Eighteen-year-old ballerina Ariel is determined to experience life outside the dance studio. She auditions for the cirque on a whim, and though ballet training didn’t prepare her for dodging knives, she refuses to flinch and wins the spot of target girl alongside Gabriel, the mysterious knife-thrower. There’s something unmistakably dangerous yet tempting about Gabriel’s crystal blue eyes and tattoos. She’s determined to solve the mystery of his past after learning he’s on the run from the law. Especially since the distraction is just what she needs to avoid admitting to her parents she was dismissed from her ballet contract.
*WLP Notes: There is NO buy information anywhere that I can find. Contact author at her website for details on where to buy or order*
The more she learns about Gabriel, the scars on his body, the foster homes he grew up in, and his fascination with knives, she knows she should run the other way, but that boy’s like crack, oh so bad for you, yet addicting as hell. When he’s arrested and forced to deal with his past, she has to choose between putting her own life back together and dealing with her parents, or taking a chance on Gabriel, as no one else has.
It is very rare to find a circus story that is not set in the 1920s (see Water for Elephants) and also has a love story component to it. So when I saw the synopsis for The Cirque on Goodreads, I contact Kerekes for a copy. She was gracious enough to give me an advanced copy. For those familiar with the self-publishing world, Ryann Kerekes is also the name of Kendall Ryan (author of Hard to Love) under which she writes adult romance novels.
The Cirque revolves around Ariel, or Ari, a ballerina just dismissed from her ballet company due to a lack of passion for her craft. She stumbles upon circus auditions where she is pegged to be the new target girl from the mysterious and brooding knife thrower, Gabriel. Ari is 18 in the book and I appreciated some of the choices she made and how she struggled to be independent of her parents. Her parents don’t know that she’s joined the circus and despite her best intentions, she ends up being attracted to Gabriel and makes some poor decisions in the process. However, what Kerekes captures is the bravado and yet uncertainty that many 18 year old girls face. Gabriel is the quintessential bad boy, brooding artist that your mother told you to stay away from, but he’s not too melodramatic as to be annoying or off putting.
I was personally more interested in the development of Ari as a character than I was in the relationship between her and Gabriel. I think her decision to pursue Gabriel is the catalyst for a lot of life changes. I also really enjoyed the behind the big top look at Kerekes’ depiction of circus life. There are a number of great side characters here including Ari’s roomate Sasha and make-up artist, Tanner. As for the romance in the story, it all wraps up nicely, but has more of a happy-for-now rather than a happily-ever-after element. I would not be surprised if Kerekes chose to revisit the characters in a sequel.