Thursday, August 11, 2016

BLOG TOUR, 4 1/2 STAR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Blind Landing (Flipped #1) by Carrie Aarons

  

 
Fear stops dreams in their tracks before they even have a chance. Then again, so do injuries. 

Natalia Grekov was born to win Olympic gold. As the USA’s top gymnast, she’s calm, confident and ready to make her country proud in just two short months. And her elite athlete lifestyle includes no time for distractions—especially men. When a disastrous fall in practice puts her dreams at risk, it seems the only person who can help her is the one person she wants nothing from. 

Spencer Russell is gymnastics’ bad boy. A cocky, laid-back charmer with abs of steel and a witty mouth, he waltzes around the U.S. Gymnastics Training Camp like he owns the place—even though he doesn't anymore. After an injury sidelined his career and any chance at Olympic glory, he’s now just a coach, helping other gymnasts reach their goals. Serious is not a word in Spencer’s vocabulary. But when Natalia tumbles into his life, he's suddenly sincerely interested in helping the blonde beauty in any way he can. 

Can they vault over the obstacles standing in their way? Or will Spencer be the distraction that causes Natalia's chance at gold to crash and burn?

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My Review

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

So I love the Olympics. I can become that person who is like "Yeah, sorry I am late...I was watching beach volleyball." So give me a romance book about Olympians and chances are I will read it. Then add in a little forbidden relationship between a gymnast and her coach and I am going to devour that book, which is what happened with Blind Landing. 


All Nat has ever wanted is to represent her country at the Olympics. She has sacrificed her childhood, as well as being with her family, in order to achieve her dream. But when she suffers an accident at practice, the fear, which is probably the worst thing a gymnast can get, sets in. She knows that if she is going to make it to the Olympics, she needs to get over that fear. And if anyone finds about what is happening, she can kiss her Olympic dreams goodbye, so she starts getting up extra early to sneak into one the gyms to work things out.

After suffering a career ending injury, Spencer has transitioned into a coach. He enjoys his new role and is really good at it. While he doesn't really know Nat, he knows of her and is intrigued by her. They have a few run ins both in and out of practice and the seeds of their relationship are planted. 

When Spence notices that something is off with Nat, he questions her and then offers to help: 
“You’re afraid. What happened? I know what fear looks like, Nat. We’ve all seen what havoc it can wreak.”
She sighs; someone coming out of the gym jars us both. But they can’t see us, the two girls paths solely focused on running to whatever workout, gym or training session they have next.
“I fell on my neck.” Nat whispers, turning her head to the side and averting those big blue eyes from mine. Even without her gorgeous features trained on me, I can feel the fear radiating off of her body.
“When? How? I can’t help you if you don’t tell me.” My heart aches for her.
I know about fear. You don’t throw your body into flips and dangerous stunts without coming down with fear every so often. Most gymnasts naturally get it once in awhile. Like the flu. It throws off your whole damn system. But with treatment, it can be eradicated.
“About a month and a half ago at my home gym. I was just going through a beam routine set, it was just one in the ten I had to do that day at practice. I was about halfway through, resting on my laurels and throwing my skills like I could do them in my sleep. I let my guard down; I wasn’t tightening my body enough. I went into it, and my foot slipped somewhere along the way. The next thing I knew, I was laying on the mat with my neck bent backwards. I didn’t hear a snap or a crack, but I wasn’t allowed to move until the trainer came in ten minutes later. For ten minutes, all I could think was: Can you feel your fingers? Can you feel your toes? Am I ever going to do gymnastics again?”
I wipe my hand over my face, empathy flowing through me. We may not be motorcycle racers or football players, but I bet I’ve seen more bones poking through the skin than they have. I bet I’ve seen more emergency room visits, fractured spines, premature arthritis and life-altering injuries.
“I get it, Nat. I do. But you’re fine now. You’re here, on your way to the Olympics. Don’t let the fear control you.”It’s a stupid response, I know because of course you can’t just take the advice to get over your fears. Poof! Someone else says it and you’re not afraid. It doesn’t work like that.
Those dark aqua orbs, the color of clear blue waters off Bermuda or Aruba find mine. Nat is gripping her honey blond hair tightly. “You don’t understand. I don’t get scared. I’ve never been afraid of anything in this sport. Not for sixteen whole years.”
My stomach drops as I stare at the vulnerable woman in front of me. She’s a gymnastics unicorn. Fear has never been in her vocabulary. She’s one of the rare of us who can throw skills way outside of her skill range without so much as a thought.
“That’s why this is so bad …” I trail off, connecting the dots.
Nat nods. “I have no idea how to control this, because I’ve never been afraid of doing anything. Spence, I stand at the end of that beam and my body won’t let me move. I’m a prisoner in my own skin. I don’t know what to do.”
There is so much pain in her eyes that I feel a twinge deep down in my own gut.
“I’m going to help you. You’ll get over this, Nat, and I’ll help you. You deserve this, you deserve to go to the Olympics. You’re the best female gymnast this country has seen in decades. We’re going to fix this.”
She nods at me, and I see it in her eyes. The admiration, the hope that I will be able to solve all of her problems. And the word that is ringing in my head.
Together.
The thing I loved about Spence was that he never judged Nat. He just understood and had absolutely no qualms about helping her. And that was exactly what she needed. She didn't need anyone yelling at her or tearing her down. She just needed the support that Spence was more than willing to give. Their relationship starts off as friendly with a little flirting here and there (aka "friends who flirt"), but it quickly turns into so much more. 

I absolutely loved Spence and Nat's relationship. They both had the utmost respect for each other and there were these moments where they both found themselves in awe of the other person. Spence because he saw such greatness in Nat and Nat because Spence just owned the person he had become. After getting injured he could have easily given up gymnastics or became bitter athlete who never achieved his dreams, but he is not that person. 


The road to gold and happily ever after is not a smooth one, but it was such a great ride. The book gives you a glimpse into what gymnasts have to go through to achieve their dreams. It's hard work that can seem almost impossible to do at times. Thankfully Nat has awesome teammates and they are to support each other through thick and thin. There is also some fantastic sexy times that has now made me look at a particular gymnastic apparatus in a whole new light.  ;-) 

I can't wait for the rest of the series. I am crossing my fingers that one of my favorite secondary characters, Rourke, will get his own book. He is one those coaches that everybody loves, is described as a DILF AND he is a single dad. Sign. Me. Up. And there a few moments that allude to some of the other athletes having a history and they definitely piqued my interest. 





About Carrie Aarons 

Author of romance novels such as Red Card and the Captive Heart Duet, Carrie Aarons writes sexy, swoony and sarcastic characters who won't get out of her head until she puts them down on a page.

Carrie has wanted to be an author since the first time she opened a book. She loves spinning tales that include dapper men, women with attitude, and the occasional hunky athlete.

When she isn't in what her husband calls a "writing coma", Carrie is freeing up her jam-packed DVR, starting her latest DIY project, or planning her next travel adventure. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, who is more than happy to watch sports while his wife plots love stories.



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