Showtime - Chloe Kayne Overall, 3.5 Stars

What I did like about this book:

0. It came to me free from Goodreads Giveaways!

1. The characters all had interesting and diverse back stories. Laila, herself, was the progeny of a prostitute, though her parents did fall in love. Her father attempted to commit suicide when she was 8 years old, and failed, leaving himself mentally crippled in an asylum. Her mother raised her in a brothel, where she continued to work as a prostitute to pay her husband's way in the asylum.

2. The romantic interest, Dex. He may have been a bit overly violent towards others who he saw as a real threat, but he had self control, and he never ever did anything to make me think he was a danger to Laila. In fact, her friend's insistence that he was a danger to her, started bordering on the annoying. He clearly cared for her, and wanted only for her to be safe in a world that she was too innocent to navigate well.

3. The various "twists," and moments that made me say Oh! The appearance of Seth (though why had none of her friends mentioned that detail?!), for one. There were more minor moments of the same sort, where I was left with an eyebrow raised because I had simply not seen it coming.

What I didn't like about this book:

1. The incredibly fascinating and diverse background stories often didn't seem to realistically have affected the characters at all. Laila may only be 15 or 16, but she lived in a brothel, for Gods' sake. She should be able to at least sort of defend herself. I do like that she was able to hang onto some of her innocence, but at the same rate, watching your father shoot himself, and then being raised in a brothel, in 1919 or so? Her innocence should have been broken a lot more than it was. There was a big disconnect between the character that Laila's back story would have made her be and the character that Laila actually was.

2. The romantic interest, Dex. Laila's been warned off, again and again by her friends who have known him for way longer than she has. He's a fucking flake, and he ends up being given way too many chances. I had a love/hate relationship with him during the entire book. He did border on the violent asshole romantic character that's become popular because of Twilight, that I hate so much. However, I do believe that line was walked well.

3. That last "twist" about why everyone at the circus is afraid of Dex and Seth. I understand the parallel, that Laila lied about her past, and that Dex did as well. However, someone tells me something like that, that does prove his violence and ability to really, really, really, hurt people, I have some follow-up questions. Laila lied, but then there was an explanation. Dex may have a good-ish (there's really no good explanation) explanation for what happened, but Laila doesn't even ask. She even says that she still trusts him and it seems as though she simply doesn't care. She should. Honestly, the book lost a whole star here, it just really, really rubbed me the wrong way.

I am very much so looking forward to the second book, maybe it'll explain the Dex and Seth situation that bothers me so greatly. I am also looking forward to seeing what Chloe Kayne can do as her writing style matures a bit. This was obviously a first novel, the phrasing was a bit on the awkward side, and it felt unpolished (though I do have an ARC copy); the big all-out fights/brawls were made hard to follow.