Review: Dance (West End #1) by Teodora Kostova

Jared Hartley is happy. He has a starring role in a popular West End musical, great friends, adoring fans and his own flat in Central London. A relationship is not something he has ever really wanted. Making big plans for the future is not in his nature – Jared is content with his single status and enjoying all the benefits of that lifestyle. He doesn’t even realise something is missing in his life.
Until he meets Fenix.

Fenix Bergman has a dream – to perform on Broadway. When he gets offered the lead role in Poison – a new musical based in London, he accepts, immediately recognising the huge potential of the show.

Fenix thinks he has his life completely figured out – he will move to London, help Poison become the new West End hit and bide his time until Broadway comes knocking on his door. He has never wished for anything else but proving to himself and the world that he is a performer worthy of the biggest theatre stage.
Until he meets Jared.

Jared and Fenix’s lives collide and they fill each other’s missing pieces. Neither of them expects to feel so much, so fast for the other.

Neither of them expects to need someone so badly when love hasn’t even been in their plans.

But when Fenix’s star becomes too bright for London, will the dream he’s chased all his life ruin the dream he’s holding in his hands?

Will he survive getting everything he’s ever wanted?

Will Jared?

Hot cover, right? Paired with a promising (albeit long) blurb. The cover is my favorite thing about this book. I can stare at it all day.

This is MF author Teodora Kostova's debut MM Romance story based on an insta-love moment between theater performers, Fenix and Jared. They have a lot of sex in short period. They go through volatile ups and downs and whirlwind love throughout the novel from the moment they are together and they are together for all but 15% of the book, so that is saying a lot. set in the West End in London, the two are given a story fitting to how they were written.

I will be totally honest, this type of writing style does not work for me.

This is all telling, no showing with characters that relate to pop culture fairly well and leaves no legwork for the brain. It 's a very popular style of writing. I'm not knocking it, sometimes you just want a book to escape from reality where nothing needs to make sense as long as you get a beginning, a middle and HEA, who cares about the details? Who cares if the characters read like a early 2000's soap opera? Who cares if there are adult men acting like teenagers? This works better if you don't want substance in your fiction (and substance equates to depth and dimension - not the oodles of sex or MANtrums (Fenix needs a nap with all his hissy fitting)

And you know what the kiss of death in a story is for me? When the main characters are considered perfect.  You open the door to prove how imperfect the characters really are, no matter much it's stuffed down a reader's throat (and there is tons of repetition so it's said A LOT) Jared was "beautiful" and "perfect". Fenix was "beautiful" and "striking" and "perfect". Everyone wanted in their pants, paparazzi were all over them, all their childish antics were excused because their love is a love I guess this mere mortal can't understand.

This is Fenix:
Striking ice blue eyes, everyone wants him and he is as deep as a Ken doll. Ladies and gents, are you interested?
This is Jared:
His hair is darker and his eyes are navy blue but the scowl is spot on because he's super jealous and possessive of Fenix. You can't stare at Fenix too long or he'll mess you up. And then have massive amounts of hawt sex to make up for his lack of characteristics. And lack of depth, he's just as hollow as Fenix.
Aren't they dreamy?

The main characters start off basically the same person. They know what each other are thinking from the moment they meet. Both had tragedies seven years ago, they are only children, they perform for the theater.  They can tell what the other characters' are feeling and thinking too with mere glances. Hell in the beginning, their best friends had the same reactions and emotional range, they were basically the same person too. No real distinction with those two until later in the story but it was faint.

I have a simple way of seeing if a story has substance because there's too much sex to cover the main characters not having enough charisma to carry on this too long novel (the last 22% was unnecessary) take out the the main characters have a leg to stand on? No? Then you have a weak story. These two fell into instalove insta-dick. They had nothing going for them but sex/lust in the beginning. And another popular writing technique along with the major telling is having the characters narrate the story through unnatural dialogue. It didn't happen all the time but it was a major chunk. It's a pet peeve of mine. But this is Kostova's "West End", so it works over there. *shrugs*

I noticed my status updates developed a pattern, a formula if you will, so I'll share.

There were 3 sex scenes in the first 10%, 5 in the first 20% and their erections kept going for 48 hours; no rest periods necessary. Then, we have the co-dependent fluff, possessive, I love you - let's make rash life decisions for the next 30%. Then at 50% the imminent break up where they had miscommunication tantrums.

The sweet spot was the next 15% where the protagonists were separated, I got to see a hint of character but it got slammed by more telling, everybody is hating on them because Fenix chose to be promiscuous in his off period and Jared turned into an emotionless Ken doll, suffering for two years. They stopped being in each other's pocket and basically the same character and finally there were two separate main characters.

Then 65% happened, which was the reunion! The two are super attracted to one another because they are perfect, striking, ice blue eyes and Scandinavian cheekbones (the author liked to point this out a bit) so what do Jared and Fenix fall back on? That's right, sex.

The sex was hot but repetitive with a variation of "fuck me hard", pre-lubricated condoms, anal stretching and lube use, like a gay sex equation. I started to yawn in the latter sex parts (me? can you believe it?) and was happy for the fade to black bits. I forgetting something? Oh yes, the last 22% or what I like to call it, everything but the kitchen sink was added to make a wow factor. That last fifth was so unnecessary, there is a sex tape, death, fist fight, screaming, MANtrums on octane and then a police investigation that gets partially solved by a childish bitchout on the phone. The story was over earlier than 78% but for reunion and drama sake's it should have ended there.  It's thrown in for entertainment value but I'm in that outlier reader population that didn't find it amusing. I don't need repeat scene rehashing to be beaten over the head while reading, I get the point.

To me, the story was weak, the cover was the best part. I did not like either main character but it's not their faults, it's how they were written.This is a popular book, the author has a het following that I'm sure will breach over to this series. For a first time MM novel, it's not the worst I've read, the style is not to my taste, sadly. Maybe if I read this ten years ago, I'd have rated this higher. Thankfully, it did not read like disguised MF romance...mostly (there were a few shaky parts but I won't bring them up), props to that.

So in closing:

I doubt I'll be reading book #2 that is being released in the upcoming weeks but you never know maybe I'll need a book where I can turn off my brain. My rating varies, I might come back and stick with the lower end, but it's in the 2-2.5 Hearts range.

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