Reviewed by Christine
TITLE: Training Season
SERIES: Training Season #1
AUTHOR: Leta Blake
NARRATOR: Michael Ferraiuolo
LENGTH: 12 hrs 12 mins
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2017
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.
When out and proud figure skater Matty takes a house-sitting job in Montana to save up for the training season ahead, he gets more than he bargained for in hunky and handsome Rob, a neighboring rancher. What develops is a hot and heavy relationship, complete with BDSM components, and before long Matty has to face the inevitable: leaving Rob behind while he pursues his Olympic dream.
Figure skating, a Montana rancher, and BDSM? Sign me up! Training Season turned out to be a quite a treat, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching opposites attract in this story. The gorgeous cover didn’t hurt, either!
As the relationship between Matty and Rob develops, the growth Matty makes and the trust he gains in Rob and their bond is both exciting and satisfying. Matty’s character is interesting and captivating. Not as flamboyant as I expected from the blurb, he is more confused and lacking in confidence and self-worth than anything else. His relationship with Rob and Rob’s son Ben provide him with opportunities to reach beyond himself, and I liked watching him navigate this newness.
Rob’s character is lovable and endearing. He is strong yet vulnerable, and the reader can feel his genuine attraction and connection with Matty. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and his honesty and deference to Matty’s goals as a skater is commendable and heartwarming. Additionally, his role in helping Matty develop more confidence and self-control is particularly touching. Since the narrative is told exclusively from Matty’s third-person point of view, I wanted more of Rob. I think further explanations to Matty about his desire for BDSM in the relationship and his true feelings about ranching would have helped me to get into his head a bit more and to understand his decisions and actions later in the story.
Yes, there are definitely BDSM elements in the story, varying in intensity and purpose. They range from subtle to raw, and Matty’s reaction to them is enthralling and genuine. This isn’t a BDSM relationship with contracts and negotiation; rather, it is a romantic relationship in which these aspects are introduced slowly and as needed at Rob’s discretion. The reader needs to suspend what they normally expect in typical, pre-determined power play scenes. I think it works just fine here and didn’t have issues with the incorporation of non-negotiated activities during the sex scenes as part of pushing Matty’s emotional boundaries.
The narration of this audiobook was good overall. Though I found his performance of the female voices a bit off-putting, Michael Ferraiuolo’s reading of the other characters was very well done, as was the general story-telling.
I truly enjoyed Training Season and have already downloaded the ebook version of the second installment in the series. I also look forward to reading more of Leta Blake’s work in the future.