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Reviewed by Bethany Kelly

Do you believe in love at first sight? This is a question that is asked time and time again. Each person that you encounter and ask this to will either say yes or no, but will likely give you a different reason for whatever answer they gave. It will depend on the circumstances they are in at that point in their life, as well as the past experiences they have had. In The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love, the two main characters, Olivia and Antonio, would likely tell you that they do believe in love at first sight, as they experienced this with one another.

When Antonio and Olivia first met at the Paradise Ballroom, the encounter was brief but also substantial. Antonio was a singer and Olivia a dance hostess. Both were working in a difficult field of work and both were struggling to make ends meet doing something that they were passionate about. However, after their shifts were over, they went their separate ways, both expecting to never see each other again.

A few months go by and both of their paths change as World War II begins. Olivia is now married to Bernard, a wealthy Englishman who is also determined to help Antonio’s singing career. When Olivia realizes who her husband has taken under his wing, she is terrified that he will reveal the secret that he learned on the night of their first meeting. What she doesn’t know is that he is in love with her and would never betray her trust. When Olivia’s marriage changes into something that she doesn’t recognize, she can no longer hide her attraction to Antonio from him. However, with the war heating up, they may not be able to be together. In fact, they may end up separated forever.

Although I loved some of this novel, I wasn’t pleased with the majority of it. The first several chapters were a little dull, filled with a lot of backstory. However, I understand why they were in the novel. The middle of the book was what I loved the most. It was rich with beautiful (and somewhat lyrical) writing, and was also quite interesting. However, the ending of the book seemed quite anti-climactic to me. Although I wasn’t expecting it to end the way that it did, I also expected the last few chapters to be more profound. One thing I will say, though, is that I liked the very last chapter immensely.

All in all, I don’t regret reading this book, as it did have some fantastic attributes, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have the patience to get through the somewhat dull backstory contained in the initial chapters.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Broadway Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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