The Failed Audition (Circus Is Family #1)

By Krista Ritchie

8,948 ratings - 4.23* vote

An older title & cover for this ASIN can be found here.Love is a circusThora James has one dream. Become an aerialist in Amour, the sexy new acrobatic show on the Vegas strip. Her dreams do not include:1. Meeting Nikolai Kotova the night before her audition
2. Losing a bet to that confident, charming, and devilishly captivating six-foot-five “God of Russia”
3. Letting that An older title & cover for this ASIN can be found here.Love is a circusThora James has one dream. Become

... more

Book details

Kindle Edition, 399 pages
December 12th 2014 by K.B. Ritchie
Original Title
Amour Amour
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Lady Vigilante (Feifei)

4 stars!


This book was a unique, uplifting, and inspirational NA romance! It’s the kind of story that starts off decently but by the end your heart feels so full of love for ALL the characters in the book. I’ll be honest and say that I had trouble in the beginning because the heroine was too weak and the romance wasn’t the main focus, but I’m glad I continued with it. If I didn’t, I would’ve missed out on the heroine’s extraordinary character growth. I would’ve missed out on one of the very best literary heroes. And most importantly, I would’ve missed out on a few (but profound) heart-in-throat moments that captured the beauty of family bonds, deep friendship, and unconditional love. And in the end, isn’t that what NA is all about? About self-discovery, finding your passions, and pursuing those dreams, growing and maturing through all those experiences. In this aspect, KB Ritchie did a splendid job of portraying that dynamic, and it is this factor along with the 5+ star hero that convinced me that despite some hiccups along the way, this book deserves at least 4 stars.


The heroine Thora James is finally going after her life-long dream: heading out to Vegas to audition and be a part of a prestigious circus. A risky gamble, and despite her friends and family’s warnings, she persists in doing what her heart feels is right.

The hero Nikolai Kotova is one of the circus’s top performers and oozes charm and grace. He becomes Thora’s acrobatic trainer and though there’s no questioning there’s an attraction there, his focus is entirely on helping Thora become the best she can in time for her audition.

There’s been a lot of speculation, but I’d like to wipe the slate clean but saying there is absolutely no cheating. It’s easy to take a scene out of the book and blow it out of proportion, but because it’s out of context, you don’t get the full story…so my advice for those worrying about potential cheating, drama, and what-nots is to just go into the book without reservation because the story has so much to offer and it’s really not worth it to be hung up on miniscule issues that – in my opinion – don’t even exist.

As for the romance part, it starts off a little weak but gradually becomes stronger as the story progresses. Because of how dedicated Nikolai and Thora were, they willingly shelved their true feelings and always put their goals in the circus first, love second. But at the same time, it was obvious that their connection was undeniably soul-deep and though there’s some drama, Thora and Nikolai stay strong.


Another big plus this book has is the wonderful cast of side characters, and I mean each and every one of them were vital to this story. From Nikolai’s siblings to Thora’s parents and new friends made in Vegas, they provided comical relief and heightened the emotional impact in pivotal moments. They gave the book a family gathering feeling and it truly warmed my heart to see how close everyone was.

The only thing that I’d advise to be prepared for is the circus talk/acrobatic jargon. While unique and intriguing, the circus premise quickly wore me down and truthfully, I got a little bored with the ins and outs of the business. Nevertheless, it’s a big part of the book and what grounds both of the main characters so it didn’t get to the point where it was completely bothersome.

Though the book started off a little shaky, it ended with a bang. The overall message the story sends out is inspiring, the romance that finally blossomed was heartfelt and all the characters were 100% loveable.


Amour Amour is a NA romance standalone that’s unrelated to the author’s other books. But if you’re a fan of the Addicted series, you’ll get a nice surprise in this one ;)

Becca Ritchie

We're big fans of Vegas, acrobatic circus, and Center Stage -- so naturally, this is the culmination of all our loves :) Amour Amour features a 26-yr-old alpha male (a Russian athlete) and a young, courageous heroine who leaves college to follow her dreams in Vegas.

In the realm of our work, it falls more in line with "Kiss the Sky" & "Hothouse Flower" than "Addicted to You." We truly hope you enjoy this book as much as we loved writing it!






Amy | Foxy Blogs

Re-read: January 2017
I originally read this book in December in 2014 and I loved. I re-read it via audio to get myself back in the aerial world because INFINI is being released in a week.

I love this world because it's where dreams come true. Thora & Nik for the win!!

Now, I'm ready for Luka's book.
"Luka Kotova is introduced in Amour Amour, and Infini takes place in the same acrobatic world. However, it's not necessary to read Amour Amour prior to Infini."

Giveaway & Character Acrostic ->


The circus is here but it’s not the circus from your childhood with elephants and cotton candy but instead, this one is for adults. Aerial Ethereal has acrobats who defy gravity and make the audience believe in the unbelievable.

Thora is a college gymnast who has bigger dreams than being a gymnast. Her dreams involve the circus arts. When a spot opens up on Amour she boards a plane to Vegas to take a chance at her dreams. The odds are against her but Thora has a determined attitude and when she is knocked down she gets back up and keeps trying.

”My life is just beginning.”

In Vegas there is a Russian family that rules in the circus arts. The name Kotovas is synonymous with Aerial Ethereal. They’re known as demi-gods. No one tells them “no” but instead they turn a blind eye to the underage Kotovas’ who drink and gamble. One Kotovas in particular, Nikolai, literally and figuratively stands above the rest. When the crowd comes to watch him at the Red Death they chant, “God of Russia” at him.

Nikolai needs a new partner for the aerial silks in Amour. Thora has come to Vegas to apply for that position. “Amour is about six different types of love: obsessive, destructive, friendship, gentle, teasing, and passionate.” The chemistry between these two were great. Nik's “harsh” personality and Thora's RBF (resting bitch face) complimented each other. If you don’t know what that syndrome is take a look at this video->

Thora may have claimed to be her own cheerleader but Nik was her biggest supporter. The song "I’ll Be" by Edwin McCain played through my head as I read about their relationship: ”I’ll be the greatest fan of your life…”


The circus is a way of life:
•“People attend the circus to see the impossible become possible, and it’s up to us to create that illusion.”

•“You have to leave your heart and soul here. Every night. Every time. It’s your job to make the audience feel something.”

I loved seeing glimpses of some of the characters from the Addicted series make cameos in Amour Amour. It gave me a moment to fangirl while reading this book.

Reading this book brought nostalgic feelings because I spent ten years in the gym. My son had three gymnastic coaches; two from Bulgaria and one from here. Each one had an interesting story about their life as a performer. One was a performer in Cirque du Soleil, another one was a teeter board performer in the Ringling Bros and the last one was the Olympic coach for the Bulgarian men's team. Each time I read about Nik's no-nonsense attitude I could totally picture it because that was the personalities of the Bulgarian coaches. In the beginning of the book it opens with a one handed handstand contest. That scene played out in my living room as my kids challenged each other to see who could last the longest. After awhile my living room turned into a mini Cirque du Soleil.

Amour Amour is a standalone. I've been asked if the twins plan to write spinoffs with the secondary characters... I personally don't know but I would like to get to know some of the stories behind these characters. I'm currently NOT a fan of Shay because of his lack of support for Thora and her dream. So, I could do without his story but I know if anyone could change my mind about a character it would be the twins. If you haven't read anything by the twins here's your chance to try their writing style.



descriptive text here



Well, isn’t that just marvelous?

I wasn’t expecting enjoying the book as much as I did. The premise was okay, and I have faith in the twins but still I had a lot of doubts and very little expectations, but color me surprised when the book was over and all I had was this happy longing feeling.

I fell in love with the characters -all if not most of them.

Something I really liked was the characterization. You just knew what the characters were like and how they could react to certain things, this is something I’ve always loved about these authors. All their characters -within the story- are unique.

Thora James was, at times, hard to like. I personally love how persistent she was. She just wouldn’t give up and kept trying to improve herself. It was great.

The Kotovas -Luka, Timo, Katya and cousins were a lot of fun. I loved the siblings, of course, but the whole dynamic was very entertaining. I could see a potential for individual books, but I don’t know if that’s something the twins want to do so I don’t have any hope for them really but nevertheless, it’s something worth a deep exploring.

Now, Nikolai… I liked him most of the time, but I just didn’t get into him as much as I thought and for that I need to talk about what I think are the only two things I didn’t like about this story:

The dialogue and the sex.

Look, I’m not saying I know for sure how all people think and talk but a big part of the dialogue is unrealistic. I have never even thought the way Thora was thinking about Nikolai. It was very close to, albeit not that bad, Anastasia Steel’s inner monologue. I just couldn’t help cringing at Hot-Russian-Man-Athlete-God whatever thing that was going on. Not only it was inside her head but because of her, sometimes endearing, tendency to think out loud… well, it was just out there.

So, the sex part. I thought it was going to be hot, but it was very awkward. The whole mf talk about him being a very manly Russian man and her being tiny it was not my cup of tea. It was a current theme and I felt like watching bad porn, to be honest with you. And because of that, the way I pictured the characters in my head changed drastically and not for the good. I just wish someone would’ve told the twins not to include the whole conversation because while it’s okay to express those concerns about how sex with a new partner is going to be and it’s healthy, it was not how it turned out.

That’s why at time I didn’t care about Nikolai but when I did, boy, it was good. I liked how selfless he was and his decisions to take care of his siblings, training Thora and just his persona… he really worked for this book.

Like I said, the atmosphere of this book was dreamy and magical. I loved it a lot.

And when there were mentions of the Core Six, oh, how I squealed!

So, it was a strong book that I’d recommend to a lot of people.

Maria✦❋Steamy Reads Blog❋✦

➦This book was everything I'd expect from a NA novel. I really enjoyed the characters - they are young and full of aspirations, hopes and dreams. I'll make this short:

➦The book follows a life of a young woman who dreams of performing in a circus show as an acrobat. She goes to New York to audition and, while out at the club, meets a Russian guy who is part of said show. He's known as God of Russia.

➦So he challenges her to a hand stand competition. She accepts. She looses. He pierces her nipple. No biggie. And then when she comes in for an audition he's there as one of the people judging her. So thus begins their very unprofessional relationship.

➦I loved the sports aspect of this novel, it is intriguing and intense. The main characters are well-developed and the supporting characters are all likable and interesting. It was not an easy task for the mcs to keep their romantic relationship separate from their professional one and it was fascinating being a part of their journey.

➦This one one of those gripping books that make you want to read it in one sitting. I couldn't do that, unfortunately, but I kept wishing I could. :) Recommended!

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Re-reading before the release of Infini! And it's currently on sale for .99$!


"But I've found the truest form of love. It's two loves that can live in perfect harmony. The circus and you," he whispers, "amour amour."
Two loves. Two passions. At perfect balance.

Amour Amour was such a wonderful and unique story! It's a story about following your dreams no matter what, finding love, and discovering yourself.

Thora James is a gymnast and has left everything behind. Her family, her friends, her scholarship. All to pursue her dreams of joining an aerial circus act. This leads her to Vegas to audition for a hit show called Amour and is where she meets the show's star Nikolai Kotova. And what an interesting first meeting that was.

"If his eyes are hell, his tongue is heaven, and I would gladly return."

Nikolai and Thora train together, and eventually fall for one another. As someone who has been insecure for a lot of her life, being with Nikolai and his brothers and sister who are also in the circus shows Thora what it's like to gain confidence and become part of a family where passion and love are front and center.

I LOVED Nikolai and his relationship with Thora. Talk about the PERFECT MAN.

When his humor fades, what remains is longing. In deep Russian, he whispers a phrase I've only heard once before.
"What does that mean?" I ask, my pulse beginning to race again as I catch certain words.
"Here is my heart." His thumb skims my neck. "It is full of love."

