Title: The Storm Before the Calm
Author Name: Cate Ashwood
Publication Date & Length: June 5, 2015 — 200 pages
Charlie has one passion in life: dancing. It’s his salvation when it feels like the world is swallowing him whole. When his mom secretly secures him a spot in the summer intensive at the Free Rein Dance Company in New York, he is thrilled. He knows that once the summer ends, he’ll have to return to Beacon to get a job and help support his family, but for those two months, he can spread his wings.
In New York he meets Max, a junior instructor who is everything Charlie wishes he could be. Bold and self-assured, Max radiates pride in who he is. As they spend time together, Max shows Charlie what life can be like past the walls of his closed-minded home town. But Charlie doesn’t know if he’s ready to show the world who he truly is when standing in the spotlight is the last thing he wants.
I loved this! Great characters, great story, great setting and all the emotion I expect from Cate Ashwood at her best.
Charlie is a brilliant leading man. I loved watching him grow into himself. His dance scenes were beautiful and his emerging confidence was wonderful to witness.
Max is also amazing. Older, confident and talented, he is the perfect man to help Charlie become comfortable in his own skin..
As always, Ashwood makes us feel everything her characters feel as we fall in love with them. Beyond the central relationships, secondary characters come to life beautifully. New York comes alive through Charlie’s narration. The city emerges as a vibrant, heaving culinary heaven, a place where everyone can be freely accepted.
I love the detail Ashwood put into her dance scenes, especially at the start. I was a little sad that as Charlie’s relationships progressed, the detailed descriptions of his dancing waned. I wanted more dancing!
This is a fantastic story. Highly recommended.
My fingers tugged at the edge of the cardboard cozy wrapped around the cup as I waited for him to speak. The silence between us felt heavy, and the awkwardness settled in around me as he stared at me, his mouth quirked in a playful expression.
“What?” I asked finally.
“Nothing,” he replied, smiling. “So I guess we should get started.”
“I think maybe just one, two songs at most. The festival isn’t until the end of the summer, so we have lots of time.”
“What festival is it again?” I asked.
“OutShine,” he responded.
“What kind of festival is that?” I asked.
“It’s a big arts festival that takes place throughout the city, mostly in parks. There are exhibits and performances, and a huge celebration at the end. It was started a few years ago to raise awareness and money for gay rights.”
“Oh. Are you… I mean….”
“Gay?” Max supplied.
“Yes. Are you?”
“I… no, uh I…,” I stuttered. I was stunned by how nonchalant and completely unapologetic he’d been about his sexuality, as though admitting to me he was gay was the most ordinary thing in the whole world. A part of me wished I could do that. I could nod and say the words like it was as natural as telling him I was blond or I liked chocolate ice cream.
“It’s okay, Charlie. No big deal. You don’t have to be gay to participate. Originally, all the artists were gay, but it has grown and evolved now to include everyone, which is how it should be,” Max said, shooting me an understanding look.
I should have corrected him. I should have told him, but I’d never said the words out loud. Hell, it was hard enough for me to form that three-word sentence in my head. Even as I sat there, my brain rebelled, doing its own version of sticking its fingers in its ears and humming. So instead of being honest with him about who I was, I let him assume I was something else. Continue reading