Book Rec: Training Season by Leta Blake


This book is truly amazing. Matty is a competitive figure skater who failed in the last Olympics and has dreams of coming back and winning gold at the next one. He's flamboyant and fabulous, very gay and proud of it. He takes a ranch-sitting job in Montana for six months from a skating patron because it's easy money and he can focus on his skating without the distractions of friends and the big city. Enter the next door neighbor, Rob, a gorgeous Montana rancher who is openly gay and who falls at first sight for Matty (of course, who wouldn't).

There's so much to love and admire about this story. I loved the descriptions of the beautiful Montana scenery. I loved that, despite being a fish out of water, there was no plot wasted here on homophobia and hate. People in the town of Whitefish were very curious about Matty, and there might have been some distant sneers, but there was also Rob, an out rancher, and his friend Bill, who ran the local gay club. This book wasn't about small town narrow-mindedness and thank God.

I loved Matty's strength and beauty (as Rob puts it). I take it he's loosely based on Johnny Weir, who is just adorable. And Rob, the rancher, was a nice surprise. He wasn't stereotypical at all. He had a lot of depth and maturity. His "toppiness", his ability to understand Matty, and give him what he needed, was intelligent and exciting.

I loved the imagery of a major world figure skater skating on a little iced over pond on a Montana ranch. It's very "Ice Castles" and you can feel the impact that Matty has on Rob's life and heart, as if a beautiful bird landed on the window of a prison cell. (OK, that may be taking it a bit far, but you get the analogy). Rob is not really happy ranching, he's rather stuck maintaining the family farm. Having a glorious creature like Matty show up next door is just too good to be true. For Matty, having the studly hot next door rancher, "Montana personified", turn out to be gay is like every sex fantasy made real. Only Rob turns out to be much more than that.

These two are wonderful together and they fall so deeply in love. The author does a wonderful job of building their relationship and she takes the time to do so. And it's not only Matty and Rob's relationship, but Matty's relationship with Rob's son, Ben, and Rob and Ben's with Matty's family. These are built scene by scene until you are totally invested in Matty and Rob as a couple as the only possibly sane way for reality to go on.

The book gets very angsty when it's time for Matty to go home and go back to the world of figure skating. And he doesn't have an easy time of it either. As Rob says, Matty's boyfriend Figure Skating fucks him in the ass without lube. Repeatedly. There was a point at maybe 80% where I thought I couldn't really take it anymore. But finally we get an HEA and it was worth it.

Besides being a lovely romance, I admired the examination of Matty's fear of failure on the ice and how Rob helps him overcome it with BDSM. Though this is not really a BDSM book, nor do I really like BDSM, there were scenes in here in which their sex play goes in that direction, but it's for a very good, real, emotional reason and it totally worked for me.

Highly recommended.