Liza Petrov's entire life has been about skating and winning her sport's top prize - Olympic gold. She's stayed sheltered inside her bubble, not daring to stray from her destined path. Until she meets Braden Patrick. He makes her heart flutter with possibility, and for the first time she gets a taste of a normal teenage life. She longs to have both the boy and the gold, but stepping outside her bubble comes with a price. As Liza begins to question both her future and her past, can she stay focused on the present and realize her ultimate dream?
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The book started out as a slower, more Young Adult contemporary 3-rose-worthy story. Not bad in any way, but I did find myself having to actively stay with the story, as it didn't really pull me in and keep me there, the way a really good book does. It was sweet, very one-dimensional, and somewhat stereotypical for what I'd expect an ice-skating story to be. It honestly felt like all the others out there about ice-skaters in high school - not bad, but...typical.
Then things kicked up a notch. I'm honestly not sure what happened, but the author's voice changed about a third of the way into the book. The pace picked up, the story became more aggressive, and several layers appeared out of no where. The "hook" this book lacked in the beginning, grabbed me hard, and it was awesome.
In a way, it felt as though the character grew up a bit, and the story grew up with her. As she got stronger, the story got stronger, and more gripping. Fitting, for a coming-of-age story. There were enough plot twists and layers in the last half of the book to make it feel as though I'd experienced an entire series. Many authors probably would have chopped it into at least two books, if not three, and it would fit today's market. I loved it as is.
This book is deep, emotional, realistic, and well written. The slow start at the beginning simply ended up being a "calm before the storm" for the rest of the book, and once I hit the meat of it, I was enthralled. The family dynamics were dramatic and modern enough to fit a television script, and the multi-cultural aspect was wonderful. I also enjoyed the fact it was a sweet romance, and while the author could have made it much more inappropriate, she cleverly dropped hints where she wanted the readers' imaginations to go, without spelling it all out. I prefer that - I don't like reading romance scenes on paper, but it is something that happens in real life. Any author who can add it in with tact and finesse, earns my respect as a skillful writer.
Just as skillful as the writer, was the narrator. Between her portrayal of all the characters, accents, ages and culture, she had her work cut out for her. She did amazing, and I had no problem picturing everything easily. Her voice was relaxing, while delivering all the inflections I could imagine the author had added, and made the characters come to life. I was impressed, and couldn't have imagined a better narration.
Overall, this book blew me out of the water. I adore sports-related stories, however finding a good one these days seems to be a challenge. I was somewhat wary going into this one, but was incredibly pleased. I would definitely recommend this book to others, and do plan to listen/read it again.
*I received a complimentary audiobook copy of this book, from the author via YA Bound Book Tours, to listen to in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks the author and the promotion company for the opportunity.