Title: In the Spotlight
Author: Shona Husk
Publisher: Escape Publishing / Harlequin Enterprises, Australia
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 135
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.63 stars out of 5
A diva who lives for the spotlight, a sailor deeply in the closet, a love that will change them both.
Ripley Malone is returning to Perth in triumph. A principal ballet dancer in a production that has critics raving, he is an unqualified success, and all the small-minded people that made his life hell can kiss his lycra-covered ass. But behind the makeup and the glitter and the costumes, Ripley is beginning to tire, tire of the competition, the drive, the endless parade of meaningless lovers.
For Pierce Lovell, joining the Navy was a way out of rural Victoria, but becoming a submariner comes with its own set of challenges. The close living quarters and long months away are awkward enough without adding any extra tension around his sexuality. The fear is probably in his head, but he isn’t taking any chances with his career. He gets by on anonymous one-night-stands every time they come to shore and keeps his heart well-shielded. But one night with Ripley opens the tantalising possibility of more.
Through a mistake Ripley is injured. He can’t dance. His wings are clipped and he crashes down and hits the earth hard. Pierce knows their affair can’t possibly end in anything but heartache, but he can’t stay away. As Ripley heals and reassesses his life, he is determined not to make the same mistakes again. That means letting someone see the vulnerable side of him. But vulnerability for Pierce could cost him everything.
“In the Spotlight” reads at times like stream of consciousness … from someone with a short attention span. For example:
It had been in dangerous territory all week. He glanced at the dragon on his arm. They were well into heart-eating dragon territory. It hadn’t been fed in several years. He’d vowed not to feed it. And yet there he was. He’d wanted Pierce to treat him like just another casual fuck because then he’d been able to pretend that’s all it was. I’ll get a second key. If we’re going to fuck each other over, might as go all in.
Pierce and Ripley’s characters are undeveloped in that while we get some background and behind-the-scenes details about Ripley and his dancing career, we really learn nothing about Pierce’s job or day-to-day life as a submariner. There are a few on-page (lightly detailed) sex scenes and not a lot of spark or sizzle between the two men so it’s difficult to sense an emotional connection.
“In the Spotlight” is a tie-in to Husk’s series “Face the Music” and apparently Ripley had a brief scene or two in that series, and a “Face the Music” main character (Dan) is featured in a few “In the Spotlight” scenes. Because we don’t know much about Dan (and get little background information), those scenes felt disjointed. The main impetus (Ripley’s injury) doesn’t happen until around 60% into the book and for a short book, the pace was very slow. At the end, I was left feeling there were too many mundane details and not enough about Ripley’s father and his Parkinson’s disease (Ripley and his brother worry if they carry the Parkinson’s gene) which was an interesting subplot.
The premise of this book piqued my interest, and while I liked the bones of the plot, the author’s choppy writing style and the story’s slow pace were too much for me to overcome.
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