Review: Balanced and Tied (Marshals #5) by Mary Calmes

Rating: 4.75 🌈

Balanced and Tied, fifth in the Marshals series, is a terrific story. It combines the wonderful qualities I love about Mary Calmes characters with a slow to realization love story and a mystery for added suspense.

Uniting the unique worlds of law enforcement and ballet, we have two men whose love for each other has been balanced between deepest friendship and that of something more since the day they met.

Celso Harrington, principal dancer with the Chicago Ballet Company, has long since admitted to himself that what he feels for Eli is definitely more than friendship. But Eli is his everything, including family, and he’s hesitant to go for more.

For Deputy US Marshal Eli Kohn , Cel is his constant. Without even noticing it, Cel is the one he wants to talk to, listen to, and just have near when things have gone wrong. What Eli hasn’t done, is taken a hard look at what that means in terms of a relationship. He’s never thought of himself as bisexual but he hasn’t ruled it out.

Calmes brings us intimately into this established relationship, giving us small memories of their past moments, so we see how they reached their current stage of a unacknowledged partnership that’s deep and fully realized. It’s so believable. And it includes Eli’s Jewish mother, who immediately adopts Cel as part of the family, taking him to synagogue, enveloping him with maternal love and grounding him in the religion that’s so much a part of the Kohn family lives. She’s a wonderful heartwarming element here.

Calmes swings easily between narrators, threading through storylines of law enforcement and ballet events as well as characters from both men’s professions. We get to know many secondary characters when a mystery and dramatic events start to happen when a new ballet is to be staged to great misery.

I wish the one villain had been a little better fleshed out but the rest of the characters, story, and romance was so terrific and entertaining that I can move past that.

Cel and Eli are a great example of friends to lovers trope. They make sense in that they had the relationship already but one just hadn’t made the connection mentally when the emotional elements were already in place. Calmes makes us believe in them and their love.

I’m highly recommending Balanced and Tied (Marshals #5) by Mary Calmes. It works as a standalone so it’s not necessary to have read others in this series.

Marshals series:

◦ All Kinds Of Tied Down #1

◦ Fit To Be Tied #2

◦ Tied Up In Knots #3

◦ Twisted and Tied #4

✓ Balanced and Tied #5 › Balance…Balanced and Tied (Marshals Book 5) – Kindle edition –


Deputy US Marshal Eli Kohn is doing fine. As the Director of Public Affairs for the Northern District, he represents the USMS in Chicago and that suits him. Yes, it’s wearing to always be on, to smile and wave even in the face of adversity, but he’s good at his job, and no one ever sees him sweat. His personal life, though, has been stagnant, and that doesn’t seem likely to change. But that’s fine too. Eli would much rather spend his free time with his best friend Cel. And lately, when they’re not together, he’s been missing him more and more…

Celso Harrington, principal dancer with the Chicago Ballet Company, has been feeling adrift, yearning for someone to be there for him, to ground him. Strange to find that anchor in a man who caught bad guys for a living. Celso is all about art and beauty; Eli is all about safety and public service. They could not be more different, yet from the moment they met, it felt like they’d known each other forever.

They are exactly what the other needs, and Celso would love them to be more than friends, but he can’t jeopardize what they have, and Eli’s too stuck inside his own head. When events threaten to unravel their carefully built haven, they each must take a chance on the other or risk losing everything.


Unless it’s noted, all books reviewed have been purchased by the reviewer.

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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