~ About the Book ~
Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House all figured out until her first love, renowned German dancer Claus Gert, returns to Georgia to win her back. Despite a promising start towards her ballet career and pending marriage to landscape architect, Peter Engberg, Ana wonders if her dreams of dancing at the Met are as impossible as her previous romantic relationship with Claus.
Then, an on-stage kiss between Ana and Claus changes everything.
Convinced the kiss is more than a one-time mistake, Peter breaks off their engagement. With an old dog crippled by arthritis and dreams deferred but not left behind, Ana moves to Germany to be with Claus. But the ghost of his late wife, Ana’s own feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company are a high price for a shot at success. Ana seems on the verge of having everything she ever dreamed of, but will it be enough?
~ Excerpt ~
Sergei Prokofiev’s music filled my heart with adolescent passion as I rehearsed the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene with Claus. Each haunting note set me on fire, a slow-burning and all-consuming fire that was as pure as it was intense. I was Juliet, and I was supposed to be in love. It was allowed. On that stage, it was okay to forget how much Claus had hurt me in the past, and it was okay to show love for man other than my fiancé.
I watched Claus use up the whole stage, impressing me with the perfect combination of charisma and virtuosity, in turns and jumps that were faster and higher in person than on YouTube. Why are you here? He touched my cheek. Why after all these years?
The spell of the music and the moment slipped away.
“Ana!” The artistic director interrupted the rehearsal and stopped the orchestra. “What are you doing? You’re supposed to touch your cheek, where he just touched you. You started so strong. Wake up.” He snapped his fingers multiple times. “Let’s do it again. Focus. One hundred percent. Here. Now.”
“Great. Now I’m getting into trouble because of him,” I mumbled as I walked up to the wobbly gray balcony again, thankful my cheeks were already red from the physical exertion.
“Fine. Focus.” What if he told me he was divorced and that he’d come for me? Ssh. Stop. “Here. Now.”
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I need to get this right. This is the chance of a lifetime. Next is the Met. I can do this.
“It’s okay. It’s allowed,” I whispered to myself while taking slow, rhythmic breaths to gain control.
The conductor lifted his baton and the musicians prepared. My hands steadied and my stomach unclenched. The orchestra started. Slowly. Softly. The melody church-like as I , Lady Juliet, paced my balcony dreaming of my Romeo.
A “ta-da” in the music interrupted the melody, startling Juliet and announcing Romeo’s arrival in the shadows of the night of old Verona. “Ta-da-da.” Between the dry-ice mist and the spotlight, I couldn’t see Claus at first, and the staccato of the music reflected Juliet’s confusion.
But then—magic. The fog dissipated slowly as if it too wanted to announce Romeo’s presence. The music softened, pulsating like a heartbeat. And then I saw him. My Romeo. What a vision . . . breathe. Claus kept his sand-blond hair a little longer now, wavy and just below the collar of Romeo’s puffy cream blouse. His baby face froze at the sight of Lady Juliet. Who did he see? Just Lady Juliet, or could it be he still had feeling for me? His royal-blue eyes filled with expectation.
It didn’t matter. We were on stage. We were Romeo and Juliet. I could love him again. It was allowed.
I ran down to him. The melody became fully established. Luminous. Exalted. Beautiful. We locked eyes. We locked hands. We locked hearts. And then we danced.
~ Review ~
I am undone! By the time I got to the end of this story I was a blubbering mess—in a good way. This was such a beautiful story of finding sufficiency in God, and so unique. I honestly can’t think of another story I have read like this one.
To begin with—ballet! As a classical music and ballet lover (not to mention a ballet mum), I loved entering Ana’s world. It was so obvious that the author has personal experience in this world, but even so, it’s not an easy thing to translate to the page. And yet Patricia Beal did so beautifully. She captured the music, the movement, and the emotion of those scenes in such a simple but effective way. Even if you can’t tell a plié from a retiré, you will still feel completely immersed in the dance.
But at its heart, this isn’t really a ballet story. It’s a story about a young woman who is looking to her career and her relationships for fulfilment, but constantly falling short. It’s her search to fully understand the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9—My grace is sufficient for you—and her journey to that point where she can step back and give her dreams and desires into God’s hands.
Ana experiences both angst and heartache on the journey, even as she catches elusive glimpses of the joy and peace she is trying to grasp. At times I wanted to reach out to her and say, “Please, don’t do this to yourself,” but at the same time, I was so thoroughly immersed in her character that I could understand why she made those choices, and why she thought those choices would bring the happiness and peace she was looking for. And God clearly worked through those choices, even as Ana regretted them. But even when she seems to making the right choices, circumstances beyond her control threaten to take away the peace she has finally found.
And then the ending . . . oh, the ending! I’m going to cry again just thinking about it. God truly turns Ana’s mourning into dancing in ways she could never have imagined!
This is a truly beautiful debut, and when you read the author’s notes at the end of the novel, you will understand why there is so much heart in its pages.
Patricia Beal, I am a fan for life!
I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review.
Release date: 9 May 2017
Publisher: Bling! Romance/Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
~ About the Author ~
Patricia Beal is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She is represented by Les Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency, and A Season to Dance is her debut novel. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and has worked for the U.S. Army as a writer and editor for many years. Patricia writes from El Paso, Texas, where she lives with her husband and two children.