I'm a sucker for books about dance and ballet - especially romance. I think the passion of dance makes it a compelling subject, and that same obsessive drive that fuels the characters' passion for dance pairs so well with passions of a different kind. PAS DE DEUX definitely fills this need. It's about two characters named Zachary and Mina. Zachary is in the process of creating a stage-adaption of Alexandre Dumas's La Dame aux Camélias called "The Lady in Red." When he sees Mina in person for the first time, he knows she'll be perfect for the part. He also knows he must have her.
There is so much to love about this book. The writing has a poetic, dreamy quality that fits with the surreal ballet scenes and the romantic scenes between the two leads. It has diversity, and does so in a beautiful and respectful way. Mina is black, and talks about some of the difficulties that has caused her in her career when it came to getting her foot into the door and finding roles. There's a touching scene when Mina is a guest speaker at a ballet class for low income children, and one of the little girls wants to touch Mina's curly hair to see if she is like her. It made me remember when that little boy wanted to pat President Obama's head; Turner really captures the quiet joy of seeing someone who is like you doing what you want to do and succeeding.
Of course, Zachary also has a deep back story. He is the victim of sexual abuse, and exhibits PTSD in a really realistic way (with some trigger scenes that may be uncomfortable for some readers). After being passed from foster home to foster home, he ends up with a Latinx family and the scene with them was so cute and heartwarming. Mina's relationship with her mother is loving but distant and the overbearing, smothering affection that Zachary's family pours on him provides a stark contrast.
The reason I'm only giving it three stars is that there are portions where the book felt very slow for me. The lovely writing could, on occasion, spin out into pure melodrama, and there are only so many times that I could stand to see Mina cry out, "je t'aime, je t'aime, je t'aime!" or "merde, merde, merde!" during sex scenes (even if said sex scenes were well done). I set the book down and forgot about it for a little while before picking it back up (because I did want to see what happened with Mina and Zachary - I felt invested). Also, there's a weird criminal subplot involving murder and theft that comes out of left field and feels a bit too "soap opera," if you know what I mean.
If you enjoy well written erotica and stories about dance, you should definitely pick up Lynn Turner's PAS DE DEUX. It reminded me of Katherine Locke's SECOND POSITION, although not quite as angsty and with a happier ending. I can see this author becoming very successful in the years to come and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next. (There's a serious dearth of well-written erotica out there, as I'm sure you'll agree.)
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars