Two people with a passion for ballet and each other meet in Soviet-era Russia when the woman is shooting a documentary on the man, and fall in love, but then need to escape Russia before the man's secrets catch up with him. Tiffany is a documentary filmmaker in Chicago, lonely and struggling to get over her past, with her best friends and her married old sister as support. She was in a car crash five years ago that killed her parents and left her with broken bones and years of physical and emotional therapy, all of which also cost Tiffany her career as a ballet dancer as well. So Tiffany is thrilled when her next assignment is to cover a famous Russian male ballet dancer named Nikolai in Moscow, who is distinguished for being the most prolific, highly paid and high profile ballerino.
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In Moscow, Tiffany is shocked by the sharp contrast of wealth and poverty (this is Soviet-era Moscow), Mikhail, the director of the ballet company, introduces her to Nikolai. Nikolai is tall, arrogant, and sophisticated, and when he learns that she is a former ballet dancer, he mocks her for lacking the ambition and drive to carry on in the art. Tiffany hates him and decides to film her documentary as quickly, professionally and coldly as possible and then leave. They unwittingly introduce each other the worlds they come from. Tiffany sees the the struggle that Russian ballet dancers go through in the shackled economy and political oppression of the USSR, and Nikolai sees the dreams and possibilities open to ballet dancers in the United States. He also becomes more sympathetic when he learns of Tiffany's career-ending injury, but it is a little late for that and Tiffany is still angry with him, even though the sexual attraction is obvious on both sides. Her suspicions of Nikolai's character intensify when she sees signs that Nikolai is being possibly watched by the KGB. However, their bond grows when Nikolai authoritatively convinces Tiffany to resume trying to dance. They have private dances in the practice room after she is done following him around for the day with a camera, and Tiffany feels her passion and her excitement come alive in a way it hasn't for a long time. They begin to fall in love with each other, though Tiffany does not trust her instincts and thinks that he might just not care for her the same way. As the documentary winds up, Nikolai's friend and fellow dancer Galina finds herself pregnant, and bursts into tears at the idea that her lifetime of dancing is likely over, but also that she doesn't have the money to raise a child in Soviet Russia.
Nikolai decides he doesn't want to spend the rest of his life in Russia either, and hatches a plan to escape into the US with Tiffany, where they can get start afresh in ballet again. Tiffany is puzzled as to how Nikolai plans to get out of Russia, but he is authoritative and certain of his ideas. The night of Nikolai's final performance, he dances magnificently, but at the last act, he gets his understudy Vasily to replace him. The audience's eyes trained on Vasily, assuming he is Nikolai, the coast is clear now to escape. With the help of Mikhail, they get into a secret car in the dead of night and drive away, and on the way Tiffany notices that Nikolai's motorbike has been burned. She is horrified as they drive through the night to Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), as Nikolai admits that the KGB suspects him of trying to flee, though he refuses to admit why. Their car is identified when they are almost there and they are forced to hide with Galina's boyfriend, who says he can only take one of them safely to the consulate. Nikolai insists that Tiffany go. She is reluctant but he insists, so she reaches the American consulate at Leningrad and gets in with her passport. Hours later, to her shock, Nikolai arrives - and it turns out he arrived moments before she did, but had been closeted with the Foreign Service and the CIA. Tiffany is shocked when Nikolai reveals he has been a spy for the Americans for years, and always knew that in return for defecting to the US, he would get asylum when he needed it. The time had been almost upon him to leave, he explained to her, when it became clear that the KGB were starting to suspect him. Tiffany's arrival gave him the perfect time to plan an escape if he wanted to, since he couldn't die suspiciously during a documentary, but he had found that he didn't want to leave Russia unless it was for Tiffany, because he fell in love with her. Overwhelmed, Tiffany admits her love too, and they kiss. They are put on a plane back to New York City, where Tiffany is from, and make plans to marry.
Best part of story, including ending:
It was overblown and dramatic even by Harlequin standards
Best scene in story:
when Tiffany takes a taxi through Moscow for the first time and gets an eye-opening glimpse of life behind the "iron curtain".
Opinion about the main character:
I thought both Nikolai and Tiffany were a little impulsive and cheesy.