Title: Training Season
Author: Leta Blake
My Rating: A+
Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Main Characters: Matty and Rob
Release Date: December 2013
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic
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?
I'm not usually a fan of m/m stories which feature a flamboyant character, but something about this story line appealed to me (and probably the fact that I was offered it during the Olympics helped, too.) I am so, so glad that I accepted the book for review because I absolutely LOVED it... to the point where I'm debating buying a print copy for my keeper shelf.
So much about this story was so good. The story features a rugged, outdoorsy cowboy who runs a ranch in Montana, Rob; and the flamboyant, driven, talented figure skater trying to rediscover his center, Matty. I love how Matty has no clue that Rob is gay for so long...he just enjoys his easy friendship, wicked sense of humor, and the eye-candy. It comes as quite a shock to him that there are actually gay men out there in rugged Montana. Matty has never quite fit in and for the most part he's fine with that...in fact, he expects the strange looks, but he's surprised by many people in Montana.
The book actually covers a huge amount of time and I found it more realistic because of that. It definitely isn't all smooth sailing for these guys and while that proves heartbreaking to read, it made it such a good book.
The book is truly all about Matty since it's told from his point of view. He should have won the gold medal, but instead sabotaged himself and ended up 9th. His humiliation was on the international stage and he's vowed to come back from that. He's incredibly strict about his lover, figure skating, although skating certainly doesn't treat him with love. My heart was so torn for him and the possibility of romance and a long-lasting relationship with Rob.
I liked the side-story with Ben, Rob's son, and Matty with his interesting way of coaching him in his figure-skating. I loved Ben's character and his comedic quips about Rob's sexuality. I can't tell you how many times I burst out laughing when Ben was on the page. There were also some great moments with the ranch hands. I liked how Rob has spent his life out in this little community because it created some interesting viewpoints and opinions about his and Matty.
This world in Montana is so completely different for Matty, but for the six months that he's there, it works for him. He's not a guy who fits in...anywhere, but he finds and creates a home for himself in this little community and in Rob's life and I loved that for him. For a short period of time he finds out what it means to be accepted purely for who he is, not for what he can do with his athletic talents. I found it extremely heartwarming.
The book is broken into three parts and so much about part three hurt my heart, but it was true and believable and so well told. I truly loved this book and the story it told.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.