Welcome to the Snow and Ice Games where competition is not the only thing that is heating up! The fifth book in bestselling Tamsen Parker's romance series concludes with a pairs figure skating couple sharing the ice... and close quarters.
At the last Snow and Ice Games, Jubilee Buford and her husband and partner Stephen Wallace were on top of the pairs figure skating world. The newlyweds won gold and their future looked bright. But just months after she thought her world couldn’t get any more perfect, Jubilee lost everything. After a scrapped attempt at a solo career, her coach found her a new partner and new possibilities in Beckett Hughes.
Beckett’s had a hard time finding a partner to compete with. Someone who’s as aggressive as he is, someone who’s given up as much of their life as he has for success. He finally found a fit with Jubilee two years ago. She’s not much fun to skate with, but Beckett doesn’t need fun; he needs precision and effort and there Jubilee delivers.
When a housing mix-up in the Snow and Ice village forces them to room with each other, they’re suddenly compelled to recognize each other’s human side. And as Jubilee and Beckett start to see each other as people instead of robots on skates, they discover that they’ve got chemistry between the sheets as well as on the ice. But the flames between them in the bedroom might melt any chance they have at medaling, and that outcome is not acceptable to either one, or the country that’s counting on them to bring home the gold and the glory.
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These are not the nicest accommodations I've ever had. To be fair, last time I was at the Snow and Ice Games, Stephen and I stayed at a hotel outside the village. No dorm rooms they attempt to dress up by calling them suites for us, but a cozy hotel room that felt far away from the hubbub even though it was close to the center of the action. We rationalized the astronomical expense because we didn't get to take a honeymoon. Sapporo was it, in more ways than one.
I blink back the tears that well up at the thought. If I'm going to get all weepy every time something here reminds of Stephen, it's going to be a long damn month. At least I've got this suite to myself and don't have to have one of the other girls mother-hen clucking at me, or Sabrina shooting eye daggers of death in my direction while I try not to lose my goddamn mind. Nor do I have to worry about waking them up with my bad dreams. Those had all but vanished a year ago, but I've started having them more often since we've been getting closer to the SIGs. Makes sense, in a really unfortunate way, but it doesn't matter. Dreams or no dreams, I'll compete.
Skating. That's what I'm here for. Skating with Beckett.
I haul my suitcase up onto my bed and start laying my things away in the dresser drawers. Beckett is almost my ideal partner. Tall, strong, well-muscled, and attractive enough, he looks quite dashing on the ice. Also, he works his ass off, and doesn't want to be friends with me. Perfect. Because I don't want to be friends with anyone.
Those men Daphne had paraded in front of me, after I had recovered from the injuries I got during my last practice with Stephen, and then tried to go solo and failed miserably — those men were the worst. With some of the men who showed up at my practice rink, it was clear why they didn't have partners of my caliber already. It was because they sucked. Others wanted to Oh, honey me on and off the rink, and that was not happening. Then there was that slimy, turd-faced, sorry excuse for a person, Todd Everhardt. Good athlete, but had clearly been more interested in getting into my leotards than into the SIGs, which was gross. Yes, Stephen had been gone for almost two years by then, but that wasn't the point. There was no freaking way I was going to fill the gaping hole he'd left in my life with a dipshit like Todd.
And because pairs figure skating is a really fucking small world, we ended up playing a bit of musical partners. Sabrina Lemay and Beckett had split up after not qualifying for the last SIGs and he bounced around a bit before settling with me. I don't know what Sabrina was thinking, because Beckett would be a great partner for basically anyone. But there will be no take-backsies, because Beckett is mine. And now Sabrina and Todd are skating together.
I've heard less than flattering things about her, though never from Beckett, and regardless, that could not be less my problem. Sabrina and I know each other, used to be cordial when we would see each other, but now she looks at me like she wishes something heavy would fall on my head. She was never a favorite of mine, but it's not my fault she was stupid enough to let Beckett go. Can't blame a girl for snapping up what she discarded and then making damn good use of it. Him. Beckett and I earned the first berth here, and Sabrina and Todd barely made it. They've been ass-kissing the press since they got on the roster like they're the favorites. Whatever, guys. If that's what you need to tell yourselves.
