Series: Cities of Love #1
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: November 8, 2013
Format: eARC, 260 pages
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Rome. The city of young lovers, old 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 romantic 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?
“There are some things in life we know to be true, beyond logic or reason, science or faith. Irresistible truths, they’re called, the things we seem to instinctively grasp, as if the knowledge were imprinted deep in our DNA, written on the very fiber of our souls. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known I would be a dancer. From the moment my mother laced a pair of tiny pink ballet slippers on my feet, my destiny was set. I would be just like her, a prima ballerina, one of the greats; gliding across those hallowed stages, moving my audience to tears. Nothing else mattered. Nothing would ever be so true. Or so I thought.”
Annalise is a ballet dancer. She’s always wanted to be a ballet dancer. It’s her passion. Her life’s calling. Until, that is, she meets a man named Raphael in Rome. Now she’s torn between the life she always thought she wanted and the desire, attraction and connection she feels with this man.
“His name was Raphael. He blazed into my life, bright as a comet, a brilliant supernova that blotted out the sun and sent my careful plans shattering into mere darkness. I burned for him the way I’d never known before; for the first time, I understood what it was to be alive.”
Raphael, a dancer of a completely different type, shows Annalise what it really means to connect with another person. What it means to live and love. Their passion and connection was so real, the sexual tension so palpable, it all leapt off the page (or screen, as the case may be). I don’t think I’ve ever read anything as sensual as the scenes where they are just dancing with each other and connecting with one another. This book was steamy and sexy before it even got to the more explicit scenes. This couple was combustable.
“And once you feel love, real love, you can never forget the taste of those kisses, the sun-drenched mornings, the secret pleasures of the gasping, restless nights.”
“This isn’t just a fascination, an idle crush, no, this is something deeper, a desire that snakes through my veins, hot and hungry.”
Rome was the perfect setting for this story. It was magical and the author’s depiction made me feel like I was right there with Annalise and Raphael. The detail was incredible. I don’t think this particular story would have worked the same anywhere else. The city was so real and so important that it was almost a character in and of itself. I could feel the energy of the city. I adored both Annalise and Raphael. They were so evenly matched, so absolutely perfect for each other. Their journey was beautiful and magical and hot and passionate. They found what they needed, what they didn’t even know was missing, and found themselves along the way.
“Is this what people feel all the time? I marvel at the idea. How am I supposed to function, to focus, now that I know that he is out there in the city somewhere? That he might be thinking about me…”
“For the first time in my life, I have something I want just as much as ballet. Maybe even more.”
Without giving much away, I just want to point out that this isn’t a story about a woman ditching everything she loves and believes in and losing sight of her goals just because she’s met a man. It was far more complex than that. Annalise truly discovered herself during her time in Rome and with Raphael. She learned what it meant to have a fully-enriched life. She was still dedicated and passionate about dance, but she learned there was more to life than what she’d known all along. I could feel how conflicted she was about these new feelings and wants and needs. I think that’s what made me connect with her so easily.
“Dance with me, Annalise,” Raphael whispers. “Dance with me, and see what it feels like to dance without rules, without boundaries. From the soul.”
With Every Heartbeat made me fall in love. It made me fall in love with the characters, Rome and love itself. It was a beautiful coming-of-age tale. A story about what happens when you meet the person who makes everything and everyone else pale by comparison. A story about how that one person can cause a huge shift in the goals, dreams and truths you always thought you knew about yourself. It’s not about losing who you are, but about finding out who you’re truly meant to be. It was beautiful and sexy and completely wonderful.
It looks like Paris is the next stop on Melody Grace’s Cities of Love tour. I can’t wait. I don’t know where else she plans to take us, but I’ll be eagerly following along the journey. If the other books in the series are as enchanting as this one (which I have no doubt they will be), I’ll have added a new series to my list of all-time favorites.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All quotes come from the review copy and may differ from the final version.