Review: On the Brink of Passion – Tamsen Parker

Review: On the Brink of Passion – Tamsen ParkerOn the Brink of Passion
by Tamsen Parker
Series: Snow & Ice Games #5
Also in this series: Love on the Tracks, Seduction on the Slopes, On the Edge of Scandal
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Genres: Romance
Pages: 250
Source: NetGalley

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.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

At the last Snow and Ice Games, Jubilee Buford and her husband and partner Stephen Wallace were on top of the pairs figure skating world. The newlyweds won gold and their future looked bright. But just months after she thought her world couldn’t get any more perfect, Jubilee lost everything. After a scrapped attempt at a solo career, her coach found her a new partner and new possibilities in Beckett Hughes.

Beckett’s had a hard time finding a partner to compete with. Someone who’s as aggressive as he is, someone who’s given up as much of their life as he has for success. He finally found a fit with Jubilee two years ago. She’s not much fun to skate with, but Beckett doesn’t need fun; he needs precision and effort and there Jubilee delivers.

When a housing mix-up in the Snow and Ice village forces them to room with each other, they’re suddenly compelled to recognize each other’s human side. And as Jubilee and Beckett start to see each other as people instead of robots on skates, they discover that they’ve got chemistry between the sheets as well as on the ice. But the flames between them in the bedroom might melt any chance they have at medaling, and that outcome is not acceptable to either one, or the country that’s counting on them to bring home the gold and the glory.

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4 stars icon contemporary icon romance icon skating sports icon

Trigger warnings: death of spouse and partner, grief, panic attacks

This is the last book of the Snow & Ice Games series, loosely based on the winter Olympics.  While it’s part of series, each book can be read as a stand-alone, though, honestly, they’re awesome, so just read them all!  Spoilers for the book below, as there were some aspects I wanted to talk about in depth.

Jubilee and Beckett are fairly new ice skating partners, and this is their first time together at the SIGs.  Jubilee, however, competed at the last Games with her husband, who has since tragically passed away.  She’s initially relieved to find that she has a room to herself – until a mix-up leads to Beckett rooming with her.  While they’re partners on the ice, it would be highly charitable to go so far as to even call them friends.  Jubilee is a serious, driven ice queen, fully focused on taking advantage of this chance at the SIGs, from rounding up sponsors through interviews to practicing their routine to make it as perfect as possible.  At one point, Beckett says that Jubilee “lives as though having fun is a crime punishable by death.”  The last thing she wants to do is to deal with any emotions about the last time she was at the SIGs, before her husband died.  Beckett has his own reasons for avoiding a relationship with Jubilee.  He dated his last partner, and was left even more brokenhearted when she kicked him to the curb after they didn’t make the last SIGs.  This time, he thinks he has a real shot at the gold with Jubilee, and he does not want to screw that up.

“’Okay then. Just, you know, give me a minute.’
Jubilee’s eyes get big and doubtful, and she heaves what is probably the most massive sigh possible given her small frame. ‘Sure, Beckett.  You just let me know when you’re ready to blow my mind. I’ll be reading my book.’”

So, naturally, they end up having some seriously awkward “I dare you” sex.  There is some reasoning behind it (Beckett not bringing hookups back to their room), but both characters admit that, at some point, it just becomes a matter of pride and not backing down from a stupid dare.  And while these are probably the least sexy sex scenes I’ve ever read, they’re an amazing insight into exactly how f’ed up Jubilee and Beckett’s relationship is.  For Beckett, the whole thing is just a exercise in trying to provoke Jubilee into showing some emotions, but for Jubilee it’s a desperate grasp to keep control of the situation.

At one point, when Beckett has basically dared her to go hang out with him at the SIG bar, she wishes she were back at their room watching Tangled.  So, going mostly off-tangent: there’s a particular quote from that movie, when Rapunzel asks Flynn what to do after her dream to see the floating lights is gone, and he answers, “You get to go find a new dream.”  I’ve heard this particular quote mentioned a lot in the grief and special needs parenting communities (perhaps because it’s a concise version of the “Welcome to Holland” story), and it fit Jubilee as well.  For Jubilee, her old dream and her new dream are inextricably intertwined – winning another gold medal at the SIGs, but this time with her new partner.  And if she has a relationship – one with feelings, not just sex – with Beckett, then it feels like she’s just repeating history, because she’s convinced she’ll lose him just like she lost Stephen.  And even though this is something that Jubilee herself has trouble expressing, Beckett’s able to understand that, even if he’s ready relationship, Jubilee isn’t, and may never be.

“’How about you just do what you always do and let me lead?’
She looks up at me with that sweet little scowl on her face. ‘I have so much fuck you in my heart right now.’

Ok, so heavy grief stuff aside, this book is quite funny.  There was a side-plot with Beckett’s former skating partner that I felt was extraneous given the strength of the main plot line, but besides that, there was very little to complain about.  And one final note, since is the last of the Snow & Ice Games series – wow, what an amazing ride!  I’m definitely hoping Ms. Parker writes a Summer Olympics series!

Overall, this was an fantastic end to the series.  Recommended for anyone needing an ice skating fix, especially if you like romances between two strong, hilarious characters!

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