The other characters, especially Timo and John (!!!), stole the show for me. I was salivating for more scenes from them and when I got them, I didn't want them to end. I cannot wait for Luka's book Infini. His rebel ways were so intriguing and no doubt will make for a crazy entertaining book.

If you've yet to read a book from these authors (and you should read their books like NOW), this is a great addition to the wonderful worlds they have created. No one writes family and friend dynamics quite like Krista and Becca. Their characters always feel so REAL. It's something that is hard to describe unless you have experienced the magic that is their books. And if you have, you most definitely know what I mean. If you are already a fan of them (because how could you not be?!) then I know you will just love Amour Amour, Nikolai and Thora, and the rest of the incredible characters.

"It's a dream that I'm living. Every day. With him."

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"Love is a circus."


Thora James is a small town girl with big dreams. When the gymnasts lands an audition with a renowned Vegas circus act, she hops on a plane. Her first night in Sin City leads to a chance meeting with one of the stars of Armour, Nikolai Kotova, when she becomes a part of his Saturday night dare. Unfortunately for Thora, when it comes down to landing the role, she doesn't really have what it takes, but she is determined to improve and with the help of Nikolai she may get to live her dream.

“Every day, I hold a person’s life in my hands. The circus is based one-hundred percent off trust. I give it all to someone, and they give it all to me. I’m asking you, right now, to trust me.”

I enjoyed this swoon worthy romance, full of wonderful characters, about a young girl striving to achieve her dreams, and figuring out what is truly important.

"The circus and you," he whispers, "amour amour." Two loves. Two passions. At perfect balance."


“I no longer want to live in fantasy.
I want the images in my mind to be real.
It’s why I’m in Vegas after all. Following my dreams.”

This was another phase of I-can't-fall-asleep-and-it's-3am-so-let's-just-read, and thankfully I was so swept up into Thora's journey that I barely noticed the hours fly by. It was magical. I didn't even feel a hinge of regret upon finally waking up with minimal sleep.

And since this book started off so promising, here's a list of things that I loved (and later on hated) in Amour Amour:

• I knew this book was a keeper when Thora mentioned One Three Hill in the first chapter:

“He’s not the Clyde to my Bonnie or the Damon to my Elena. Shay is and will always be the Lucas to my Haley. A great, protective friend. Like that of One Tree Hill. Who will point out the storm ahead for me while I choose to relish in the sunshine.”

A girl after my own heart.
• However, I quickly realized that I hated her “friend” with a fiery passion. Shay was the definition of an awfully unsupportive friend. And I despised how he repeatedly teared down all of Thora's hopes and dreams. So I was more than glad to see him gone.
• But on a positive note, the first two chapters of Amour Amour are completely stellar. They had me so hooked that I couldn't let go until my eyes literally hurt from reading. Aka one of the best feelings.
• I also loved how Thora believed in herself. Like she said, “I am my biggest cheerleader. Always have been. Probably always will be.” It was inspiring having a main character saving herself in this one (at least, in the first half).
• Thora's meet-cute with Nikolai was anything but cute. It did, however, leave me on the edge of my seat, screaming, “Did she just do that?” “Did he just say that?” “HELP.” To say that it was unlike anything I'd read before would be a severe understatement. (Piercing her fucking nipple!!!) But it did its job in leaving a lasting impression on me with the addition of an intoxicating adrenaline rush.

“Guess what, myshka?” The glow necklace and strobe lights swath him in deep red.
“What…?” I hesitate.
He stands. Towers, really. And he tilts my chin up. With grays like gunmetal skies, bearing down from up above, he says, “I choose you.”

This was literally my facial expression upon meeting Nikolai Kotova:

I was daring myself to dislike this six-foot-five Russian athlete, but in my heart of hearts, I knew I was a goner for his tricks.

