LIFE ON THE EDGE
Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream –
To be the first American team to win Olympic gold.
Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.
Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games.
But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily’s dreams of gold.
Even as a small child Jennifer loved writing and had long cherished a dream, of one day seeing her name in print.
Dreams however, are often dictated by the practicalities of life and Jennifer compromised by earning a Master of Accounting from Tulane University and becoming a Certified Public Accountant in South Louisiana, working as a corporate tax manager for a Fortune 100 company.
While at Tulane, she wrote for the school newspaper and whilst seeing her name in a by-line was great, she still dreamed of writing a novel and having it published, which she finally did after some encouragement from friends and family.
Jennifer has always been passionate about figure skating and follows the sport closely, although she has only ever stepped onto an ice rink once. When not working, she can often be found travelling widely to attend figure skating events and competitions, always with her camera to hand.
It was this passion and its experiences, which gave her the idea of a storyline for her first novel and after much writing and re-writing, Life on the Edge became her first published book.
‘Romance On The Edge’
I have to say right from the start that books, be they fiction or non-fiction, about sport, are not generally my cup of tea, although I am a big fan of figure skating and ice dancing, purely as an armchair critic!
When I discovered that the author Jennifer Comeaux was a big fan of figure skating, I did wonder if her enthusiasm for the sport would overshadow any romantic storyline that was to run alongside and intertwine with it.
I quickly realised however, that Jennifer’s obvious passion and enthusiasm for figure skating, only served to enhance the storyline, giving it an authenticity and reality, which it may otherwise have lacked. The vivid and informative descriptions of both ice skating competitions, practice and coaching sessions and the inherent rivalry between competitors and indeed coaches, was detailed and thorough. More than enough to make me feel that I was ringside, eavesdropping on the various conversations, without being overdosed on facts and figures about the performances and competitors, other than those which I needed to know to ensure continuity of the storyline.
There was a great balance between character analysis, plot development and information background, enough to ensure the most discerning reader of a well-rounded and interesting storyline, without getting bogged down with too many technicalities.
Jennifer takes you behind the scenes to let the readers feel the aura of nerves, excitement, disappointment, elation, and triumph, in both Emily and Sergei’s professional and personal lives, in a way which captivates and enthrals.
Alongside this, the unfolding romance between coach and protege, is poignant, naive and almost simplistic in its intensity and power to move the reader. Much is to happen to the young couple before they are fully united and free to declare their love and there are several unexpected twists and turns to the plot, that left me wondering just how much more they could take, before the strain was just too much.
In Emily we are introduced to a very young, up and coming star in the figure skating world, who has recently been persuaded by her coach, that a move into the doubles competitions would be advantageous for her, so long as the right and compatible partner can be found. Emily is quite an immature and star-struck teenager, struggling to overcome her competition nerves, in order to find the breakthrough that her coach, family and friends, believe is just around the corner. For Emily, the single most thought on her mind, is winning Olympic gold for her country and she is unable to contemplate achieving anything less, which only serves to increase the pressure she constantly places herself under. The pressure from her parents, who have sacrificed much in order to help their daughter achieve her dreams, is subtle yet ever-present. The constant driving force of her coach, whilst really helping to focus her, is also a constant worry to Emily, lest she falter and destory his faith in her. The encouragement she has received from Chris, her new found pairs partner, is immeasurable and the fact that both of the youngsters have adopted an almost brother/sister relationship, ensures that any tension is tempered with some light-hearted banter and support, without the added complications of an impending relationship. Emily is therefore rather ill-prepared for the relationship which develops at an alarming rate, between herself and Sergei and we start to see all the elements of teenage feelings begin to emerge, as this unknown force is unleashed upon her, which she seems powerless to fight. She does manage to muster her thoughts together enough to be forceful with Sergei over certain aspects of their relationship, which demands his respect for her feelings and youth and what at first appears to be an infatuation for an older man, soon blossoms into something deep and meaningful, with Emily being allowed to move things along at her own pace, without recourse.
Chris seems to have been a little overlooked at times, with his feelings being almost ignored when Sergei and Emily begin their relationship without his knowledge, leaving him to wonder at the changes in Emily’s temperament and concentration, which could so easily endanger his life, with the precision and skill which the sport of ice skating demands. Chris is left to find out about the relationship inadvertently, which makes him feel even more hurt and ostracised. His usual dedication, nurturing, supportive and conscientious qualities, temporarily desert him, leaving him careless, vulnerable and ultimately in danger. He is eventually reconciled with both Emily and Sergei and proves himself to be a true friend to them both when the chips are down and the situation almost fatal to his own career.
Sergei is quite a young coach, who was once a competitor himself, although his career appears to have ended in rather strange circumstances. He is generally a cool, calm and collected customer, focused on his career and keeping his private life strictly separate. He is totally unprepared for the emotional somersaults that his emotions are put through, when he realises that against all the rules and etiquette, he has deep and intense feelings for his young protege. Although he knows that as the older and more mature person in the relationship, he should set an example and keep Emily at arm’s length, he is unable to contemplate this possibility and allows the situation to develop until it is almost beyond his control to stop.
Both plot and characters develop and mature together, in this debut novel, written with great maturity and confidence, which will appeal not only to its intended YA audience, but which will also sit comfortably with a wider adult audience, who enjoy innocent tender romances, without any explicitness or eroticism.
A great stand alone novel in its own right, although Jennifer is currently working on the manuscript for her next adventure featuring Emily and Sergei, called Edge Of The Past.
As this was an author invitation to read and review, a download of Life on the Edge was sent to me free of charge, by its author, Jennifer Comeaux.
This will in no way influence any comments I may express about the book, in any blog article I may post. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 4 out of 5.