by Tamsen Parker
Series: Snow & Ice Games #4
Also in this series: Love on the Tracks, Seduction on the Slopes, On the Edge of Scandal
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Blaze Bellamy is the bad girl of the short track speed skating world. Looking like a roller derby bruiser when she’s not in her Team USA uniform, she’s an unlikely American heroine. She’s got a punk attitude to match her provocative dress and her dyed hair, and she’s determined to get onto the front pages of the papers regardless of how she has to do it.
Maisy Harper is the workhorse of the Canadian women’s figure skating team. Serious, modest, and above all, polite, Maisy would prefer to win her victory on the ice rather than in the press, and is exasperated by Blaze’s antics. When she’s not lusting after her anyway. After they both failed to make the medal podium at the last Snow and Ice Games, they drowned themselves in gin—and each other.
Despite their hookup being drunken, they both harbor fond memories of their night together and are keen for a repeat. But they’ve got different ways of going about getting what they want, and Blaze’s willingness to go to any lengths for the spotlight could ruin any chance she has with Maisy.
Man, I was just so disappointed by this book. It’s the fourth book in the Snow & Ice Games series, each of which can be read as a stand-alone. I was particularly impressed by the second book, Seduction on the Slopes, which was m/m, so I guess I was hoping that the f/f book would also be great. Unfortunately, while I liked parts of it, there were also parts I didn’t care for.
“I’m frustrated by my performance today. It’s not so much the losing. That happens and I wasn’t counting on a big win today. My best events are later—the ones that require stamina, not short bursts of speed. But if I can’t win, if I have to get disqualified, I could at least do it in style, in a way that’s going to get me some attention, not in some boring-ass way no one gives a shit about. If I can’t be victorious, I’d like to be notorious.”
Blaze does short track speed skating, which she describes as both “roller derby on ice” and “abbreviated NASCAR on skates.” I liked how ridiculously over the top Blaze was. She’s bisexual and polyamorous, and thrives on attention, positive or negative – to her, it’s validation that she matters. There’s nothing she likes better than being on the front page of all the gossip sites. Maisy, in contrast, is known as Canada’s Ice Princess, both for her figure skating and reserved demeanor. However, in private with Blaze, she’s ridiculously assertive and dominant, which was quite fun. Maisy’s parents consider her “both less and more than” – they view her sexuality as an attention-grab rather than how she is, and are basically disproving if she’s anything other than elegant or perfect.
“Also, it’s Blaze being Blaze. Her body is her currency and she uses it to trade for what she wants. As a fellow athlete, I get it. It’s what we have to offer the world.
It’s not the way I choose to trade mine, and my first reaction to her stunts is always teenage wrinkled-nose disgust. Like, ew, who does that? But my grandma told me once that the first thing that comes into your head is what you’ve been taught, it’s what comes next that’s what you believe.”
Of course, while they may be perfectly compatible in bed, out in the real world is something different. As you’d expect, the practically exhibitionist Blaze and shy, introverted Maisy have to learn how to adapt to each other, and I was extremely happy to see that Ms. Parker had them both compromise, rather than expect Maisy to just “loosen up.” Blaze teaches Maisy that she is enough, just as she is, and that showing the world the person she is inside is better than striving to be a perfect automaton. Maisy teaches Blaze that external validation, while nice, isn’t as necessary as validation from yourself and those who love you.
My main problem is that this felt like two separate books. The first half was basically really long, steamy sexcapade, and it wasn’t until the second half of the book that I felt like the characters had any depth. While sex scenes are fun, I usually read romance books for, well, the romance, and it felt like the characters didn’t have any sort of relationship outside of banging each other as much as possible. There’s one particularly sweet scene in the first half of Maisy washing and then cutting Blaze’s hair, which I loved, but a few pages later they’re back to fisting and I was just left wanting less banging and more relationship. The irony didn’t escape me that the point where I actually started really liking the book – the second half – was when they’d broken up and weren’t spending any time together. The first half of the book was like a 2, the second half a 4, so averaging this out to a 3.
Overall, enjoyable, but oddly paced.