How high do you dare to dream?
How much do you give up for it?
How far are you ready to go?
How much are you prepared to loose?
Amour Amour is the story of Thora James, an acrobat gymnast and amateur aerialist, who dreams of making it to one of the best circus shows of the world, Las Vegas’ Amour. A rare lead position has opened up in Amour and the show producers are looking for a female gymnast who has it in her to shine on stage. If Thora lands the role, it means a minimum one year contract with Amour, not to mention the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
No one believes Thora can make it. Her parents expect her to play it safe and finish her remaining year of college education in accounting, which she got through a gymnastics scholarship. Her best friend and fellow gymnast Shay is strongly against her up and leaving everything she has, for a pipedream she wants to chase. He reminds Thora repeatedly that she cannot dance, has an average face that is forever fixed in a scowl and is too tight laced to perform with the kind of sensuality required for a love ballet. Her dream is impractical. Her hopes are childish. Her move to Las Vegas doesn’t make sense.
I’m average. And the longer Shay stares at me, I feel it. And I want to be more than that. Doesn’t everyone?
When he meets my eyes, he shakes his head at me. “You’re one in a million, Thora. It’s a pipe dream, you realize this?”
I nod. “Yeah, I know. But if I don’t believe in myself, then who will?”
But then being practical, mature and sensible is not doing it for Thora anymore. She wants more from her life. She wants Amour. So for once in her sensible sheltered proper life, Thora James takes a risk, packs a suitcase and heads to Vegas. Which is no fairytale. Thora doesn’t dazzle people in her audition. How she first meets Nikolai Kotova, Amour’s male lead and star performer, is embarrassing. Seeing him next day at her audition bashes the last dregs of self confidence she had. After a humiliating five minutes in spotlight, everyone just reiterates what Thora’s family and friends have been telling her all along- she isn’t good enough.
Now Thora James can go back home to Cincinnati Ohio, or stay put, train and perfect her form, and wait for another position or chance to come along. A chance does come by, though not in the form of a role in a show. It comes by in the least expected form of Nikolai Kotova when he decides to help her feed her dream and not give up on herself.
“I admire your courage. I know what you’ve given up to be here. I know the kind of artist it takes to land a role. I know that you won’t receive one on your own. And I imagine you, myshka, two years from now, working at Phantom with the same aspirations, the same dreams, in the same place where you are now. It’s wasted courage. And wasted love. You shouldn’t have to waste those things.”
And overwhelmed. When someone reaches out and gives you a hand—for no other reason than to see your success—it’s powerful. And rare.
He wipes beneath my eye with his thumb. “I’d rather feed your hunger than watch you starve”
“I’m clawing at something that doesn’t want me. And to say goodbye is like severing a part of me that I can’t easily replace.”
“The things greater than us, Thora, they’re not impossible. It’s just fear talking, telling you that you can’t when you can. I know you can.”
I loved the book. The writing is good. The story moves beautifully. Thora’s struggles with family, money, self doubt and the development of her art were real. The sweat and tears and bruises were real. How she keeps fighting for her dreams, to partly save face with her family and partly because she had come too far to fail and give up, was very real too. The way Thora’s relationship develops with Nikolai, slow and steady, in fact the way Nikolai’s character is uncovered layer by layer, is amazing.
“He is power. Man. And strength. He is charm and desire and indestructible things.
I want to emit an equivalent passion. I want to be strength and desire. But I’m not sure how to match him and still move. It’s easy to be confident in the face of average-standing competition. It’s hard to pretend you’re something greater in the face of someone who’s already beyond great.”
“I’m in love with you,” I whisper.
He tries to smile but his eyes flood instead. “Don’t love me more than your dreams, myshka. Because I love you too much to let you give them up for me.”
Nikolai stands tall, beckoning me, and I leap with all my strength. He bends only slightly, my left leg catching above his shoulder as I latch onto him. The gasp from the audience is the last thing I hear, blocking out the rest.
I clutch his hair, and he grips my back, our inhales in sync. Our exhales timed. My heart explodes. In a billion pieces at the way he stares at me. At how he holds my face, caringly, like the love of his life just ran into his arms. He whispers something in Russian that I know means: I love you.
The idea of giving everything you have, to a dream, might be old, but the way Krista Ritchie does it in Amour Amour touched me. In places where a lot of books fail to touch.
I’ll be honest. I laughed. I cried. I didn’t sleep all night and kept reading and had a fight with the husband for not sleeping all night and crying and breaking my eyes in the process. Kindles were threatened. But I seriously couldn’t put Amour Amour down before I finished it. There was the glamor and showmanship associated with the hit Vegas show. There was the dreamy athletic, six foot five, chiseled and ripped, completely dedicated to his art, serious Russian, Nikolai Kotova. There were real problems of making it in the strange fast city of Vegas when you literally have nothing to fall back on other than a couch in a friend’s home and fierce stubborn will. As a nice bonus, the side characters were well fleshed out and individually interesting. The way Thora’s life unraveled and how she found her direction again was inspiring.
“I’m average. I’ve been average most of my life, but there are moments where I feel extraordinary. Invincible. Able to conquer any fear and step outside any box. There is no illusion, no fantasy. I can climb a forty-foot pole. I can fly eighty-feet in the air. I can be taller than tall. It’s a dream that I’m living. Every day. With him.”
All in all, five out of five stars to this lovely book and I’d recommend it to my friends any day. Good job Krista Ritchie.