Anastasia Mikhelson is the rising star of the New York City Ballet. She’s sacrificed creature comforts, a social life, as well as her own physical well-being for perfection in dance. Even her reputation as The Ice Queen doesn’t faze her. Though Ana’s at the peak of her career, competition from a new and noteworthy dancer puts all she’s worked for in jeopardy. While Natalie Frederico has shown herself to be a prodigy when it comes to ballet, she much prefers modern dance and living on her own terms. Life is too short for anything else. However, when the opportunity to dance with the New York City Ballet is thrust upon her, it’s not like she could say no. Dealing with the company’s uptight lead is another story, however. When the two are forced to work side-by-side, sparks begin to fly onstage and off.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
Ana Mikhelson (aka Frozen) is now and has always been focused on one thing, becoming a principle dancer with the New York City Ballet. Her life has been spent in the pursuit of this dream and nothing is going to stop her from achieving her goal. Each and every day, Ana pushes herself, she pushes her body, she uses her precious free time on review and extra practice, and denies herself every comfort. Within the company, Ana has only colleagues and no friends and until Natalie, that was a situation she was completely comfortable with.
Natalie Frederico loves to dance and has spent her life in the pursuit of her kind of dance. Though she is a classically trained dancer, Natalie has always found ballet to be too restrictive, too formal so when the New York City Ballet comes calling, Natalie isn’t sure she’s exactly cut out for the job. When she arrives in New York, Natalie is stunned to learn she will be given a lead role in a new show, in large part because of the emotion, the passion she brings to her performances. The only condition, she has to share the lead with the company Ice Queen, Ana, and they are meant to work together and learn from one another.
Ana’s technique is flawless, superb even, but she has never been able to bring any real life or emotion to her performances. Though Ana isn’t happy about having to share her lead role, even she has to admit, when Natalie dances, it is a sight to be seen. Natalie is fierce, uninhibited, and dances the music. Her technique may be far from flawless but Natalie’s performance, her presence on stage is phenomenal. Yeah, Ana can learn from that. On the flip side of this little arrangement is Natalie’s aforementioned far from flawless technique. Ana’s technique is above reproach and with a little hard work and some well-placed pointers, she is able to help Natalie shore up her own performance.
As the days and weeks go by, the entire company begins to notice some big changes in both Ana and Natalie. Frozen is thawing just a bit and Natalie’s technique is getting better and better. The two women feed off one another in the best way possible and that feeding carries over into their personal lives as well. There is no denying the attraction between the two women – it’s damn-near electric – but there are complications on both sides. Natalie is involved with another woman and Ana simply doesn’t do anything (or anyone) that might derail her career plans. Because life is generally feast or famine and the universe has a nasty sense of humor, the two women aren’t allowed to deal with just one thing at a time but a whole slew of crap simultaneously. There’s the personal, there’s the professional, and there’s the universe hates us.
The Bottom Line: First Position is my first Melissa Brayden read and I will absolutely be coming back for more of her brand of writing!! I totally enjoyed this book from start to finish. Ana and Natalie are both entirely likeable characters whose strengths and weaknesses work well together; they truly are an excellent pairing. There is just enough of the personal, the professional, and the universe hates us all mixed together, blended and balanced to keep the read moving at a strong and steady pace. There aren’t any lags or slow spots in the read and it doesn’t rush to the end as if Hell is on a horse chasing everyone. There are some naughty bits in this read and they match the everything else in the novel, strong, steady, and balanced with just the right mix of naughty and nice. Overall, First Position is a book I looked forward to getting back to each time I was forced to stop reading. Furthermore, there is a nice cast of secondary characters in this book that I would happily read about should the author choose to move this first book into a longer, more in depth series.
P.S. First Position has a truly excellent epilogue. I really like it when an author uses an epilogue to such a fantastic degree 🙂
About the author and where to find her:
Melissa Brayden is a multi-award winning author of seven lesbian romance novels and hard at work on her eighth. After ten years working in educational theatre, she has recently graduated with her MFA in Directing from Texas State University and is embracing life as a full time writer.
Melissa works really hard at remembering to do the dishes. For personal enjoyment, she spends time with her Jack Russell Terriers and checks out the NYC theatre scene several times a year. She considers herself a reluctant patron of the treadmill, but thoroughly enjoys hitting a tennis ball around in nice weather. Coffee is her very best friend. http://www.melissabrayden.com