Life On The Edge
by Jennifer Comeaux
Published on January 2012
Published by Astraea Press
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream–to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.
Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily's dreams of gold.
There is something that really appeals to me about mixing romance with a female kicking butt in some sport. This novel caught my attention just based on that, but throw in that this author is also a Louisiana girl and I knew I had to read it.
We are sucked into the lives of Emily, Chris, their coach Sergei as well as that of their friends. The book is focused on Emily who at the beginning has made a recent career shift from single skating to pairs. She is highly competitive and driven and has her eye on an eventual olympic gold. Because her life revolves around the sport she is a bit sheltered and inexperienced in anything other than skating. She has an overprotective and sometimes overbearing mother and a friendship with her partner Chris that has a familial feel. Chris' lightness and easy going nature are a good balance for her intensity and nerves. These two are surrounded by a supporting cast of characters whose lives also revolve around skating and have minor roles to play in the story.
At the story's start, Emily has an easy camaraderie with their coach Sergei. When she starts to assist him in coaching a younger skating pair they begin to spend more and more time together getting to know each other in entirely new ways. Feelings grow but unfortunately coach and student relationships are heavily frowned upon in the US skating world. The story takes us through initially denying their feelings to attempting a relationship and all the hurdles along the way.
The romance in this book is of the sweet and sentimental type. It is a nice break from the edgier books that have populated New Adult fiction lately. Not that there aren't serious issues that develop that have to be overcome because there are many problems they encounter. After all, their relationship is forbidden and there is a lot Emily does not know about Sergei's past. Notably, it is a clean read. Astraea Press only publishes books without direct sex or swearing in them.
Where Jennifer Comeaux sets her story apart is in both her knowledge of the Ice Skating sport and the way she weaves it into the story. It isn't just written well in the practices and performances but also in the psyches of the characters and all the challenges that would present in a coach/student relationship. She also does a good job of writing her characters with realistic flaws. Emily shares an amazing stubbornness with her mother that can be both a benefit and hindrance depending on the situation. Too often other authors don't craft their characters with traits that are consistent or so realistic.
I do recommend this book to those who are looking for something a little lighter and cleaner in contemporary fiction/romance. There is plenty of sexual tension just not any actual sex scenes. It might be a little too sugary in places for those that prefer a grittier romance but it was a nice change of pace for me.
It is part of a 3 book series with a free short story extra between the second and third books. If you are not a fan of series then this books is easily read as a stand alone and it ends in a good place with nice resolution. I am cautious with series and I didn't know this book was part of one when I started. I have continued on with the next installment and really enjoyed it as well. The second book, Edge of the Past, is a little less light and dives into repercussions from Sergei's past into the present. I was very happy with the direction and resolution of the events and am eagerly waiting the last installment. The last book, which has not yet been published, will open the view points to more characters and focus equally on Emily's partner Chris as well as her best friend and Ice Dancer Aubrey.
Link to the second book can be found here: Goodreads- Edge Of The Past
Link to the short story between books two and three here: Goodreads- Reaching the Edge
Link to the third book can be found here: Goodreads- Fighting for the Edge