Series: Cities of Love #1
Published by Independent on November 8th 2013
Source: Author, Publicist
Rome. The city of young lovers, dark secrets, and intoxicating new desire…
I thought I knew what I wanted in life. I thought my destiny was set. Then I met him, and everything changed.
Raphael is bold, passionate, and seductive. He sees something in me I never dreamed possible, and now he's determined to show me a world beyond rules -- a dance without limits. I want to trust him, but I'm scared. Because I know once I fall, there'll be no going back.
An innocent dancer. A mysterious stranger. As Annalise is drawn deeper into the sensual delights of Rome, she'll question everything she believed about her future. But with opening night looming, can she find the strength to risk it all? And will she be forced to choose between her one true love, ballet, and the new passion in her heart?
WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT is a beautiful, sensual novel that captivated me from Entrée to Coda and swept me up in the impossibly romantic and wonderful story of Annalise and Raphael.
Set in Rome, one of the most picturesque and seductive cities in the world, I knew I was in for a treat. I’ve wanted to read Melody Grace’s work for some time; some of my favourite bloggers are huge fans so when I read the blurb for WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT I knew this was right up my alley.
Annalise is a talented ballet dancer from New York who has lived her life in the shadow for her mother’s impressive and intimidating career. Never quite feeling like she can live up to her mom’s expectations, Annalise is packed off to Italy with one last chance to make an impression on her company and win the solo she craves will finally make all her hard work worthwhile with the added incentive of her mother’s approval and love. One of the things I loved most about this book was the attention to detail when it came to the sacrifice and work that must be put in to have even half a chance at a career as a dancer. The long hours, the brutal injuries and the lack of social life not to mention the emotional and physical ramifications on a young woman’s body and mental health as deprivation becomes a way of life. It was equally fascinating and heartbreaking to read and really helped me connect with Annalise’s character.
When she meets the enigmatic Raphael, the differences between their approaches to their love of dance are startling. Raphael oozes the raw talent and passion that Annalise craves and through their encounters we see her spirit and longing to connect her dance and life together in a way she never thought was possible.
I really liked Annalise although she frustrated the hell out of me and for ages I couldn’t figure out why. Her naïveté and inexperience meant I feared at times that she was carelessly throwing away her livelihood when she caught the eye of Raphael but it was to be expected. Her youth and sheltered upbringing meant that she was incapable of always looking at things with rationale and it meant she inevitably made mistakes. As the book went on I grew protective of her and looked upon her as a little sister so I was fiercely emotional at times with how she behaved. It’s not often I feel like that about a character and I loved how Melody Grace crafted characters so real and flawed that I grew to love her and expect – no demand the development that I was rewarded with. Her relationship with her mother, a woman, incapable of allowing herself to be free of the brutal world of competition and status was distressing to witness and I was glad that Annalise had fabulous characters like Rosalie and Karla to have her back and support her in ways her mother could never comprehend.
Raphael was a great character, I loved his emotion and hunger for life and love and pleasure. Dealing with his own insecurities has meant having to say goodbye to people he loves and I loved the dichotomy with Annalise who is doing the exact opposite out of her own fears. I loved how their romance developed, it was never rushed in my opinion and while I think people could make accusations of insta-love I think it was more the fervour of Annalise’s unearthed feelings and her youthful enthusiasm and inexperience that creates that impression. The chemistry was so romantic and the sex was blistering hot and erotic yet never gratuitous.
I loved Melody Grace’s writing. At first it was exasperating I admit because it seemed at times like just a bunch of romantic words and phrases pushed together and while lyrically beautiful created a bit of a disconnect for me. However as I grew to know the characters and care for them so deeply it all came together beautifully. It was like the different elements of the dance, at first seemingly unrelated that melded together to form a true performance that was seamlessly elegant and fluid like the beautiful dance of love that Raphael and Annalise experienced in their love.
At its heart while truly romantic WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT is a story of self discovery – being true to yourself and finding your path and the people who will accept and love you no matter what. A story worth remembering. Wonderful.