I give an angry shove to the top drawer where I've tucked my socks and underthings, narrowly avoiding slamming my finger in it, and wouldn't that be great. The show must go on and all that, but it's going to be hard enough getting through our programs without a broken finger.
I'm grateful Daphne found me Beckett. Though I'd never say it to his face, because I basically avoid saying anything to him that isn't strictly necessary, he's good. Very good. He allows me to be the best skater I can be, and he stays in his goddamn lane: skating and nothing else.
The SIG village. After failing to qualify last time around with Sabrina, I thought I might never get to see the inside of this place. Not that the buildings themselves are special, but there's a magic in the air that you can only find at the SIGs. A humming of energy I could well have never gotten to experience, and a warping of time and space that everyone who's been here before talks about. It's like summer camp for grownups, except we're all top-notch athletes competing in the biggest events of our lives, and it's cold. Other than that, I have to think they're similar. The SIG snow globe, they call it. And I've heard that after the events are over, whatever happens in the snow globe stays in the snow globe. I can't freaking wait.
Skating comes first though, so here I am. Finally. Thanks in no small part to Jubilation Lee Buford. Her name's a little ill-fitting, since I've hardly ever seen her crack a smile anywhere but on the ice and that's purely for show, but what the fuck do I care if her parents had a hard-on for her being a beauty queen or something? She ended up the baddestass pairs skater I know. So I'll call her whatever she wants, including Jubilee.
The village is at once exactly what I expected and totally different. There are tons of people milling around, including a multitude of the fairer sex, and goddamn are they fair. More like hot as hell — hello there, Ms. Finland — and could snap most men like a twig — looking at you, Lady South Korea who I think is a speed skater. And a lot of them will be looking to get lucky by the end of the month. I can help you with that, ladies. Beckett Hughes, at your service.
Some people don't fuck until after their events, which I get, but I am not one of those people. No, man. With this many fine specimens crammed into just a few square miles and being a monk the rest of the time because there's no other woman in my life these days except Jubilee, I am so ready to get laid.
Some people fuck their partners, but I learned the hard way that's not a good idea. If I thought Sabrina had felt like she owned me before we started sleeping together — because she financed most of our training, which is pretty common in pairs because dudes are at a premium — she got even worse after we started being partners in the sack as well as out of it. Until we didn't make the SIGs last time around, which she decided was my fault, and then she kicked me to the curb like I was useless.
Even if I had time outside the relentless training schedule Jubilee sets for us, I haven't had much luck with women outside of the rink, either. Just a different set of problems. Jealousy over how much time I spent with my partner and how much money I spend on equipment and training and travel to competitions, expressed as questions about when I was going to get a real job and start a family, or, my very favorite, questioning my sexuality because of what I do for a living. That had been Felicia's M.O. when we were together. Yeah, a lot of the guys in figure skating are into dudes, and that's cool. It doesn't bother me when people assume I am. What ticked me off was mostly that she meant it as an insult.
So many reasons to stick to casual but safe sex. So, so many.
As I stroll through the village with my duffel bag over my shoulder, I take it all in. By all, I mean mostly the ladies because I've finally got a chance for some no-strings-attached sex, but yeah, some other stuff too. The accommodations that look like big ski lodges, the huge dining hall, a massive gym because they know we're all going to work out. A lot of the teams have private gyms, but not all, and this one's open 24/7. You know, for those times at 3A.M. when you just really need to lift.
The mountains around here, though, those I could get used to. Not like the Sierra Nevada of home, and not like the molehills they think are mountains in Boston where I've spent the past few years with Jubilee. It's pretty here, but goddamn the air is thin. Good thing we've got time to get adjusted. Not that I'm winded or anything, but no way would I be able to put in as hard a workout here as I would back east.
I find the lodge where I'll be staying and skip the elevator, going for the stairwell instead. I'm on the fifth floor, and my sneakers squeak on the cement as I jog up the stairs. The hallways and the exterior may be nice enough, but clearly they don't expect anyone important to be going up these.
