Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux
Publisher: Astraea Press (January 3, 2012)
Format: Kindle Edition
So, do any of you remember the fabulously talented Tom Selleck (I hear he’s in a new TV series which may or may not have revived his flailing acting career but since I don’t have TV, it’s a crap shoot either way). Well, in 1989 he released a hilarious film called Her Alibi where he plays a mystery novelist who provides an alibi for a mysterious Romanian woman accused of murder. Long story short, she moves into his ridiculously large home and over breakfast one morning he asks her what she thinks of his books. Here’s the resulting dialogue (paraphrased by me):
Tom Selleck: You read one of my books last night? Really?
Mysterious Woman (as portrayed by Paulina Porizkova): Yes, I did.
Tom Selleck: What did you think?
Mysterious Woman: I found it to be very…pro…
Tom Selleck: Profound?
Mysterious Woman: No, no, no. It is not Pro, it is per…
Tom Selleck: Perceptive? Perfect?
Mysterious Woman: No, no. Wait. It is…predictable! Yes, predictable.
Now I mention this only because a) this scene is hilarious no matter what IMDB reviewers claim and I needed a laugh and b) it succinctly sums up what I’m about to review.
Plot: What figure skater Emily lacks most is confidence and even though she’s now paired up with an uber-confident partner after years of trying to skate solo, she still finds herself losing her edge. Her coach, Sergei, thinks she and her partner, Chris, have what it takes to make it to the Olympics however and he tries to booster her confidence by allowing her to coach a younger pair alongside him. All that constant contact helps create a bond between Sergei and Emily which eventually develops into something more. Relationships between coaches and skaters are taboo and the two have to hide their feelings even as things become serious. After they win Nationals and are thrust into the Olympic spotlight, another Russian coach brings major trouble for Emily, her partner, and Sergei both on the ice and off. With the Olympics in full swing and Emily ready to do anything to win and keep Sergei, we’re left wondering if she and Chris will go for the gold and if Emily’s relationship is strong enough to withstand some serious accusations.
Review: Let me preface this review with a hearty “I liked this book”. I did, I really did but Mysterious Woman from Her Alibi said it best: It was not pro it was pre…dictable! And also a little too straight laced for my tastes. Emily is one of those characters that is kind of ho-hum. She doesn’t really have much of a personality beyond seeming like she knows what she wants and even though she goes for it time and again, she really doesn’t know what she wants and the fact that she gets everything she sets her mind to so easily is a bore! You know the type, right? She’s the straight laced character that is normally relegated to the “friend” position in most books but here she is front and center and the action lacks a bit from the fact that she’s so…blah. And then there’s Sergei, the hot, young coach who fights his feelings for her but finally can’t stay away but totally accepts the
fact that she’s saving herself for marriage. Now I applaud this in theory, but I read books to escape, people! Not to have good morals thrust into my face! So it’s no surprise based on what I wrote above that Emily wants to wait to do the deed that Sergei doesn’t like it but resigns himself to waiting and never pushes her again. Gah! That so would never happen. Annoying character traits aside, the description of the skating competitions is extremely fascinating for a layman and the fact that there’s isn’t an unstoppable, meteoric rise to fame gives the book a bit of plausibility it otherwise would lack. The ending is so cookie cutter that I found myself rolling my eyes and while I’m happy for all the people involved, I wish something bad would have happened to make me feel more for the characters. As it stands, the whole plot is just really, really easy to guess. That’s not to say the writing is bad because frankly, Jennifer Comeaux writes a good story here. Her dialogue is awesome; the tension between Sergei and Emily starts off so promisingly; and there’s a lot of exciting competition speak that made me nervous while uplifting me. It’s just that her subject matter needed more heartache and heartbreak to make it believable.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 7. Em, I liked you, girl. You had the potential to be such a gritty, raw character. I wanted you to be spunky and willing to do what it takes to get that medal but in the end you seemed to care more about your relationship with Sergei than winning. That’s well and good but it didn’t hold my interest as well as if you were a broken skater trying to do better a la The Cutting Edge.
How much did I like the love interest: 9. Sergei was awesome: willing to love whole-heartedly, blond, blue eyed, accented, sexy. He was the dream coach I wish I had had in high school instead of the butch volleyball coach with iron-grey hair. He was constantly motivating, constantly doing whatever it took to make Emily into a better skater. Props to him for being able to differentiate between Coach Sergei and Boyfriend Sergei cause that’s a hard line to walk.
How believable is the plot: 8. Admittedly, I know nothing about ice skating. The plot seemed as believable as a soap-opera-ish ice skating plot can and I thought all the technical ice skating bits made it much more believable than it could have been. In the end, we can all agree that men and women thrust together for interminable amounts of time under stressful situations will result in some sort of sparks. Here it just happens earlier rather than later.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 6. Jennifer writes very well but her subject matter forced me to deduct points. Grammar is good, dialogue is great, and the action builds in momentum til there’s only one inevitable outcome.
How much did I want to keep reading: 5. Ehh…when a book is predictable you want to keep reading so you can be sure that you didn’t guess incorrectly so in that sense I wanted to keep reading. But in that fixated, “I can’t wait to finish this to see what happens to X” sort of way, it was sadly lacking.
Final Score: 7/10. In the end, the fact that I knew what would happen and there weren’t any surprises really forced the numbers here. This is a solid read but so predictable that you probably figure it before you’re 25% through. Read it for the good writing not for the exceptional plot.