Since she was a little girl, all she ever wanted to do was dance…
But what happens, when the ones meant to protect you above all others are the ones to hurt you the most?
For Lilly, it was easier to hide within herself and her dancing.
Until the right someone comes along and gives her a reason to fight back. He helps her trust again. She inspires him to dream again.
With one more performance, her dream is within her reach. Her past keeps her struggling for her future but will she let it stand in her way of her dream too?
Will her dream come true? Does she have what it takes? Can she overcome the demons of her past and find herself again?
Love, Humor, Passion, Artistry, a story of acceptance.
***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review and participation on this tour
+++Contains triggers: abuse, assault, violence
READ THIS BOOK IF:
- You like feisty female protagonists with tons of fun lines and sensuality
- Dancing is your passion
- Your sibling means the world to you
- Pretty Dancer is a heartbreaking and emotional recovery story after horrible trauma. The fear, the flashbacks, the pain, and the mystery will all draw you in. There are secrets, terrible ones on the horizon and they pop up suddenly. Pretty Dancer does a stunning job of channeling the pain, hurt, and confusion into something beautiful, into an exploration of passion. When Lilly dances, it’s cathartic and uplifting, you feel her pain and past lessening, and her strength is just wow.
- Siblings are everything in this story. The bond between Lilly and her brother is heart-warming and poignant. He’s her knight and she adores him. That love leaps off the pages. They care for each other so deeply; it’s like breathing for them, completely natural. It’s compelling. Their interactions are that perfect combination of teasing and fierce protectiveness. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with their love for each other.
- Lilly is fabulous. She’s bold and fierce and passionate. She doesn’t take any animosity from anyone; she speaks her mind, and is unafraid to throw a few punches. Lilly is loyal above all else. Her past haunts her but doesn’t rule her. She’s terrified sometimes and it makes it so easy to connect with her on an emotional level because each pang of heartache, fear, and confusion are powerfully written.
- Carter and Lilly are adorable. The way he drawls out pretty dancer or pretty girl…Victorian-style swoon fest. When he calls her every night just to hear her voice…OMG it’s impossible not to fall. Carter has his own demons that make him feel unworthy and caused him to act out in the past. He’s a mystery that you can’t wait to solve. When Carter sings to Lilly. Speechless. Total, absolute adoration and love.
- Andrea. That Texan. Those Southern phrases. Be still my heart.
- The “enemies” are the stereotypical cheerleaders and a bit cliché.
- The pacing is off. So much of the story happens later in the book that some of the first half drags with nothing much happening. There is a build up of attraction between Lilly and Carter but even that is a little more muted than I’d expected.
- Secondary characters were interesting but fleeting. There were more of the bratty cheerleaders than the cool kids like Greg and their lunch crew. I would have liked to see more of those interactions.
My heart thumps hard inside my chest. All I hear are my own deep breaths filling the darkness around me. I count them silently as I release and inhale.
Soft blue lights come on, mixing with the white, giving my skin a blue hue. I know I have seconds before the music will start and I’m expected to move. To show everyone something remarkable, memorable, different. Personal, even if they’ll never know just how personal it is. I’m expected to pull emotions from them as I mirror those same emotions across the stage. Make them feel everything that I feel in that moment, sadness, hurt, struggle, and the moment when I realize that I’m stronger than the demons trying to pull me under. I’m expected to take them on a journey through my recovery. My own struggle to fight my way through the darkness of my past into someplace better, someplace I want to be, someplace where I finally break free of all that once held me down.
In that place, I learn that I can not only survive it, but overcome it. And so I do. I dance.
Just like I did when I was practicing in the studio, I mimic the girl I see dancing in my head.
The music ends abruptly. I hit my last pose and stop. For a few endless moments in time, all I hear again are my own deep breaths.
My name is Cora Graham. I live in Northwest Arkansas with my wonderful husband and two awesome children, our sweet dog Carly and not so sweet cat Mr. Gru. I am a stay at home mother of two very energetic, very handsome (not that I’m biased or anything), imaginative, keep me on my toes every second of the day little boys. The thing I absolutely love to do most in life is spend time with my family.
I’m a pretty boring, quiet person in reality. I have an unhealthy (what the husband thinks) addiction to coffee. I need coffee in a don’t talk to me until I’ve had my first sip kind of way. When I’m driving alone in my van (that I love) I happen to think I’m the best singer in the world and there is no song I can’t sing. Don’t laugh, you know you do it too. And to my husbands baffled amazement, I love love love martial arts movies. They’re my guilty pleasure.
What no one knows about me (until now) is that I’ve always had these imaginary conversations flowing through my head, with these imaginary people, telling me their imaginary stories. Since having kids of my own, I’ve discovered a bravery I didn’t know I had. I tell my boys to be brave in all things, there is nothing they can’t do or become. Of course with kids, those dreams can change daily. It’s their bravery and dreamful little minds of becoming a scientist, policeman, firefighter (I’ve even heard ninja) that gave me the inspiration to do what I’ve always done in my head. Tell stories. My hope is that people will love reading my stories as much as I’ve come to love writing them.
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