The corridor is surprisingly long, but I finally make it down to my room, which is a corner unit. Sweet. Hopefully more views of the mountains, though just as likely more views into other athletes' windows, which if they look anything like the sampling I walked past downstairs, that would also be fine. Maybe a little mutual peep show, eh?
I shove my keycard in the lock, and the light turns green. Won't lie, I could use a sit-down after that plane ride, especially since Jubilee's scheduled us out the ass between workouts, ice time, press junkets, and other nonsense. I just want to skate. Bring a medal home for my mantel. Be a champion. But she knows what she's doing, and it's not worth arguing with her. Not if I value my life. She's like an avalanche. No, that's not right. She's not that fast or that loud. Maybe more like a glacier. Slow and silent, but just as deadly. If you know what's good for you, you do not fuck with Jubilee Buford.
I'm shaking my head thinking about my frosty partner as I step over the threshold, and who should be standing there in the middle of the room, pulling her foot behind her until it's above her head, practicing her form for a Biellmann spin, but Miss Snowflake herself. What the actual fuck?
"What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing here?" Beckett's got that look on his face that makes me want to call him Captain Obvious. Damn good skater, but the brightest bulb in the box he's not.
"This is my room. See?" I gesture around to the things that make that perfectly obvious. My skates lined up in the corner, my costumes hanging in the closet, my lucky pillow on my bed, and my Kindle on the nightstand. Not like I'll actually have time to read, but sometimes glancing at a couple of pages helps me fall asleep at night. Gives me just enough of something else to focus on besides the stress of competition and missing Stephen like crazy.
I put my hands on my hips, daring Beckett to argue with me. He might be as much of a fusspot on the ice as I am, which is great. A driven, pedantic stickler? Yes, please. We're very well-matched in that regard, because even in a sport where everyone's a perfectionist, Beckett and I eat, sleep, and breathe flawlessness in a way that's too much for anyone else. On the ice, yes, but off the ice, he tends to be more flexible than I am. More naturally personable, carefree. We're for damn sure not on the ice now. This is my refuge from the competition, and from everything that reminds me so much of Stephen.
It's not that Denver is so similar to Sapporo, or really alike in any except the most basic ways that all SIG towns are, but god, it still feels like I have a ghost on my arm everywhere I go. Sometimes it's nice to have that voice whispering in my ear — it can be the only thing that gets me through the day or a really rough practice, but sometimes it just ... hurts.
And here's Beckett, looking around like he's never been in a girl's room before. I know that's not true because he has a good time with women when we're on the road. It makes me want to hide my more personal items nonetheless. I don't think he's been dating since he moved to Boston to skate with me, but he has a reputation as a ladies' man and I'm not any fucking lady. I'm his partner and I really don't need him seeing anything but my hard on-ice edges.
"Yeah, well, this is my room too. This is the room they assigned me. My keycard opened the door."
He waves a crumpled letter he's pulled from his duffel bag at me, and I don't want to touch that. Who the fuck knows where it's been. It does, however, have the distinctive SIG seal on it, and I can't deny that his keycard did, in fact, unlock the door. But fuck if he's staying here. I may be willing to cut a bitch who tries to snatch him away to skate with, but otherwise, the rest of the word can have him.
"Maybe it's the room they assigned you, but they're going to assign you a different one."
I try not to be a precious princess — can't be with the kind of bruises I get on the regular or the way I sweat every damn day — but occasionally my inner diva comes out, and this is going to be one of those times.
I am not going to be able to make it through this month without crying at least a few times, and Beckett doesn't need to know I have feelings. He also doesn't need to know about my fuzzy bunny slippers or my cutesy pajamas or my sleeping mask with the eyelashes on it. I don't know that they help keep the dreams of Stephen away, and I don't know that I'd want them to, but the whole fluffy, adorable package makes going to bed more appealing. Let me indulge in those silly, comforting things without being mocked by the man I have to be handled by eight hours a day. All he needs to know is that I can skate.
Before he can protest, I yank my cell out of my pocket and call our coach, Daphne. She'll fix this. She fixes everything.
