BOOK REVIEW: Amour Amour (Aerial Ethereal #1) by Krista Ritchie & Becca RitchieAmour Amour (Aerial Ethereal)
by Krista Ritchie, Becca Ritchie
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Love is a circus

"Every day,” he says lowly, “I hold a person’s life in my hands. The circus is based one-hundred percent off trust. I give it all to someone, and they give it all to me.”

The best aerial technique won’t land 21-year-old Thora James her dream role in Amour—a sexy new acrobatic show on the Vegas strip. Thora knows she’s out of her element the second she meets Amour’s leading performer. Confident, charming and devilishly captivating, 26-year-old Nikolai Kotova lives up to his nickname as the “God of Russia.”

When Thora unknowingly walks into the crosshairs of Nikolai’s after-show, her audition process begins way too soon. Unprofessional. That’s what Nik calls their “non-existent” relationship. It’s not like Thora can avoid him. For one, they may be partners in the future—acrobatic partners, that is. But getting closer to Nik means diving deeper into sin city and into his dizzying world.

Thora wants to perform with him, but when someone like Nikolai attracts the spotlight wherever he goes—Thora fears that she’s destined to be just background to his spellbinding show.

She’s trying to find herself. Some days I still wonder if I’ve found me. Maybe we never stop searching. Maybe we evolve the way seasons change, seamlessly without really knowing, not until all the leaves have fallen.
This is who I am today.
Tomorrow I may be the same.
But in years, I’ll be someone else. Someone I may like more. Someone I may like less. And that’s okay. Because I’m still living.

It’s no secret that I loved Connor Cobalt with all my heart when I read the Calloway Sisters spin-off series in 2015. He and Rose made me happier than I could have imagined possible. And while I adored those two books that centered on the controlling and over-achieving duo, I just couldn’t fathom liking another book out of that series. They were always a bit long and always….heavy-ish, so I just couldn’t reconcile liking a book by these authors that relatively none of my friends have talked about.

I wish I could tap into his mind, even for a moment. To see how he sees me. For as much as Nikolai conveys, he’s still a mystery.
And I’m the curious girl who’ll step into it. Time and time again.

Then one day I just decided to give it a try….and I met one of the sweetest, most dedicated, most loyal men ever. I swear, why did all these books I adore have to come near the end of the year? What I needed was a book that wasn’t your typical romance, that wasn’t NA smut, something with some substance. And, ya know, normally I don’t love books that are a bit slower build, longer than they really need to be (which is a Ritchie trait, if you ask me) without much action, but it seems that some of my absolute favorites this year are just that: Punk 57, An Enchantment of Ravens, and now Amour Amour. There must be something in the water, because I am DYING of thirst when it comes to these books.

It became something more without noticing. Without realizing. “Am I a mistake—”
“No, myshka. You’re just the unexpected, beautiful thing in my life.”

Thora is selected to go try out for an Aerial company that has circus shows all around the world-her dream show? Amour. I kind of just pictured Cirque-du-Soleil (which I think was the point?) as I read, and it seemed to resonate and help me picture things I might have skimmed over before (I’ve never been that imaginative…which is why I use all the same stock actors and actresses with each book I read lol). Anyway, she gets called in for an audition, but she just isn’t up to par-not yet. And that’s where Nikolai comes in.

And he assumed right. Again. Probably based on Shay’s height, frame, build—like he did me that first night in Vegas. “Can you at least pretend to be full of remorse and regret?” This would be so much easier.
“No. A devil protects his demon.”

Nikolai lives and breathes the circus, grew up participating in shows with his family from the beginning. He’s a show stopper, and the spot for his partner just opened up…which is why Thora is in Vegas trying out for the coveted position. While doing his after-hours show on a Saturday night at a club, he challenges a cute girl to oppose him-and he instantly feels something towards her. A need to shield, to protect her perhaps. When they part ways that night, he warns her to not let the city eat her alive…and then the day of try-outs arrives, and he’s shocked to see that she wasn’t just a visitor in his town, but a tiny girl with more passion than she knows what to do with.

