Monday, February 2, 2015

{Happy Release Day + Romance Review} Pairing Off (Red Hot Russians) by Elizabeth Harmon

Pairing Off
A scandal-plagued American figure skater's last chance at gold means pairing up with Russia's sexiest male skater...who happens to be the first man she ever loved.

"The Cutting Edge" with a Russian twist.

American pairs figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in America, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is reunited with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to see her again…never mind skate with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real between them, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country, and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?

Red Hot Russians, Book #1
(Blurb via Goodreads)
{Details} ebook. Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by Carina Press. Source: ebook provided in exchange for an honest review

{Rating} 4/5 - I really liked it!

"They spilled out of the Mellow Yellow, loud and laughing." (page 1, line 1)
Anton and Carrie's story begins in Amsterdam, they're both teenagers, young athletes at a party, sharing neither language nor their names, but sparking a connection. They're brought back together years later when both Anton and Carrie have been treated abominably by their skating partners, by switching partners and with a scandal that destroys Carrie's career as an American skater respectively. They both have a second chance to achieve their dreams though by working together. Their journey is rocky as they struggle to build trust, a relationship on the ice, to perfect their programs.

Anton is strong, generous, loving - a little too loving when it comes to his ex-partner/current girlfriend, the vile Olga, but it shows how deeply he cares and how he sticks by his commitments. Carrie is dedicated, kind and gentle, haunted, and both brave and timid. She was brave to leave her country, to travel halfway across the globe to a country where she didn't know the language, culture and knew no one. But she also allows her father to control her life, to keep his secrets, to endure his condemnation. I liked watching her evolution over the story. Trust and honesty don't come easy to her and she has to work through her past if she wants any chance of happiness with Anton.

I loved Anton and Carrie together as friends - they're generous with their time and their support - and especially as romantic partners. They're a lot alike. Both fiercely loyal, both hold on too tight to relationships that cause them pain, but once they realize that they deserve better both are willing to fight for what they want. They face many obstacles to a life together - their nationalities, her family, her secrets - and someone is going to have to make a sacrifice.

Moscow was almost another character. Following Carrie around Moscow, seeing Red Square, churches and many other sights, I found myself Googling pictures so I could see what she did. I look forward to reading more by Elizabeth Harmon and see what she has in store next in the Red Hot Russians series.

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