Daphne doesn't even bother with a hello because she never does. Knows I won't either. "You finished feathering your nest?" "Yes, I am, and now I've got a cuckoo here."
"Hey, who are you calling a —"
I shush Beckett verbally and with a death stare, which makes his eyes pop wide.
"What do you mean a cuckoo? There's someone else there?"
I pace away from Beckett's open mouth. "Yes. Beckett is here with a working keycard and a letter that says this is his room. I don't know what the hell happened, and I don't care. Just get this fixed, Daphne. I don't give a shit how. I'll wait for your call."
It's times like these I'm sad that landlines aren't a thing anymore. A handset crashing into its cradle would've been so satisfying, and yet all I can do is press my screen hard. Not enough of an outlet for my displeasure, not at all. When I turn back to Beckett with my arms crossed, he's just staring.
"Did you just call me a cuckoo?"
"Yes, I did."
"Well that seems harsh." Oh, pouty Beckett. This is new. I wouldn't say I like it, but it is entertaining. He's like a puppy who didn't get a treat after performing its latest trick. With his curly, fluffy mop of blond hair, he'd be a goldendoodle or something. "You don't need to call me crazy and stupid. At least not to my face."
I roll my eyes because I can't even help it. Whoever Beckett's tutors were while he was coming up through the skating world did not do a good enough job. "I wasn't calling you crazy or stupid. I was calling you a parasite. Cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds' nests, and when their eggs hatch, the babies roll the nest owners' eggs out. Little bastards."
"I don't think a parasite is much better than stupid."
"It's not, but it's more accurate."
Beckett's blond brows scrunch in the middle, and I want to tell him to knock it off, because makeup can only hide creases that are so deep. Also, I've already expended more energy on this than I'd care to and I'm done. I'd like to get back to stretching. Maybe he could go hang out in one of the common lounges until this gets worked out? Or the gym? The village bar? Basically anywhere but here because I'd like some peace and quiet in which to get my emotionally fragile state under control.
"Anyway, don't bother unpacking. I'm sure Daphne will be calling back any minute to straighten this out. And there's no need for you —"
Looking me straight in the eye, Beckett drops his duffel in the middle of the floor and plops himself on the second bed.
"— to settle in." Fucker.
"Look, I've just spent a bunch of hours in transit. I wasn't flying first class like you, so it wasn't pleasant. All I want is to —"
"No. No. Beckett Donovan Hughes, I swear on all that is holy if you lie on that bed —"
Then he does it. Swings his long, powerful, denim-clad legs up onto the bed, and drops his curl-covered head back onto the pillows. And then has the nerve to sigh like he just kicked back on a lounge chair by a pool at some tropical resort. Oh hell no.
Excerpted from "On The Brink of Passion"
Copyright © 2018 Tamsen Parker.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 stars — Quite a few of the books in this series start off in such a strange manner wrt the romance…and this one was not an exception. I was initially super uncomfortable with the arrangement between Beckett and Jubilee. It was awkward, and not hot, and just…f*ed up. But here’s what’s funny. It was awkward and f*ed up to them too…and it really sort of opened up a completely different way of falling in love. I loved that they were both so stubborn that they got themselves into that situation. In the end I loved that it started off all awkward and wrong, because that made the transition that much more believable. I loved that Beckett tried to put a stop to it, and kind of forced Jubilee to make some confessions to herself. It was SO WEIRD, but it felt realistic in a weird way too. I just…can’t go into it further without spoilers. I had a HELLA hard time connecting with Jubilee. Which is not to say that I didn’t feel for her situation, and that I didn’t actually understand how her past had shaped her into who she was. But it was SO HARD to see her willingly hurting Beckett, and being willfully blind to him at the same time. I can get her and still not really like her. But the thing is, that I did like parts of her. I liked her vulnerable side, and how she tried to hide her squishiness from the world as protection. I loved her drive and determination, and her respect for Beck as her partner. I just don’t think I could be her friend…then again, I’m not sure I could be any professional athletes friend, b/c that requires a certain personality that’s probably not super compatible with my own. Beckett was much