Training Season by Leta Blake ~ Review by Lirtle Grafton

I love ice skating, I love a challenging story and the chance to read a new author to me made this one irresistible. I didn’t anticipate being completely amazed and seeing this one land on my unforgettable shelf.  But it did.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00047]Title: Training Season

Author: Leta Blake

Publisher: Leta Blake

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the Publisher:

Unquestionably talented figure skater Matty Marcus is willing to sacrifice everything for his Olympic dream, but his lack of discipline cost him the gold once before. Now the pressure’s on. He needs a coach who can keep him in line, but top coaches don’t come cheap, and Matty can’t afford to stay in the game no matter how badly he wants to win.

When a lucrative house-sitting gig brings him to rural Montana, Matty does his best to maintain his training regimen. Local residents turn out to be surprisingly tolerant of his flamboyant style, especially handsome young rancher Rob Lovely, who proves to be much more than a cowboy stereotype. Just as Matty requires a firm hand to perform his best on the ice, Rob shows him how strong he can be when he relinquishes control in the bedroom. With new-found self-assurance, he drives himself harder to go straight to the top.

But competition has a timetable, and to achieve his Olympic dream, Matty will have to join his new coach in New York City, leaving Rob behind. Now he must face the ultimate test. Has he truly learned how to win—on and off the ice—during his training season?

Life: unexpected, imperfect, thrilling and heart-filled… and I want more:

When I finished reading this book, I was in a bit of a haze. I turned off my kindle and I found myself quietly going about doing small things around my apartment, slightly distracting, nothing too terribly taxing. I realized I was trying to process, even separate myself from the emotional ride I had just survived. Emotional distance. We all do it. I don’t know the last time I’d done that in reaction to a book. Not that I could think much of anything, at least nothing more challenging than washing my face or putting dishes away. What follows is my attempt to try and explain how this happened, without giving too much away.

I was not at all expecting what I got in this story. I really didn’t have many at all. I try not to when I’m starting one, except for the general hope that I like the book as I’m reading it and still do when I’m finished. This one fits this bill and so much more.

This started out with pleasant introductions to characters and settings. Matty as a character allowed me to see early on the humor and depth of knowledge this author has of these people she’s created. The glimpses of Matty’s family and best friend are included in this. Matty is sarcastic, caring, confident – cocky even – when it comes to his skating (at least he was before the situation he finds himself in at the start of this) and is usually quick to realize his verbal mistakes when they collide with others’ feelings. He’s just not always quick enough to stop from making those mistakes.

Then we meet Rob, a seeming opposite to Matty in many ways, but none of them are screamed from mountaintops with neon colored signs. Rob is strong, also has a good sense of humor, is caring, intelligent and dealing with his own crossroads of sorts in his life. We slowly start to find out that he is what Matty needs and wants out of life, and Matty is the same for Rob.

This one snuck up on me. And like Matty, I was quick to realize it’d done so. Between the ease with which Ms Blake handles language and her use of that ease to bring such an emotionally honest and bare, nowhere to hide story, I had no chance. I felt the surprise and uncertainty of these characters. I sank into the heat and security. I let the richness and progress glide and ripple over my heart. Even now, I still struggle for the words.

There was a first for me with a scene in this book. It was one of the most intimate, revealing, loving and truthful parts of a love scene I’ve ever experienced. Just like any treasured first, I don’t want to let it go, to disappear. Even though I know I can never experience it again as a first, I know that the next time I read this story, it will still whisper to me unlike any other.

There is pain in this book. Both Matty and Rob arrive at the start of this story coming from places of pain. There is pain they share, willingly. There is pain that seems insurmountable. All of it necessary to the story. No cheap shots.

I could talk about the structure, the way time is handled, but I want that to be yours. I could talk about the friends and family of Matty and Rob, but I want you to meet them for yourselves. I could talk about food and sex and skating and cooking, but I want you to have those things to discover for yourselves.

I think I could come back to this review every day and easily find something to add, something to highlight, something that popped into my heart that day and made me say ‘Oh, yeah!’ and smile at the memory.

Bottom line: this is a piece of fiction that will be around years from now, still being read, still causing emotional exclamations and snorts of delight. For me, this is going on that same list with Jane Eyre, The Godfather, Into This River I Drown, From Russia With Love, Lonesome Dove, Special Forces, North and South – not as hyperbole but as those books that have and will become a permanent part of me. These all contain characters that have become as much a part of me as my own DNA. Yep, I think I’m still in a haze.

There aren’t too many guarantees in life, we all know that, but I think I can come pretty damn close in saying you’ll be changed for having read this story. I feel like I haven’t said enough and this book deserves every positive word that can be said about it.

Buy Links:

Leta Blake
Amazon
All Romance eBooks

 

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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