Dana reviews Training Season (Training Season book 1) by Leta Blake. (Audio book released June 1, 2017. 12 hrs 12 mins length. Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo – ebook published December, 3. 2013, 288 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
A Montanan rancher and a flamboyant figure skater find lust, then love, but can they find a life together?
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 contains BDSM elements.
The narration: There are quite a few good narrators in the m/m romance genre and it’s hard to create a favorite list, but Michael Ferraiuolo is up there in my preferred narrators. He is good at creating characters with strong voices and also ones with a slight lilt and softer tone. It was perfect for the effeminate character Matty and the rugged rancher Rob. I would definitely say his narration adds to the story and I’m glad I listened to it.
The story: I have only read a few books by this author in the past, but I’m going to have to start reading a lot more. The story starts with Matty taking a job that pays enough to fund his figure skating passion and his determination to reach the Olympics. The couple whose house he watches over demand that he entertain guests while he stays there, but it isn’t long before he meets the neighbor who turns Matty on, but doesn’t ping his gaydar at all. After he realizes his mistake, he begins a friends with benefits kind of situation even though he knows that Rob could possibly distract him from his goals, and possibly become someone important to him.
Matty’s time at the ranch is temporary, though. The bulk of the story takes place in Montana at the farm/ranch. I loved seeing their relationship develop and I felt like the two men really brought out the best in one another. Matty gave Rob joy in his daily life, he tutored Rob’s son in figure skating, and made them both sweet treats, Rob gave Matty his care and concern. He supported his goals to return to Figure Skating even knowing it would mean the end to their time together. I was a little heart broken about what had to take place because I could really empathize with Matty. He couldn’t give up his dream, but his casual arrangement had definitely become more. Rob also gives Matty the discipline and dominance he needs. There is some BDSM in this book but not the sort that has clubs or contracts, but safewords are in place and their play together is kink-filled and hot. Alas, Matty does finally make his move when the couple who own the house return.
The part of the book after Matty left is interesting. It is neat to get this view of his talent and his training. But Matty never has one hundred percent of his heart in the skating because Rob still owns part of it. It would easy to skim this part because it features a lot of longing on Matty’s part and not much satisfaction. The story takes a new turn when Matty sees Rob’s son, Ben, far away from their home in Montana. Ben admits that a lot of things have changed in their lives, but he is closed lipped about exactly what has changed for Rob. As Matty’s heart sank, so did mine. I felt the fear that the two wouldn’t be together, even though they had been apart years, I was rooting for them. I don’t want to give anything away, but I thought the author created a very nice ending. I do look forward to reading or listening to the next book in the series if it comes out on audio.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.
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