easier to love. He reminded me a bit of Blake Riley in his general personality and demeanor. He’s someone who is not shy about his own accomplishments, who’s super confident in his sexual capabilities (and rightfully so), but who has just this odd sunny demeanor that is hard not to love. I found it interesting that the author made him less book smart, but showed that that didn’t impact how successful he could be. I hurt for him and the kinds of discrimination he faced as a man in figure skating…I thought that was super interesting. But he didn’t let it beat him down, he just became more determined and driven. And that goofy personality was just so endearing…the pajamas…and the pillow. *swoon* As I said, their romance was odd…but I still fell in love with them together. They fit somehow. He didn’t take her crap personally, and she didn’t take his goofiness as lack of talent/drive. And I loved how his effervescence kind of rubbed off on her. I truly felt their caring for one another, despite the obstacles in their way. As I’ve said with every other book in this series, the sport aspect is just BAR NONE the best. I love all the different sports explored, and I loved that you could tell the author respects athletes, and enjoys the sports themselves. I love that we actually get to read about them performing, and that I learn something new about them. It just makes me really want to watch the Olympics right now. So yeah. These stories are all complicated and unusual, but I’m always invested in the end. It helps that I love sports romance, and am humbled by athletes, so I’m fascinated by their lives (that I would never ever want for myself).
Round Five of the Snow and Ice Games! I'm sad to see this series go, because I never knew how much I needed a sports romance book! But, this series is worth the ride! Maybe if we're lucky, Tamsen will make a summer Olympics version of this series for Tokyo 2020... Hey, a girl can hope! So let's get into the meat of this story: This time around we are graced with Jubilee and Beckett, and they are world class figure skaters. They weren't initially paired with each other: Jubilee was originally with her husband (who has since passed away), and Beckett had been playing around with who his perfect partner would be. Finally, they settle on each other and seem to be the perfect fit. And of course, what's figure skating without some competition? Sabrina and Todd, two of the people Jubilee and Beckett had been paired with, are their rival competitors. Not even 24 pages into this sexy story, and I already love the dynamic between Jubilee and Beckett. They are sassy, competitive and keep each other on their toes. I absolutely love the fact that yet again Tamsen changes the dynamic of her main characters's relationship. And if you think that this dynamic wavers at all, it doesn't. The snarky and sarcastic comments keep coming and have perfect comedic timing. Honestly, this pair is my favourite out of all five of the books Tamsen has written in this series. I liked the fact that Tamsen slowly revealed what happened to Jubilee's husband Stephen. The way she slowly weaved it into the slowly really hit me emotionally. If she would have given away what happened earlier, I don't think the story would have worked as well. This story is sweet, sometimes heartbreaking, and fulfills everything I wanted in the final novel of this series. It felt like a roller coaster of emotions and it hit every note it needed too. One thing about Tamsen Parker is she knows how to keep her fan base happy - she isn't afraid of change. I can't say enough how proud I am to watch her grow as an author because SHE'S SO GOOD. Ugh. Her books are so frustratingly good! So, brief summary of this book for those wondering what type of topics this novel includes - minor spoilers of the plot without spoiling specifics...be warned: 1. Sexy figure skating pair get some sexy time on (Jubilee - female lead, Beckett - male lead). 2. Jubilee's past partner (on and off the ice) has died, and both Beck and Jubilee have had other skating partners since. 3. Jubilee and Beck start having a sexual relationship, Jubilee is but isn't into it (but consents) 4. Jubilee and Beck's pasts are slowly revealed, which includes some harassment 5. Past partners Todd and Sabrina should not be trusted... 6. Lots of detailed sexy time Overall, this book is super steamy and is worth the read. If you were only going to pick one book out of this series, I'd pick this one. It's my favourite, I love it! All the books are good, but this one just inched by the competition (I'm not sure if it's technical points or performance points where it surpassed, if we're using figure skating as a reference). Five out of five stars!
