Anyone who knows me or follows my reading habits will know that I don’t really do love stories, but I decided to give Under Winter Lights a chance as the story revolves around a ballet school; and ballet is something that has always fascinated me.
This review has some spoilers at the end!
Martina is a quiet girl from a small town with a big heart and a huge talent, and there is no reader that could resist falling for her… but I must admit, I fell for Maraav so much too – he’s everything I’d want in a man; talented, respectful, hardworking, dedicated, selfless, reliable and must have the most gorgeous arms. Martina and Maraav are an unlikely couple on the face of it but their feelings are so believable because Bree has managed to write them, especially Martina’s, in such a real way that it bought me to tears. I even had to take a few days reading break because Bree’s writing made me drown in my own feelings.
Bree has also managed to include many layers to the two main characters that you start to realise the two are very much made for each other – these aren’t just two characters that are just dancers, they are also two individuals that have lived lives previous to when this story is set and who have been shaped by those lives. Bree seems to have put a lot of thought into the two main character’s backgrounds and how these backgrounds might affect who they are and how they react to certain situations… and I love it.
I really want to focus on Bree’s writing because I think she deserves recognition for how wonderfully she’s written this story. Despite Bree using ballet terms that not all people understand, including myself, there were never times when I was annoyed or confused by the terminology – there wasn’t too much of it that I was overwhelmed with descriptions of seemingly impossible dance moves, but also enough that I always knew that this book isn’t just about lust and romance, but also the beauty of ballet too. It is hugely obvious that Bree knows what she’s talking about when she describes the dancing and how it affects the body, and this increased my enjoyment massively (there’s nothing worse than a writer thinking they know what they’re talking about when they really don’t)… I’ve always admired the hard work and dedication put into ballet and it’s always seemed incredibly romantic and erotic to me, and this book has just boosted these opinions for me. My only issue is one more of editing than the actual writing, and it’s that I think sometimes chapters were too long and should have been split when certain scenes or interactions ended.
As I am not usually a romance book lover I think it’s super important that I mention that none of the ‘romantic’ scenes in the book were overwhelmingly cheesy or lame and so I was able to enjoy those parts of the book as well (actually a lot more than I anticipated I would). This book took me a few more days than it should have done to finish and this is down to the fact that Bree’s writing was just too real for me to cope with after a recent break-up, leading me to take a few days off of reading. Everything that was written about Martina’s emotions hit me in my heart so hard because I really related to her, and this made it obvious to me how much work Bree has put into making her book as honest as possible. Bree was also able to create incredibly sexy, erotic scenes without the main characters even kissing and that takes so much skill.
One more thing I must mention is that I think Bree has included a couple of issues that I think are probably fairly common within the ballet world; how tired Martina becomes, how she manages to end up neglecting her health a little and how taxing the dancing really is on her body… but also the issues surrounding Martina’s relationship with Mr. Jung – the scenes that were meant to make my skin crawl did, but there were also times I wanted to scream and cry for Martina. I really want to know where this part of the story ends up going, because I’m scared for Martina but also rooting on Maraav to deal with the situation.
I hate that I have to wait to find out what’s going to happen, I am beyond excited for when Martina and Maraav finally do the dirty and I really hope Bree writes this scene as well as I think she can. I also want to know what decisions Martina is going to make about being at The Bellus after The Nutcracker is over because of how Mr. Jung has been treating her and what career move Maraav is going to make once the show is over. I’m such an impatient person, I want part two now!!!