, my beautiful strong girl.” Beautiful strong stubborn fearless Kelsey.
It wasn’t his fault.
“Time to fly, ma chèrie.”