“What’s he doing back in London after all this time?”
Eight years ago, Lisa Darby’s dancing partner and first love, Redmond Carrington, left London for a fun summer on the cruise ships – and never came back. Lisa’s grown up a bit since then, and she’d like to think she’s prepared for anything, but when Red comes back from America with a proposal for her, she’s not sure she’s ready for what he’s suggesting.
A TV studio is filming a knockout competition of six of the world’s best couples – each of them partners both on and off the dance floor. Redmond wants Lisa to pose as his girlfriend so that they can compete. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for an aspiring professional dancer, and the spectacular prize money would help save Lisa’s beloved dance studio, which is in need of major renovation. Scooping the prize is going to take the performance of a lifetime from Lisa and Redmond, but with the sizzling tension between them, they might just pull it off.
It turns out that putting on an act for the cameras is the least of Lisa’s worries. As time goes on and she rediscovers her feelings for Redmond, she’s left questioning what’s really behind his offer, and where their partnership is heading this time.
It’s been eight years since Redmond walked out of Lisa’s life to work on a cruise ship for the summer. Eight years since he left and never looked back. Until now.
Redmond has spent the past eight years in America dancing. Lisa has tried to forget about him but being her dance partner and the guy who stole her heart at eighteen, it comes to a shock that he’s now back in London for a few weeks. He wants them both to compete in TV dancing show called Couples to win money to keep open and refurbish their old dancing school. Only thing is that they need to be an actual couple and so Lisa agrees to pretend, for the sake of saving the dance school.
It turns out that even after all those years apart, the chemistry is still as obvious as it was when they were teenagers and it was like they were never apart. Faking it in front of the cameras isn’t the hard part. The hard part is all the feelings resurfacing for Redmond which leaves her questioning his actions between the two of them and what he really wants out of this competition and them after so long.
Stephanie Cage emailed me last night asking if I would like to review Perfect Partners. Reading the synopsis and staring at the book cover instantly grabbed my attention and because I love dancing shows, I just had to email back and accept her offer of receiving a review copy. I was drawn in from the start. Instantly intrigued from the first page, as the opening line is “What’s he doing back in London after all this time?” Yes, I wanted to know why he was back too, so I knew I had to click through the pages, to find out the reason Redmond was back after so many years away.
Stephanie’s writing flowed with ease, from page to page. It was like I was hypnotized and I would not stop turning the pages, wanting to try and figure out myself why Redmond was back, if Lisa’s paranoia was something that was true, if they would win the contest. Perfect Partners really does hold your attention and before you know it, you would have finished without a second thought of the time passing you by.
The imagery Stephanie portrayed with all the descriptions of the dances had my mind playing out the sequences that Lisa and Red were doing, imagining all the costumes and make-up that Lisa had to wear too. It truly was a great way to imagine all the glitz and glamour of the dancing world and the chemistry that poured off Lisa and Red in my head during both the dances and outside the TV show.
Perfect Partners start with Lisa asking Elaine – the owner of the dance school – why Redmond was back in London and why he wanted her to dance with him in the TV competition. She agrees, after some deliberation and finds out that Redmond is downstairs, waiting for her. Pushing away her nerves, she goes to meet him and even after eight years, it was like all those years just merged into one.
I loved the fact Redmond and Lisa could just easily get back into how they were years ago. Remembering the old dance routines, keeping up with one another and pushing their boundaries with more daring moves. It was great that they could just flow back to the old times. Saying that, I did feel sorry for Lisa at the beginning. Although she and Red were nothing more than dance partners in their teenage years, she was burnt by him when he left and after a couple of postcards he just stopped all contact. For him to come back after all those years and not say anything about his going when they first saw each other again, made me so angry at him. But then I felt angry at Lisa too. She could have scowled him the moment she saw him about why he never came back, why he never stayed in touch. I would be fuming at him thinking he could just come back and make me enter a competition with him without so much as a ‘sorry’.
But throughout the book, you DO find out why Red didn’t return and why he didn’t keep in touch. It tore my heart that they both processed strong feelings for one another but Red was scared about them. But now he was back, he wanted to make it up to Lisa; to prove he won’t leave again.
You go through a journey of dance and emotions with both Red and Lisa. You see how much they fit together, how easy it was to fall back into being dance partners and friends once again. Especially with old feelings resurfacing for Red, from Lisa. It really was a love/hate with Red. At times I felt his feelings for Lisa were pure. That he really did want to be with her and he really did mean what he said but then when Lisa began doubting it, I did too. She planted these doubts in my head too with what she was over thinking.
I think that came from her independence though. She had spent so long being independent and for Red to come back and tell his feelings for her, it’s enough to turn your world a bit topsy turvy as you now have someone who wants to do things for you. I did admire her for not wanting anyone to do anything for her, because it proved she was a strong woman but Red let her be independent but would do anything for her, if she asked him too.
At the end, it all comes to light about why Redmond was back and why he wanted to do the TV show. I have to say, the amount of phone calls he got throughout the book and the trip back to America made me a bit suspicious about him. I really thought he had a kid back in America but thank god I was mistaken. I loved what he did and the reason for it.
He really did redeem himself though, and although he should have told her at the beginning what the calls were about, I could see why he didn’t too. But then everyone seemed to know apart from Lisa but I could see why he wouldn’t tell her because he’d been away and not spoken to her for so long that he just needed to know if she still felt the same way as he did.
I do love Red though. He did take me a while to warm up to, but after, I just wanted to be his dance partner. He’s all muscular and has such a passion for dancing. You can see the passion burning from within him, but other than dancing, his other passion is Lisa. There are hints throughout the book that the feeling is mutual, even though they haven’t said anything to each other, but Lisa is oblivious to it, until Redmond tells her his feelings. He’s not a man that speaks a lot, but reading his speeches, I was hooked on him. He was there for Lisa throughout everything that happened in the weeks they spent together and they were such the perfect couple, regardless of Lisa’s doubts that she planted in her mind. He didn’t do anything to make her distrust his feelings. Not really.
The scene I loved was the last one actually. I know what sounds really bad, but trust me, the book is amazing! But I just loved when Lisa’s was really upset and Red seemed panicked over it, wondering why she ran off and what was wrong. He told her everything and completely put her mind at ease that nothing about this was a publicity thing; that he kept everything a secret from her because he wanted to make sure she would talk to him. It was a great scene and you really felt and were shown the powerful feelings Red had for Lisa and that he would do anything for her, even if she thought dance was number one and she was number two, which at that present moment in time wasn’t true, as they had both missed the results of the winners, deeming her more important, especially after his confession.
Perfect Partners definitely has a Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing with the Stars feel to it. I’ve been a fan of SCD for years and I knew I had to read it. It took me back to imagining the couples dancing together, the chemistry, the dance routines and dances and rooting for my favourite couple to win. Which of course, was Redmond and Lisa! You totally have to root for them!
Stephanie Cage has written a great book in Perfect Partners and if you are looking for a read which includes dancing, old and new feelings, a hunky man in the name of Redmond, perfect imagery and a journey throughout the show and their personal life, then definitely download this book tomorrow (Monday 25th Feb). You won’t be disappointed at all!