Dance to the Piper

- Nora Roberts

Goodreads Book Blurb:

‘If you stop dreaming, you stop living’. Though her name is up in lights, Maddy O’Hurley cares nothing for the trappings of stardom. All that matters to her are dancing and how alive she feels when she steps into the Broadway stage. Reed Valentine’s only passions are wealth and power…The attraction sparking between them like fireworks over Central Park surprise Reed; Maddy’s a dreamer and he stopped dreaming a long time ago. But the O’Hurley in Maddy isn’t going to give up this mesmerising man without a fight.

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My Review:

not my cup of tea:

You just can’t beat the ‘80s. Paperback romances, rich recording companies, and glamorous eating disorders.

This book should be sold with a trigger warning. Honestly, Nora Roberts can usually do no wrong, and I’m trying to keep the context of the time period in mind, but at every possible moment, Maddy’s eating disorder was described as adorable and admirable. Oh, look at the athlete, the star in the Broadway musical, who spends her mornings in extra dancing classes and her days off going on 5 mile runs as a break, even though she’s in back-breaking rehearsals all day. Don’t worry, she’s proud of how one moment she’s eating half a salad and then binging on ice cream sundaes for breakfast. In one paragraph, she’s literally describing how well she knows her body and mentions her ‘too thin torso’. When she starts dating this rich, perfect executive, they go on dates and it’s shown as a sign of how interested he is in her that he knows she won’t eat a full meal, she just wants small bites of his. On their first date, she cooks him a steak and then eats a salad while watching him eat, with many comments on how much she envies his meal and how strong she is for denying herself the food she needs to survive after burning thousands of calories in rehearsal. I could not make this shit up.

I wanted to give this book a chance – they actually took months to fall in love, not days like in the first book of the series, and took the time to become ‘friends’ first and get to know each other. But the easy acceptance of the infantilization of women as a sign of love, the disgusting ‘he can treat you like crap but if you just stick around and don’t stand up for yourself one day he’ll love you back’ trope, and the elevation of anorexia and bingeing as an admirable diet choice for anyone, let alone an athlete, just pushed it over the edge for me. I think I’m going to let this series end with this one and stick to Nora’s more recent works from now on.

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