The slight prick of fear heightens my adrenaline, setting a fire beneath me.
Who can explain the drum of their heart or the burst of their lungs? Give me that person. I need them because words fail my senses.

So the story goes. Alas, I will say that, while I knew what the end would produce, the rest of the story was surprising the whole way through, a mystery until the end-and I respected that. I loved that I kept guessing and was never really right, and that, even though the story was a little predictable all in all, the writers kept it out of the cliché zone. Did I love that the motto of the story basically implies love comes second? Hmm no. When I read, I look to escape reality, not drench myself in it. But I did love that they weren’t pushovers for their attraction to one another. Did I love that it took so long for what I wanted to be said and for it to be admitted? Actually…yes. I did. I LOVE a slow burn, and I love how the authors didn’t just give me all the cookies in the cookie jar right away, but also didn’t keep them from being together. I won’t spoil, I’m just saying that it worked for me, and I didn’t think I’d be happy about it…but I was. I SO was, because it just gave me millions of butterflies and melted my crusty self into a puddle of goop when all the little things happened, leading up to a crescendo of feels.

He said, “All you need is luck. The rest, you’ll do great at.”
I smiled. “Is that my trainer speaking?”
“Yes,” he said, “but you’d probably think it’s a problem.”
I hesitated, “Why’s that?”
He stood up, towering above me with those intense grays. “Your trainer is in love with you.”

I’ve gotten even more dramatic in my old age, haven’t I? I’m a sap, a puddle of goo…but I just love that I can still be surprised by books when I thought I was starting to lose all my fangirl feels. Nikolai…I don’t know. He’s Russian, which was hard for me to picture? I know that makes me sound like a snob, but obviously I’m not a total snob because he won my heart over in, like, two pages. He stole my breath at the oddest of times, when I least expected it, and he would do ANYTHING for Thora.

“I’d help you every day so that you could see a better tomorrow. I will never give you less than that.”


“Why help me?” I ask softly. I expect him to say, I don’t have an answer.
“I admire your courage. I know what you’ve given up to be here. I know the kind of artist it takes to land a role. I know that you won’t receive one on your own. And I imagine you, myshka, two years from now, working at Phantom with the same aspirations, the same dreams, in the same place where you are now. It’s wasted courage. And wasted love. You shouldn’t have to waste those things.”

Which, okay, let’s talk about that name real quick-it’s like a couple name smash that went wrong-Thor and Nora for the win? Ha BUT ANYWAY, he had rules. He was strict with his ‘Circus before love’ bit. But Thora wiggled into his heart, made him feel whole…and she made him question what was more important. And, when faced with the fact that he may lose her if she didn’t make the Aerial team in January, it broke his heart-but not once did he let it show that he would die if she left, because her dreams were more important to him than his own happiness. I mean…I can’t even. He was just…I can’t. Not once had he been distracted from the true love of his (and Thora’s) life, the circus, but Thora made him break the rules, made him do things he’d never done before. And one scene breaks my heart in the best possible way, and I can’t say but….I think you guys would know if you read it. It’s EVERYTHING.

He stares down at me, waiting. I always pause. And he rarely fills the silence with his own voice. He just looks so deeply into me and gives me time to find the right thing…
“I’m in love with you,” I whisper.
He tries to smile but his eyes flood instead. “Don’t love me more than your dreams, myshka. Because I love you too much to let you give them up for me.”

So yeah, it wasn’t a perfect book-it didn’t have non-stop action, it might have dragged JUST a teensy bit, and I wanted to punch her best friend. But Nikolai’s adorable jealousness, the family bonding that only these sisters can write/produce, the friendships, the palpable love between Nikolai and Thora, the tenderness with which he treats her, takes care of her, the story line that makes you feel like you’re a part of Vegas…yeah, I’d say this is one of my absolute favorites. Hands down. And I’d say you’d be silly to not give this one a try.

I never even dreamed of finding love. It’s been low on my list of pursuits. I thought I’d tackle that later. Maybe in ten years. I’d fall in love for the first time then.

I wish someone would’ve told me that you can’t search for love. That one day, it will find you.
An unexpected thing.