Ice Dance is the initial novel in a series about a Texas figure-skating pairs team and their quest to win Olympic gold. This story focuses on the difficulties of their thorny start-up.
Retired ice-skater Dean Steel is offered a chance to win back glory by pairing with young skater Shannon. Agreeing to do so, he abandons his graduate studies, tries to overcome the bitterness of his failed skating career and grudgingly dodges sexual advances from Shannon’s wealthy mother. Shannon fights with her mother, wrestles with her weight and searches for motivation.
The action in the story is not on the ice but behind the scenes. Concentrating on the seamy underside of competitive ice-skating, this book details the sport’s supposed homophobia, use of sex as power, and corrupt judging practices. The plot is logical but often wanders into daily life events instead of focusing on the pair’s professional struggle. The pace is fast and keeps the reader engaged, except when the author goes into highly detailed technical explanations. Twelve of the 22 chapters end with footnotes that clarify statements in the narrative.
The dialogue is character-appropriate, but readers should be aware that it contains profanity and uses slurs such as “homo,” “fag” and “retard.” This is an adult book with explicit sexual content.
Despite the sexual elements, the story fails as a contemporary romance novel. There is no likable hero or heroine, and the passion is driven by lust, greed and anger instead of an emotional connection. The main characters have few redeeming qualities, making it difficult for the reader to care about their plight. Additionally, the fiction is burdened with several nonfiction history lessons about the sport.
Readers looking for backstage tidbits and skating tricks of the trade might find this book interesting, but this bitter tale presents too many obstacles to make for smooth skating as a whole.
Also available as an ebook.