Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To The Breaking Pointe, Second in First Force Series, Takes Readers to Russian Ballet's Darker Side...

Yekaterinburg, Russia...     Easing her sore, aching, and abraded feet into a tub of hot water, Silja (Sil-ya) Ramsay [played by Kristina Shapran] let out a gratifying groan. She laid her head against the sofa, allowing the Epsom salts to soothe the pain from the bloody welts on her toes. The toenail on her left big toe was discolored and cracked. Yuck!
For the past five weeks, she'd danced the principle role of Swan Hilda in the ballet, Coppelia. The ballet told the enchanting story of an old inventor named Dr. Coppelius who has created a lovely, life-size doll named Coppelia. He displays his exquisite invention on the balcony of his shop, intriguing all the townspeople. They try and try to get Coppelia's attention to no avail...

Although the muscles in her body begged for mercy and her feet felt as though they would fall off, she wasn't complaining. She was living her dream of being the principal ballerina for a small yet prominent ballet company. She'd left everything behind even the man she loved, to follow her dream. Oftentimes she had regrets, but not tonight. Oh no, tonight her performance had been flawless, bringing the audience to their feet for three curtain calls!

Anna Pavlova and
Novikoff in 1911
Closing her eyes, Silja's lips curled up in bittersweet contemplation. She missed her home in the United States, and she missed Grant. It was so long ago, why did he even seep into her mind anymore? It had been five years since she had seen him and only a few emails were exchanged each year. He had his life, and she had hers, period. End of story. Leave it be. Gawd, Silja, he's probably with someone else. Silja had come to Russia five years previously to dance with the Novikov Ballet Company. 

Even though she was born in Russia, she'd been raised in the United States after being adopted by an American couple, the Ramsays, twenty-five years ago. Her adoptive parents were wonderful. She was provided with a loving home. When Silja fell in love with ballet, her adoptive mother saw to it that she had the very best instruction. Her eyes welled with tears. She so wished that her parents could have seen her tonight. Then again, she had longed for that on so many nights. She missed them desperately. A car accident had claimed them several years ago. When the opportunity presented itself to audition for the Novikov, Silja knew that this is what her mother would have wanted.

Grant encouraged her to follow her dreams. He was a gentleman. He loved her, but, mostly, Grant was a selfless man. She could still remember his words to her when he had left her at the airport. He brushed a stray hair from her cheek, kissed her lips, and whispered, "I'm so proud of you, Sil. I know you'll be great." His eyes were shadowed with sadness, but his words were genuine. He turned and hurried away.

To The Breaking Pointe:
First Force Series
By Cindy McDonald

I was so happy to see that McDonald had used her background expertise of being a professional dancer/choreographer, in her new career of writing fiction! It is a beautiful merge of those years of performance with her latest activities as a writer. Using that merge has taken us to Moscow into the world of dance...but to the seamier side of it! Actually, this also results in a successful merge of romantic suspense with the thriller genre that she's now doing! I loved this one! 

At least they were both young at the time that Silja and Grant, played by Stuart Tomlinson, had separated so that Silja could accept the position of a lifetime for her career--joining a small but prominent ballet company in Russia. The only thing was that neither of them had ever stopped loving the other... And that left both missing what had been a very important part of their lives. After 5 years, those feelings had never disappeared...

Back in Malibu, California, First Force was in the midst of an involuntary rescue of the daughter of their Columbia client, who was now living with the director and starring in porn films. (By the way, please check out my previous review on the debut novel to learn more about this group.) 

Jack Haliday who was the main character in the last book has joined First Force and has also moved into the central safe house since his home had been burned. Grant Ketchum and Dan Garrison were also on the mission and since Ms. Salazar was fighting the group all of the way during their escape, they were quite relieved to have this job finished!

While Anita had been at the safe house with Dr. Rayne checking her out physically, they had an interesting little exchange about how Jack seemed to be interested in Rayne...Ahhh! I'm enjoying this interplay...LOL

High up on her tippy toes with her arms over her head, she bourreed across the kitchen to where her father had taken his seat. "Look, Daddy! Look at my ballerina outfit! I'm gonna start ballerina lessons this week!" the child joyfully announced.
"Whoa, that was a quick change," Jack pointed out with a chuckle. The room was filled with ooohs and awes. The curls on her head whipped about as she twirled while watching the sequins on the tutu catch the light. Her innocent joy was simply infectious.
Wearing an ear-to-ear grin across his bristly face, Jack clapped his hands. "That's fantastic, baby! You look beautiful!
Whirling around, Lil bumped into Grant's chair. He grabbed her arm before she tumbled to the floor. The little girl gazed up at him with wide eyes. She asked, "I'll have to practice more before I can be a real ballerina, isn't that right, Mr. Grant?"
He smiled and swallowed hard. "I think you'll make one of the prettiest ballerinas I've every seen..."
Grant couldn't help but think how all little girls dream of becoming a ballerina. At one time he was so very much in love with one such girl who made that very dream into a reality. Silja Ramsey--Sil...

