I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Two years of living with his controlling boyfriend left Chico worn down long before that boyfriend revealed he’d been seeing someone else. With no other choice, Chico moves in above his cousin’s garage in a small town in the redwoods, where he merely goes through the motions. To get him out of the house, his cousin pushes him to volunteer at a local dance studio to help with their annual show.
He’s not expecting to end up in a dance class, or to start feeling alive again in the arms of his dance instructor. Rafael is the studio owners’ son and was once a well-known dancer in his own right, but now enjoys being a teacher. Although Chico likes him, he’s afraid of taking a chance. But Rafael is determined, and it only takes one dance for Chico to start to realize he might still have something to learn.
I am in love with this book. Totally and completely in love. In fact I am so in love with it I would marry it.
Let’s see if I can review this and make sense of the feelings I am having. Oh boy.
We meet Chico as he is trying to get his life back. After being dumped by his ex-boyfriend two years ago in a horrible way, he is living above his cousin Davi’s garage in the Northern California Redwood tourist town of Brandywine. Chico is doing the minimal human functions needed when we meet him; he goes to work and comes home, he maybe eats something other than ice cream and he sleeps. He hides in his apartment and thinks about where his life was with John, where it is now and if there is something worth it in the future. Upon the encouragement and basic demands of Davi, Chico agrees to volunteer at the Winters Dance Studio and help with the prop preparations for the upcoming recital. When he gets to the studio, one push of the wrong door lands him literally in the arms of Rafael Winters… dance teacher, keeper of moments and swoonster extraordinaire.
Wow. This book has major feels and major moments and moments are everything. This is the first book from this author from me and I need a big old V8 style smack in the head for that grievous fault alone. I can’t even think about how many times I got choked up with Chico (pronounced Sheeco, with a soft Ch…) so many times. I mean, just the pronunciation of his name is vital to who he is. That softness of the Ch to say his name, it’s everything and it’s so simple. The way he talks to himself, the chatter in Chico’s head is heartbreaking and then something happens to him, he feels Rafael’s hands on him leading him through a Waltz. Again, a simple dance that builds into much more that I can’t take it. I can’t take the feels. Who am I kidding, I can take them and I want more. Gimme more!
…trust can’t be rushed, or forced, it must grow. We watch it grow.
It’s hard to deal when life changes. When you’ve been with someone, lived in a city, worked and just been who you were for so long to have your life suddenly change, it’s tough. I got that Chico wanted to hide, he wanted to not deal with people and I totally got his rambling about himself, spilling his guts whenever he talked because sometimes, when you spend so much time alone… you forget how to not talk about yourself when you’re the only companion you have. So yeah, I got all of that with Chico and I found it endearing as all heck.
And then there is Rafael. Good lord that man. Not only is he sexy with his dancing but the man can flirt his tight butt and muscled thighs off! OMG! I have a list of MC’s who are masters at the swoony phrases and yeah, who would think telling someone they are skittish as a deer would make you melt? Rafael can because it’s not what he says but how he says it and the why of it all… he’s so good. SO good at it. Sigh.
I can’t forget the secondary characters of Davi, Chico’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Winters who added depth, guidance and acceptance to both Rafael and Chico in oh so many ways. Ugh. So good.
That’s the fun part about ballet or any kind of storytelling. It means whatever you want it to mean and can become whatever you want it to become. It’s personal to everyone.
And that is exactly what this story does. Not only does Chico see personal connections to The Clockwork Dancer, the recital the dance studio is putting on, but as the reader you see it and this reader made a few personal connections to both stories. Goodness. This book, it was so much. It has so much emotion and I am a mess as I write this. A total mess and I have am losing my ability to form proper sentences to describe how much I needed this book.
I could go on and on about this but doing so would lead to me spoiling it and I don’t do that.
But this book… Le sigh. The dancing in this is amazing and it’s metaphorical to the relationship, per the title. They say life is a dance and when you find that person who will not only lead you, but accept your lead, it’s magical, it’s romantic, it’s so very lovely and at the end, at this end, it’s pure perfection.
Dancing Lessons was a fantastic, heartwarming story of loss and love. Of rebuilding yourself and accepting that things change but that change is good. It’s about having the bravery to go for what you want and not be locked to someone’s expectations of you. It’s about lessons of dance, life and love. It’s just… gorgeous.