Buckle up – Matty’s back!
Figure skater Matty Marcus didn’t capture Olympic gold, but he won rancher Rob Lovely’s heart.
After Rob sold his ranch and Matty hung up his skates, they started a new life together in New York City. Now Matty has taken on a fresh challenge as a figure skating coach, and Rob’s second career as a physical therapist should be everything he’s dreamed of. But in the brutal heat of their third summer in the city, Rob yearns for the wide-open country, and the intensity of city life awakens Matty’s demons.
Matty asks for increasingly intense BDSM scenes, and his disordered eating and erratic behavior ramp up the stakes. Rob struggles to stay in control, and after a well-intentioned anniversary gift goes awry, he still thinks he can handle the fallout. But the concrete jungle is closing in and his coping skills are unraveling.
This is book two and should be read in order just so you understand the background.
Rob and Matty have settled into a comfortable relationship and life. Or so they thought, until Rob finds that Matty is not dealing with the Federation and retirement from Ice skating and now coaching as well as he let on. Rob knows exactly how to get Matty back under control.
I really enjoyed how we get to continue to see these two grow in life, career’s and relationships three years on. It made me giggle the way Matty still has issues and acted bratty and then needs reining in. Which was also very entertaining. How we brought over the BDSM from the first book. But not as a life style, more as a therapy tool.
The way that we got to really look into this couple, and the real life issues they go through. Money, work, weight, one living in an area that he doesn’t care for just to make the other happy, etc. The up and down but always knowing at the end of the day, they they have each other. And of course the perfect HEA at the end.
I need to start off this review off by saying that Leta Blake is one of my favorite MM authors and Training Season is in the top 5 of my all-time favorite MM books. I’ve loved everything she’s ever written, including this well-written, ultimately beautiful story – but it was a difficult read for me overall. Be prepared for a boatload of angst that you didn’t even realize was possible to stuff into one book. I started to skim about a quarter of the way in (I can’t believe I did that – this is the first time I’ve ever skimmed through a book with characters I adore and a writer as talented as Ms. Blake) because I didn’t think I could take the crushing heartbreak and stress of what Rob and Matty were going through any longer. I needed to know if I was going to be compelled to destroy my kindle at the end.
The story begins three years after Rob and Matty’s HEA in New York City. The beginning of the book was a perfect set-up to what a couple who’s settled into day to day life would be like. They’re still madly in love (thank heavens – if I hadn’t had the brief intro, I doubt I could’ve held onto the thin thread of hope I had for them), and on the surface,they have a great sex life and are happy. Well, maybe not that happy.
Matty’s demons from Olympic failure resurface with a vengeance which is expressed in really bad behavior toward my angel, Rob – and Rob tiptoes on eggshells around Matty which ends up making me want to bitch slap both of them at the same time throughout a good portion of this book. Even when Rob gets angry at Matty, he backs down quickly as if he’s afraid to drive Matty away. Meanwhile, Matty is terrified at every turn that Rob is going to leave him (this happened so much, it was giving me a stomach ache) yet keeps treating him like a pile of doo-doo.
I don’t mind angst in my books, I really don’t. In Training Season it was done with the perfect touch, because for three quarters of that book, you had the sweet build of their growing romance. Even when there were clashes, there was the ebb and flow that allowed the reader to grow with them. When the true angst of that book occurred, I was ready to ride the wave – as stressful as it was – to get to what I was sure would be an epic HEA, and I was right.
For most of this book, right from the beginning, I was filled with stress and a deep sadness over my beloved Matty and Rob’s relationship. Hence, the skimming. I had to know how it would turn out or I was going to come unglued. In defense of the theme of this book, it was an obviously well-researched and thoughtful glimpse into mental illness, which I appreciated, but not as a romance reader. I did enjoy the inclusion of more of the BDSM aspect that was introduced in the first book and a look into Rob’s past association with dungeons. But I was a little squirmy over the inference that BDSM is a good alternative for professional therapy.
All that being said, I’m glad I read it. As always, the sex scenes are both hot and tender and Ms. Blake writes them with a magical flourish. Ultimately, there’s a wonderful pay off and HEA in this book, even if it nearly killed me to get there. I just wish the journey hadn’t been so fraught with despair and had taken about half as long. If you have mad love for Rob and Matty, you’ll definitely want to read this, but be prepared.