Having just intensely watched all the Olympic figure skating, this story was a lot of fun to read! There are lots of technical skating details (which is my jam, though might be more than some readers want), and a couple who sizzle on the ice but haven't attempted anything off the ice for good reason. Jubilee's husband and partner died suddenly four years earlier, and while her new on ice partner Beckett is a steady and consistent and trustworthy presence, she's not ready to move forward into any kind of relationship. Their initial sex scenes are...well... awkward, because Jubilee and Beckett make an arrangement that he won't bring any women back to their shared room if they are having sex. It's sex on a dare, and while Jubilee is determined not to react (making it hard for Beckett to really enjoy himself with a partner who is not overly enthusiastic (but fully consenting)) it gets harder and harder to deny that she's enjoying herself. Grief takes different forms for everyone, and for her, the idea of losing another partner is terrifying. When she starts to experience deeper feelings for Beckett, she pulls away, and he knows her well enough not to follow. She's got to come to the conclusion on her own that it's worth the risk to be with him. Beckett is a really nice guy beta hero, easygoing and understanding. He's also talented and a real partner to Jubilee, understanding her moods and quirks. Jubilee is what one might call a 'difficult' heroine - a woman who keeps her emotions in check which makes her seem cold and indifferent. The reality is that she's focussed and still dealing with her grief. They make a good match. If you want to experience another taste of the Olympics and watch two people go from on ice partners to real life ones you'll enjoy this unique and entertaining romance.
Trigger warnings: death of spouse and partner, grief, panic attacks This is the last book of the Snow & Ice Games series, loosely based on the winter Olympics. While it’s part of series, each book can be read as a stand-alone, though, honestly, they’re awesome, so just read them all! Spoilers for the book below, as there were some aspects I wanted to talk about in depth. Jubilee and Beckett are fairly new ice skating partners, and this is their first time together at the SIGs. Jubilee, however, competed at the last Games with her husband, who has since tragically passed away. She’s initially relieved to find that she has a room to herself – until a mix-up leads to Beckett rooming with her. While they’re partners on the ice, it would be highly charitable to go so far as to even call them friends. Jubilee is a serious, driven ice queen, fully focused on taking advantage of this chance at the SIGs, from rounding up sponsors through interviews to practicing their routine to make it as perfect as possible. At one point, Beckett says that Jubilee “lives as though having fun is a crime punishable by death.” The last thing she wants to do is to deal with any emotions about the last time she was at the SIGs, before her husband died. Beckett has his own reasons for avoiding a relationship with Jubilee. He dated his last partner, and was left even more brokenhearted when she kicked him to the curb after they didn’t make the last SIGs. This time, he thinks he has a real shot at the gold with Jubilee, and he does not want to screw that up. So, naturally, they end up having some seriously awkward “I dare you” sex. There is some reasoning behind it (Beckett not bringing hookups back to their room), but both characters admit that, at some point, it just becomes a matter of pride and not backing down from a stupid dare. And while these are probably the least sexy sex scenes I’ve ever read, they’re an amazing insight into exactly how f’ed up Jubilee and Beckett’s relationship is. For Beckett, the whole thing is just a exercise in trying to provoke Jubilee into showing some emotions, but for Jubilee it’s a desperate grasp to keep control of the situation. At one point, when Beckett has basically dared her to go hang out with him at the SIG bar, she wishes she were back at their room watching Tangled. So, going mostly off-tangent: there’s a particular quote from that movie, when Rapunzel asks Flynn what to do after her dream to see the floating lights is gone, and he answers, “You get to go find a new dream.” I’ve heard this particular quote mentioned a lot in the grief and special needs parenting communities (perhaps because it’s a concise version of the “Welcome to Holland” story), and it fit Jubilee as well. For Jubilee, her old dream and her new dream are inextricably intertwined – winning another gold medal at the SIGs, but this time with her new partner. And if she has a relationship – one with feelings, not just sex – with Beckett, then it feels like she’s just repeating history, because she’s convinced she’ll lose him just like she lost Stephen. And even though this is something that Jubilee herself has trouble expressing, Beckett’s able to understand that, even if he’s ready relationship, Jubilee isn’t, and may never be. Overall, this was an fantastic end to the series. Recommended for anyone needing an ice skating fix, especially if you like romances between two strong, hilarious characters! I received this book for free from NetG