Publisher: Bywater Books
Dance in the Key of Love is the sequel to an earlier novel by Marianne K. Martin called Dawn of the Dance. You don't have to have read the first novel to enjoy this one, but, if it is available, it might be helpful to review it, especially in understanding what is going on in the beginning of the new book.
Paige Flemming is a woman on the run, from the law and from her past. She has been running for sixteen years to stay out of prison for a crime that she didn't commit, but for which she is willing to take the blame. Sometimes though she needs to stop in a safe place and rest and that means visiting with her friends Moni and Katherine. While she is with them, she feels she'll be safe from the hunters, but she's underestimated the determination of Detective Jack Beamon. He doesn't like unsolved cases and this one has a personal aspect to it. He'll do anything to find her, including establishing a relationship with her mother, Geri, not expecting that it will have surprising consequences for himself.
Marissa Langford was a beautiful and talented professional dancer with a flourishing career until a drunk driver left her broken in many ways. Though she has recovered more than doctors had hoped for, it means nothing because she cannot dance. She is struggling to rebuild her life and determined to prove that she can still choreograph the musical at the local college. She will need help though and the last person she wants that help from is Paige. They have a history that stands between them. Eventually, Marissa faces the fact that she cannot do the job without Paige and that she will have to put aside her feelings. Working together, they will find a relationship that has the potential to solve the emotional and physical injuries both of them have suffered. Even as they help either other though, Jack Beamon is getting closer to his goal of making Paige pay for what he thinks she did.
Marianne K. Martin is an experienced and accomplished writer. That shows through clearly in Dance in the Key of Love in the way she weaves what are actually three stories together - Paige and Marissa, Jack and Geri, and Jack's relationship with his daughter who is in an abusive relationship. The stories intertwine in such a way as to complement and shed light on each other. For example, Jack comes to learn through his daughter's relationship what Geri's early life was like and what might have motivated Paige to do the crime she is accused of committing.
Martin's words flow smoothly across the page creating very clear images of her characters and their feelings. She also doesn't talk down to her readers and isn't concerned about using complex sentences and images to tell her story. The one point that might have been stronger in this book was having more explanation or flashback sequences about what happened in the original book. That would have been extremely helpful to the reader who hasn't read it or read it when it originally came out years ago. Not knowing that story makes it a little difficult to get a grasp about what is happening in the first chapter of the book, but the story in Dance in the Key of Love establishes itself quickly after that. Overall, Martin has written a strong and moving story. Well worth reading.