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?
This book is the perfect example of the importance of a good narrator. I had tried to read this book when it first came out a couple of years back. But I just couldn’t get into it. I thought Matty was too whiny, too vain, too shallow, too annoying… and the book was too long and rambling. So I put it aside on the “everybody-but-me-loved-this-hate-it-when-that-happens”-shelf and forgot about it. Then the audio cam out and at first it wasn’t on my radar, until I saw who had narrated it! Michael Ferraiuolo is one of my all time favourite narrators, so I thought if anyone could turn this book around for me, it would be him! And I was so right! He brings it!
Matty is still whiny, vain, shallow and annoying, but he is also kind and generous and insecure. And his forever boyfriend – ice skating – takes that insecurity and punishes him with it over and over again.
After an injury and some disappointing results in the last Olympic games, Matty finds himself in Montana house-sitting and getting back into shape for the upcoming season. Here he meets his hunky neighbor, Rob and his 12 year old son, Ben. Rob is everything Matty isn’t, he is Montana personified. He is ruggedness and slow cooking, he is wide open fields and the north star in the sky and he is, it turns out, an amazing boyfriend too.
This story is long, it takes place over several years, and I can still see why I gave up the first time I tried reading it. It is long and in places it may feel a bit of a drag, especially because it is all so hurtful! Ice skating continues to kick Matty over and over again, and yet, he keeps going back to his abusive first love, whilst everyone he loves just have to watch him go. It hurts!
But however much it hurts, however much you want to shake Matty until his teeth rattles, you still understand his choices and the reasoning behind making them. There is some truly great characterization going on here, because I understood, I really did. I wanted to disagree, but I did understand. And don’t worry, at the end of it all, at the end of 12 exhausting hours of hurt we get our happy ending after all.