Was it having seen Lil in her tutu that made Grant on edge, thinking to contact Sil, wondering how she was, dreaming of her each night? He couldn't get a bad feeling out of his head and couldn't let go of the worry he was feeling... Or was it that he could feel Sil's thoughts about him, especially when it became even more and more dangerous for her? 

Walt had already expressed concern that he seemed to lack the attention needed for doing the job and they were in the midst of, actually, heading for another job somewhere in Russia, but Grant finally admitted to himself and to Walt that he had to go find Silja...

With her parents killed in the accident, Sil was totally alone, except for the people with whom she worked. She had become principal dancer quite some time ago. Even though she considered herself Russian, once she had moved to America, all of the company really considered her American...and they kept her out of what was happening, until...

Due to the lack of funds to keep the ballet company going, the owner and manager had slowly evolved into a series of parties during which rich patrons would "contribute" by buying an evening with one of the dancers. Then those individuals began to demand more during their evenings... Some of the females, especially one who had just joined the company, was hurt badly, including raped...

Silja was kept out of those parties, but one of the most richest of the patrons had become obsessed with Silja. He had tried to present her with presents, flowers, all of which had been returned. The manager had tried to talk Silja into at least being sociable to him, hoping that a spark would develop, which it ultimately did... 

But it was about that same time that she learned from her best friend and fellow dancer what actually happened at those parties. Silja was incensed and felt she had to do something. They later placed one of her slippers into the box which was used for the patron drawing... Silja hid until her slipper was drawn--by the very man who had physically abused the young girl, and others! Silja spoke out and threatened to tell the police...

Instead she was overpowered by the man, which drew the attention of her stalker and Silja found herself being dragged out of the room! She was being kidnapped! And the man who had bought her for the night had been killed!

Silja was wanted for murder! Her only hope was that her one-word message to Grant had gone through when she'd still had access to her cell phone...

Silja: HELP!
Grant parked the SUV along the street about a block away from the studio. While he trekked among the Russian citizens huddled in their coats against the ice-edge breeze, Grant realized that they peered at his skeptically from behind the scarves wrapped around their faces. Some made a wide breadth to avoid him completely...
The Americans and Russians have always been wary of one another--it had been ingrained in both peoples' minds from the time they were children. Yeah, it was obvious that the cold war was still being silently fought.
Finally, he came upon the building that housed the Novikov Ballet Company. A slight built woman was peering in the windows. She wore a long wool coat, boots, a knit hat pulled down over her ears...
"You are American soldier, yes?"
Grant smiled politely. "Something like that. Is there anyone here?"
"No. The dancers are on two-week rest. Who do you search for?"
"I'm looking for Silja Ramsay. Do you know her?"
"Perhaps. Who are you?"
"I'm an old friend."
Eleni smiled. "Yes, I recognize you now. I have seen picture of you in Silja's apartment. You are Grant...I am frightened for her..."

Walt had immediately showed the type of man he was by telling Grant to go and treat it as a mission, which meant that he would have both financial and staff support. The team itself would join him after they finished their first job. But Grant had met Eleni Babinski, Silja's best friend when he had gone looking for her and she recognized him and immediately agreed to help, explaining about what had been happening with the patrons and dancers and that she had planned to go to the police, but had been taken instead...

You know, you would think that the man who had physically abused the young girl would have been the villain but he was nothing compared to the man who had chosen that Silja would become his possession--yes, he was all charm while he had courted her, but, now...

Whew, I was sure glad that Silja had somebody who loved her completely and was also prepared, through his training in First Force and earlier, to find her and take her home. But, believe me, with what had already happened and started to increase, readers will be hanging in suspense from the moment Grant hits the ground in Russia!

Would the two
ever get the
chance to
and share their
love of dance?!!! 

Music, Mystery, and Separated Lovers brings readers a really fascinating treat! I can't decide which of the books I enjoyed the most--fortunately, I don't have to choose! And I'm already looking forward to In the Dark coming in 2015! The author included an excerpt in the back for enticing readers... all I saw was Dr. Rayne Lee's name and I stopped! I knew I wanted to know her personal story! Don't you?!!! 

Love this series...Check it out and know that I'm recommending both books written thus far and the next as well. This is an author to watch!


Cindy McDonald was born and raised in the Pittsburgh, Pa area. For 26 years she was a professional choreographer. She taught ballet, jazz, and tap. During that time she choregraphed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. Most recently, she has retired to write her novels. She resides with her husband on their Thoroughbred farm know as Fly By Night Stables near Pittsburgh. To learn more about her book series and to read excerpts from her upcoming books, please visit her website:

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