A figure skater going for a come-back and getting a second chance at the one he let get away. How could I say no? Love the sport of figure skating and was keen to try a new author and series. The story ended up not being what I expected-well in essentials it was, but in the details I had to make some adjustments to appreciate what I got.
This was book three in the Red Hot Russians series. I hadn’t read the others, but I had no problem starting with this one as there was only a loose connection. I do want to go back for the other stories after getting a little slice of them in this one.
The story opens with high school athletic trainer, Amy Shepherd, getting a call in the middle of the night from a man she thought was out of her life for good. She thought she was getting married and was in love all the way up until the point she gets a text that he is gone and taking a coaching job in Chicago. It cut deep and her family’s militant and smothering form of love made it hard to recover. Now, when she is finally back on an even keel and getting on with life, Misha calls because she is the only one in his life that can help him.
Mikhail Zaikov, once Russia’s most promising figure skating hope and bronze Olympic medalist lost it all. Injuries and surgery on his back knocked him out of the game, he ran away from the love of his life, lost his first coaching job, and now lies unable to move on his back in a cheap motel room in the middle of nowhere. In a haze of pain, he calls Amy, the woman he hurt deeply, and she comes. Her forgiveness and compassion are his undoing. Amy won’t leave him where he has landed and drags him back with her.
Amy isn’t sure it was wise to bring Misha home with her because her feelings are still there for him, but she can’t leave him there defeated and willing to live in a cheap motel flipping burgers at a diner. His life is on the ice and he needs it like air. If only she can get him back in his skates and taking an interest in teaching and coaching. But what she awakens in Misha leaves her terrified and excited. He wants it all. He wants what he lost and he is going for it. But his back can’t take the pressure of the high level of competition. He wants her there beside him as his trainer, but she will have to go toe to toe with a militant coach and the demons of Misha’s past to help him fearing that he will always put ambition before love. And where does that leave her? Them?
Alright. This book told the story of a comeback. I love that type of story and was already prepared to root for it to happen. The author took the time to show just how far Misha has fallen and also give him and Amy a back story. The second half of the book went behind the scenes in the world of competitive figure skating in Russia. I felt I was there.
As to the characters, again, they felt real and their situation felt real. Their lives were balanced against the sport and romance aspect. I liked the internal growth, the conflict, and how it developed. The hero is Russian and half the story takes place in Russia. Like the characters and the ice skating world, this cultural backdrop was also authentic and fascinating. I feel that the author put an amazing amount of work into her stories to bring all this about. I enjoyed Misha and Amy’s romance and they were great together even if they viewed things differently, but I confess that the romance was only one of the elements I loved.
But, this is the part that is hard. This story felt long and drawn out. It had all the elements that should have had me riveted, but it just didn’t. I can’t put my finger on it other than maybe writing style? Don’t know. It was an odd tension for me that I wanted to keep reading, but was forced to work hard to stay interested at the same time. Overall, it was good and I’m glad I read it and I also want to go back for the other books. Maybe I just need to get used to the writing style. Still not sure.
So, in summary, I was glad I read this book. I want more. Those who love sport romance particularly in the world of figure skating should pounce on this one. It feels like the real deal and offers up good development, backdrop, passionate romance, and tension.
My thanks to Barclay Publicity for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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