Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | Amazon UK
Note: This book was originally published as a single story, as a follow up to Cold War. The two books were then combined into one long story, originally called The Winning Edge, but now re-released as Cold War. You can check out our review of the original first story, Cold War, here.
Misha Reznikov and Dev Avira have both retired from competitive figure skating after winning Olympic gold and a world title respectively. They somehow managed to keep their affair a secret while they were competing, but have spent the time since retiring living together in a quiet beach house. They are still not ready to come out, however. Misha and Dev worry about how being gay would affect their professional skating careers, and both men are pairs skaters and have partners to think about as well. Misha also worries about how coming out would affect his family and his partner, Kisa, who still live in Russia where anti-gay sentiment is so rampant. And Dev isn’t quite sure how his parents will react to the reality that he is not just gay in theory, but actually has a real partner.
The men manage to make it through a summer skating tour together, somehow still maintaining the appearance that they are fierce rivals rather than lovers. But it continues to be a struggle for the men not to show affection around one another. They don’t even feel like it is safe to be seen together and so their relationship takes place completely in private with a lot of sneaking around when they are at skating events. As they perform in a holiday special around Christmas time, things become even more complicated. It is hard to continue to hide their feelings for one another, especially while they are in Dev’s hometown and his family is near. Misha is starting to realize he doesn’t want to hide his relationship any more, but worries that Dev will still not want to be open. Both men are falling hard for one another, but they must decide if they are ready to go public with their love or if they must keep hiding it in the shadows.
Holding the Edge is a follow up to Cold War and wraps up the story of Misha and Dev really nicely. Whereas the first book focused a lot on the skating world and the nuances of competition, this story is focused primarily on Misha and Dev and their relationship. I really liked that as I felt it was hard to get a great feel for these guys together in the first book and here they are really front and center. We can see the easy companionship between them and the clear affection they have for each other. As we start the story, it is obvious that their relationship has grown strong since they retired from competitive skating and they are really sexy and sweet together.
This book is told this time from Misha’s POV, which I really liked, as we get to see that softer side of him that isn’t always apparent to others. It also helps us follow along as Misha starts to feel like he really is ready to be public with their relationship after all. It is a hard situation for these guys, because it is not just them affected by their decision. They have a limited window to take advantage of their popularity and to book tours and promotions as professional skaters. If the public or sponsors turn on them, their skating partners will suffer too. Misha also has family in Russia and his partner Kisa still lives there. While he was a competitive skater, the Russian government heavily controlled Misha’s skating career. Now that he is retired, they could make his family and friends really suffer if they chose to retaliate for Misha coming out. So we can see the reasons for their hesitation are big ones. But at the same time, it is so hard for these guys keeping up appearances, especially when their feelings for one another are so strong. Misha especially just wants a normal life. He has disliked skating for years and he wants to move on and be free to live how he wants now that it is over.
I really loved how we see their partners Bailey and Kisa support them unconditionally and both women want the men to put their happiness before their careers. The women add a nice spark to the story, both like sisters to their skating partners and bringing some spunkiness and attitude that is lots of fun. While I do think these issues are explored well, we do spend most of the story sort of in a limbo about when the guys will come out. That is the major focus of the book and at times it seemed a bit repetitive because that is really the only conflict here (or at least the one all the other conflicts wrap into). The book is under 100 pages so it is definitely not like things drag and I do love how it all resolves. But I did feel a little things were a tiny bit stuck through the middle.
The only other small issue I had is the transition between the first two chapters. We open the book with the guys getting ready to start a summer tour in Asia. We meet a bunch of side characters and sort of catch up on what has been going on since the last book. We learn they will be on tour and then will go home to LA together before doing some shows in the fall. Then suddenly in the next chapter it is Christmas and the whole rest of the book takes place over those few days of the holiday show. It was just an oddly abrupt shift, because we get this set up for the tour and then before it even starts we jump to months later without seeing anything happen. I am not sure why the story doesn’t just start with the holiday show as we get a lot of set up for this summer event and then this big time jump and it is all over. This isn’t a major deal, and we do get a super sexy scene between the guys as they sneak around the hotel. Just sort of an awkward transition for me.
So if you are fans of Misha and Dev from Cold War, I really think you are not going to want to miss this one. For me it really rounds out their relationship and gives us a better sense of them together, as well as a nice epilogue for their story. We can see the love between them and the good place that both men have reached, both personally and professionally. They are super sexy together and I loved Misha with all his Russian endearments. The story has a nice bit of holiday feel as well, as the skating show is on Christmas Eve and there is some discussion of the various holiday celebrations. I loved where this book takes Misha and Dev and think it is a great wrap up for their story.
Cover Review: I kind of love this cover, mostly because you really get the feel of both these men. Not to mention that we so rarely get a good full on depiction of non-white men in romance covers. It is really pretty and fits Misha and Dev perfectly.