Second Position (District Ballet Company #1)
by Katherine Locke.
Young love has barely gotten off the ground for ballet dancers Aly and Zed when a tragic car accident changes everything. Formerly inseparable, the accident causes a rift, and they find themselves on separate, solitary paths headed in opposite directions. Four years pass. Zed has struggled to find a new life and career for himself outside of ballet. Aly, still the in-demand principal ballerina, finds herself spiraling further into a mental breakdown. When a chance meeting brings them back together, it’s a second chance to work through the fallout of their accident and see what’s on the other side.
This is a contemporary New Adult romance. Not my usual review-fodder, but worth talking about, because it’s not your usual romance setup. Zed is an amputee, and Aly struggles with an eating disorder. Dancing used to be what brought them together, how they connected. Now he can’t dance, and everyone thinks dance is what drove her to her disorder and breakdown. Their journey as they navigate this very fraught and complicated dynamic makes for very interesting reading. And it rings true, from a psychological perspective – the characters feel real and believable while dealing with all of this. My favorite parts in the book were actually the dialogue-only scenes between Aly and her therapist. Not because the romance storyline was lacking, but because the therapy scenes were just so well written. And important. Fiction, especially romantic fiction, doesn’t often give readers lead characters who have to directly face down these particular demons.
The downside is that every scene with Aly & Zed together is very, very angsty. Understandable, as they have a lot to work through, but sometimes I wanted them both to just chill and relax and not react so very strongly to everything. That part did get a little old for me.
But overall, this was a good read, and a nice departure from the normal romance genre tropes.