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First Position Paperback – August 16, 2016
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About the Author
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I turned off the TV, cuddled up with a blanket and my cats, and I read a book. A book written by a woman. A book about women. A book about (*gasp*) lesbians.
Today, I wanted a love story. I wanted a happy ending. I wanted it to last.
I chose First Position by Melissa Brayden (Bold Strokes Books). I've had the book for a while and hadn't gotten around to it quite yet. I thought today was a good day to read it. A lesbian romance. Yeah, that's what I needed.
I think this just might be Brayden's best work to date. If you've read my reviews of her previous work, you know that I enjoy Brayden's novels. I think she is one of our most prominent voices in Lesbian Romance. But First Position has gone to a new level.
I love the characters in this book. Ana and Natalie are delightfully different. One uptight, one laid back. One who is a technical perfectionist, one who dances what she feels. One introverted and focused, one extroverted and kind of winging it. Real opposites. But, as the saying goes, opposites attract. What's really delightful, though, is that this is a "slow burn" attraction. They don't hit it off right away. They aren't secretly lusting after each other right away. Brayden allows the relationship time to build and grow. They find a path from grudging respect to friendship to attraction. As they travel that path, they also grow as individuals. Brayden really upped her character development game here.
As always, the secondary characters are just as richly developed and used well to advance the story. I admit that I wanted a bit more resolution for Jason. Without giving anything away, let's just say that I wanted to know more about where he landed at the end of the novel. This was not a big thing, certainly not a deal-breaker. But he was the one character about whom I thought, "Where is he now?"
Overall, First Position was tightly written and sharply edited. I noticed a real honing of the language. Favorite words and phrasings were significantly reduced when compared with Brayden's previous novels. But Brayden's unique voice as an author was not lost in any way. Instead, I think it was more clearly revealed. I think there is still room to improve with future books, but, again, this was in no way a deal-breaker. Character voices were distinct, the narrative was clean, and the dialogue was crisp. All-in-all, excellent.
I've become quite the fan of audiobooks. So, I listened to First Position as I read along. I studied and practiced the performance of literature when I was in college - undergraduate and graduate schools. So, it's something that's pretty deeply set in me and close to my heart. While there is definitely a big part of me that likes to just sit back and listen, there is another part of me that likes to "see" the narrator's performance choices. Reading and listening at the same time let's me do this.
In my review of Firework, I praised Kristin Barnes as the narrator. I said that she was one of the best narrators I've heard to that point. I hold to that review. But, I've got to say, Katrina Holmes really hit this one out of the ballpark! Holmes brought life to the narration in wonderful ways. Each character was distinct without being a caricature (my pet peeve). Sure, she missed a word or two here and there. But it did not change the meaning of Brayden's writing. Overall, it was spot-on narration. Now I think she and Barnes should just take turns narrating for Brayden.
So, whether you like to read or listen, you're not going to go wrong with First Position.
The writer creates these nice characters that will steal your heart and will make you laugh. They will feel real and relatable and they will capture you. However, when the story is been built, the climax does not satisfy. You can tell what will happen from the beginning and it is really loose.
In her attempt of avoiding unrealistic clichés, the author ends up creating a very...boring climax and ending. I felt really sad at the end because of that. I would not really say it is bad, but I've read better.
Top international reviews
P.S Fun to see cameos from 4 of Brayden's well-loved previous characters in this too!
Anyhow, I loved First Position. As all the other books, it very well written and simply makes you smile.
It's an engaging love story, placed in NYC again, and as you probably gather from the title, it's all about ballet dancers.
The characters are great, and I thought they really came to life.
And yes, some of the Soho Loft characters appear very briefly at the very end.
I can't wait for the next Melissa Brayden!
Sobre First Position: Anastasia e Natalie formam um casal lindo e extremamente cativante, mesmo sendo tão diferentes uma da outra. Foi bem legal ver o crescimento das duas - a Ana aprendendo a ter um pouco mais de leveza na vida e a Natalie absorvendo uma parte da determinação da Ana. Fora que a química delas é insana. Enfim, eu praticamente virei a noite lendo sem coragem de deixar o livro de lado antes de acabar. E quando acabou, demorou de a história sair da minha cabeça. Recomendadíssimo!
Melissa Brayden has wrote some of my favourite books that i often reread. So it’s no shock to me that this book is headed for my favourite’s collection. Absolutely loved it… Every word.
Anastasia Michelson and Natalie Frederico are world apart. They both dance different styles in life and in Ballet. Ana lives for Ballet. Nothing but the her best will do and she has strived for that her entire life. She has finally got to the position she wants in the New York City Ballet and then has to share her position with a nobody who has appeared over night. Enter Natalie. Natalie is fun, outgoing and friend to everyone. Her free style interpretation of all things dance drives Ana crazy. Ana has her techniques down pat but it lacks emotion and Natalie has raw emotion but her technique is flawed. Paired together to learn from each other was never going to be a easy test. They not only learn about each others dance technique but they learn valuable life and love lessons along the way. But when the heat rises on stage it often follows off stage…
I knew i would love this book but had no idea i would completely adore it. I found myself sad when the book ended because i was so caught up in the story i felt part off it. Melissa seems to have the ability to welcome you into the world she is writing about and make you feel at home. I felt the love, the heartbreak, the lust and most importantly the heat. Even to the point that when Ana dances freestyle for Natalie in Chapter 8 i could almost hear the song ‘Read all About it. PtIII’ by Emilie Sande in my over imaginative head. i also like that Melissa seems to have a way of keeping her characters connected. We had a visit from both Adrianne and Jenna (Waiting in the Wings) and then nearer to the end Brooklyn and Jessica (Kiss the Girl) pop by for a cameo appearance. All in all i will, as i do with all my Brayden books, be adding this to my favourites and probably reading it again very soon….. Heck i might just start at Waiting in the Wings and work by way through to First Position.
5 Stars of Awesomeness… Bring on the next one! It won’t be soon enough.
You might think that doesn't sound like the opening to a glowing review, but I actually completely loved this book. I adored both of the main characters. They were fleshed out beyond the stereotypical role that they filled for an "opposite attract romance", and were more complex than they initially appear. I also liked that while they were cast into the role of rivals, it wasn't an overly jealous, mean-spirited thing. Both found things to respect about the other early on. But I did always feel a little isolated, a little outside, a little like I didn't fit in. So I definitely found a lot to relate to with both main characters in this book.
There is no denying that this book follows a formula, and is exactly what you might expect from its description. And I think that is a positive in this case. Sometimes you don't need all the twists and turns. Sometimes it is nice to pick up a book and have it be exactly what you expected and wanted it to be.