• Side note: the number of times this book mentioned Nikolai's height is kind of funny. You could low-key make a drinking game out of it…
• I also found it both comical and cute how Thora liked reading paranormal romances. Especially when she recommend her favorite one to Nikolai's sixteen-year-old sister, Katya. Which she ended up loving so much she almost missed practice:

“If you want to try out for Noctis, you need a full-in, full-out or a triple sault, and you’re not going to get there by sitting on your ass, reading…” He scrutinizes the paperback’s title and cover (legs intertwined on a blue silk sheet) with confusion and then gives me a weird look.
“It’s a good book,” I assure him. Though I start to wonder whether it’s age appropriate. I mean, I was reading explicit adult books at twelve—but I didn’t really understand some of the graphic sex scenes. Sixteen can’t be that bad.”

This had me cackling.
• And since we're on the topic of his siblings, I have to say that I fucking loved the Kotovas. They are what made this book so much better. Especially in the end when Thora and Nikolai's romance left me extremely underwhelmed. Real talk, those two failed at making me feel or experience any kind of emotions when they got together. There wasn't anything special or exciting about them after that initial meeting at the club. So Nik and Thora just ended up being your average hetero romance between two white people. And all the fun I experienced when they'd just met and were circling around each other kind of disappeared.
• Thankfully, I still had the rest of the Kotova family for my entertainment: from gambling issues to competitiveness and alpha glaring contests to kleptomania, this book has it all. If I had to sum up this family in one word, I'd say they're kind of a mess... the kind that reminded me of the Gallaghers in Shameless.

Nikolai even had a similar scene as Fiona Gallagher about raising his brothers and sister:

“You raised your siblings. You realize that, right?”
He lets out a short laugh. “Not well enough.”
I frown and shake my head. The waiter comes around and takes our orders. A salmon dish for me, and chicken for him.
“You’re wrong,” I tell him, the flames creating shadows over his strong features in the dark. He looks like a devil dressed in black at first sight, but coming to know him, he’s the god that everyone describes. “Katya is sweet and friendly.” I think about his brother, the one who offered me mints and stole Skittles for his little sister. “Luka is generous and kind.” And Timo—magnetic. There are no just words to define him. I smile, staring off. “And Timo is…captivating, more full of life than anyone I’ve ever met.”

I love siblings that take care of each other, so this made me as emotional as Fiona's speech.
• And continuing about the tv show, I kept thinking of Debbie Gallagher when Katya was around. Since both were raised by older siblings, wanted to grow up faster and earn their independence. Oh, and just throwing this idea out there: I'd be over the moon excited if Katya got her own point of view in a later sequel.
• One last positive was that Amour Amour included LGBTQIA+ aspects: Thora's friend, John Ruiz, gets together with one of the Kotova brothers, Timo. They're one of the reasons why I want to continue on with the sequel.

“Don’t stare into his eyes!” John shouts to me. “Little parts of you will die inside!”
He almost lifts my spirits.
A smile stretches Timo’s beautiful features. “So you’re admitting to feeling something from me, John?!”
John glares. “Death. I feel death!”
Timo whistles, but I can’t hear the sound from the pop song. “That’s a strong feeling.”

And it's also why I loved this tweet.
• But quickly circling back to the main Kotova brother: Nikolai. I mentioned before how I was a goner for him... but that was before he fully showed his overly protective, possessive and controlling side. It just left me with a sour taste in my mouth. Like, I physically cringe when I think back on his behavior.

• And since I'm on a roll about the negatives, Amour Amour was also so damn unnecessary looooong. As a result, my thoughts kept shifting when I wasn't captivated by what was happening. Which ended up occurring quite often when the Kotova siblings weren't in the picture.
• I started skimming around towards the last 100 or so pages. I just didn't see what it had going on other than Nikolai's obsession with Thora. So I ended up high-key despising that convenient ending for those two to be together.
For now, I'm hesitant on whether I should move on to Luka's story in Infini, since I'm interested to see what surprises that one will hold (hopefully less of Nik and Thora). But I still can't ignore how utterly disappointed I am with this book, especially after loving it so damn much for the first half... I guess only time will tell.

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OMG. New standalone from Krista & Becca Ritchie!!!!!

"Every day,” he says lowly, “I hold a person’s life in my hands. The circus is based one-hundred percent off of trust. I give it all to someone, and they give it all to me.”

Sounds good!!