Review: Medal Up – Nicole Flockton & Fiona Marsden
by Fiona Marsden, Nicole Flockton
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Publication Date: February 5, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Two couples tread on thin ice at the Pyeongchang Winter Games in this captivating duology—but love has Olympic-sized impact on their dreams.
Fighting Their Attraction: Snowboarder Brady Thompson landed in Seoul favored to win elusive gold. But instead of fresh powder, he finds that a past he can’t escape is twisting his half-pipe into knots. Figure skater Arielle Baldwin is determined to win a medal so she can walk away from her coach mom’s stranglehold on her life. Can a good girl and a bad boy reaching for their dreams make for a dynamic duo?
Man of Ice: How can the Games go so wrong for friendly, upbeat Maybelle Li? Her ex-skating partner is raining on her parade with memories of the past, and her current partner, Bohdan Dovzhenko, is the hottest thing to hit the ice this decade—and the coldest companion. He’s all work and no conversation beyond grunts and commands. But as their medal hopes rise, so does Bohdan’s word count. He’s not made of stone, and being locked outside of Belle’s sunshine is simply no fun. Now their growing closeness may be too hot to dismiss—but will it burn down their chance to forge a new future as well?
Trigger warnings: View Spoiler »Homophobia (in the past), death of sibling, school shooting (in the past) « Hide Spoiler
This is a duology of two interconnected stories set during the winter Olympics. Though this may seem odd to say, it was nice to see countries other than America represented (most of them are representing Australia, and Arielle is Canadian).
Fighting Their Attraction – Nicole Flockton – ★★★
“Turning to look at the friend he hadn’t seen in more than eight years shouldn’t have been difficult, but it was proving to be. The last thing Brady Thompson let rule his life now was fear. Once, it had. Now, he couldn’t do half the tricks he did if fear controlled his world. Pasting on a smile, he faced his past.”
Brady arrives at the Olympics as a strong contender for a gold medal in snowboarding – and promptly runs into several ex- skating friends, including his old pairs skating partner. Brady burned his bridges with them when he left the sport years ago, so it’s even more inexplicable to him when he finds himself attracted to one of the Canadian skaters, Arielle. And even stranger, Arielle, who doesn’t know anything about Brady except there was a bit of a kerfuffle around him several years ago, is interested despite herself. Her parents – who are also her coaches – have drilled into her that she doesn’t have any time for distractions.
“But people didn’t fall in love in a few days. Especially when they were at a highly emotional event like the Olympics, where one second you’re riding a high and the next you’re in a heap at the bottom of a snowdrift.”
I think what personally struck me the most about this story was Brady’s and Arielle’s parents’ controlling influence on their lives. I mean, Arielle’s mom freaks out when she finds out she went to dinner with Brady, and Brady’s dad is partially responsible for his abandonment of ice skating, not to mention his childish reaction when he thinks Arielle is a distraction to him going for the gold. I think this made the whole relationship feel even more doomed to me, as it doesn’t seem like either person had the maturity since they’re so used to being bossed around by their parents. It was just too insta-love for me to believe.
Man of Ice – Fiona Marsden – ★★★★
This story worked better for me. While calling Belle and Bohdan’s prior relationship a friendship would be a stretch, they at least had more familiarity with each other to build a romantic future on.
“It wasn’t as if she even liked him in that way. Not now. He’d stifled that initial attraction with his indifference right from the start.
Respect, yes. He worked like a demon and was a superb partner, generous with praise even when he was tough about practicing and putting her all into everything.
It had been his drive that put them into medal contention at the last world championships at Helsinki and earned them a spot on the Olympic team even though they’d only been working together for a few months at the time. They’d missed out on a medal, but it had been close enough for the Olympic selectors.”
Maybelle (Brady’s old partner) and Bohdan are competing for Australia in the ice skating pairs competition, though Bohdan is actually Ukranian. Though they’ve only been skating together for a few months, they’re both driven to medal at the Olympics, even though it’s a long shot. Like Brady and Arielle, their families are a strong influence, though there’s a bit more depth behind their reasonings. Bohdan has been taught by his life experiences that it’s best not to get too close to anyone, and Belle isn’t used to doing anything for just herself. Of course, things between them start to shift at the Olympics – the worst possible time! I liked that they both had quite a bit of back story going on, and that they both discovered, as their relationship progressed, that they had other common goals (besides the Olympics) that they wanted to work towards.
Overall, I enjoyed these stories, and I’m rounding up to 4 stars for the book as a whole. Recommended if you’re looking for some winter sports fun!