My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won this in a giveaway a while back but I am slower than slow to get to ebooks. I don't usually read contemporary fiction but I guess that this is actually historical (I guess I should say I don't usually read things that aren't mysteries, UF/SF/Fantasy). So I wasn't sure what to expect. But as my doctor took forever to get to me today I read the whole thing in two hours. Been awhile since I've gotten that sucked into a story.
I really loved Chance. I'm a sucker for a kid with a tragic past (what that says about me, I'm not sure I want to know). So I was drawn right into Chance's story (and Johnnie's later on in the story). Chance's hard start to life gets better when he's taken in by theater performers and he grows up within the Cleopatra Theater, until the day he loses everything.
The scars of that run deep and he pisses away a lot of chances, including those of stardom thanks to his good looks and pleasant voice. Drinking, drugging he finally tries to lose himself in the foreign legion. What he finds there is Commandant Jacky Valentine, who is not just a good commander but also one to hold out a hand to the scarred and battered by life young men that he meets.
Jacky wants more than just to help Chance. He has fallen for him but Chance isn't ready for that emotional connection. He continues to lash out, do stupid things etc even though he is sleeping with Jacky. Even gets himself shot a couple of times putting a strain on his relationship with Jacky and the other young men, like Johnnie who Chance recognizes is a lot like him, angry at life.
Just as he commits himself to changing, Chance might just lose everything again.
I really like Chance's voice (and since this is first person, that's the only voice you get). His snarky view of Jacky's good heart is amusing even though you occasionally want to kick him in the pants. The ending is sweet. About the only thing that didn't quite work for me was right after Chance got shot the first time but that's minor. I truly enjoyed this.