Fire & Ice by Rachel SpanglerFire & Ice by Rachel Spangler is a masterful sports-centric romance that highlights Spangler’s writing mastery. Like the athletes she writes about, Spangler continues to strive to be better in her field and has proven she is time and again. With her latest contribution, she takes us into the world of curling. In this arena, there is plenty of fire. The question is will we see it on the ice, off the ice, or both?

Max Lauren made a mistake that shattered her life. She was one of the top sports journalist in the country. Now she’s relegated to covering lower-level sports, namely curling. To Max, curling isn’t even a real sport. But she isn’t too worried. She’s always gotten back up after being knocked down. All she has to do is finish this one assignment, get back in her boss’s good graces, and she’ll be back on the football sidelines in no time. Max learns, though, that the road to redemption is more slippery than she thought. She’s going to have to thaw her icy resolve if she wants to make her way back to the top. Luckily, one person is willing to help her do it.

Callie Mulligan is the amiable skipper of America’s second-best curling team. She has both the mental and physical skills to become Team USA’s top contender. What she doesn’t have is the exposure or the funds. Callie and her team are counting on Max to give them the exposure they need to make extra money. But Max’s veneer is as cold as her attitude towards curling itself. Callie isn’t deterred. If anything she’s determined to make Max like curling no matter what.

As Callie and Max spend more time together, Max slowly begins to warm up to the sport, and to Callie. Pretty soon the heat of desire grows into a fire neither of them can contain.

Passion, competition, ambition, and raw need collide among the bright lights of success and celebrity. Can the fire between Max and Callie be sustained? Or will it melt the icy surface they stand on along with their hopes and dreams of the future?

The Characters

The title of this book is an accurate description of the women in this story.

Max Lauren is the ice. She’s still dealing with the fallout of a mistake that has left her personal life in shambles and almost ended her career. Now she is looking for redemption, but it’s not going to come in the form she wants or expects. When she first arrives in Buffalo, Max feels curling is beneath her. She’s cold, argumentative with the athletes, and refuses to learn anything about the sport. All she wants to do is pay her penance and get back to reporting about real sports. But someone is going to make that fast getaway more difficult.

Callie Mulligan is the fire that will spark Max to life. As the skip of her team, she eats, sleeps, and breathes curling. Her entire life revolves around getting more time on the ice and becoming the best. But she has other attributes that Max can’t help but take notice. She is compassionate, amicable, and has an amazing physique that has the icy reporter take notice immediately. More importantly, she is patient to a fault, which comes in handy when dealing with Max.

Both women need each other to achieve their goals. If they’re lucky, they’ll be able to find a few extra, meaningful ones that go beyond reporter and athlete.

The Writing Style

Sports romance truly is Spangler’s forte. Her ability to balance between the featured sport and the developing romance is uncanny. The success of the sport intertwines with the success of Callie and Max. It’s a delicate balance that must be cultivated to have the desired effect on the reader when they reach the last page. It’s also a balance that Spangler has officially mastered.

The Pros

I really liked how Spangler chose a sport that is not widely known among the general population. Not only does she shine a light on curling, but she also makes comparisons between it and other sports to show the commonalities. There’s a physicality, a psychology, and a science to curling as much as professional football. All of these elements are the base start points in all sports and Spangler does well to highlight them, thus showing us that all sports deserve our attention and respect. 

The Cons

I want to learn curling now. Unfortunately, I live is Southern California. Not an ideal place to find a curling club.

annas favourite booksThe Conclusion

Spangler’s stories always make me happy, especially when they involve sports. Her ability to take us on the journey with Max and Callie, balancing it perfectly against the sport of curling, is a talent I want. She truly gives us something special with this one, and I look forward to more in the future.

Excerpt from Fire & Ice by Rachel Spangler

“Hey!”

Max turned and raised an eyebrow.

“What the hell’s the matter with you?”

“Excuse me?”

“Seriously.” [Callie] stepped outside, the gravel of the alleyway pressing uncomfortably on her sock-covered fee. “What’s your problem? Are you this petulant and pouty all the time, or is it a new thing you’re trying on for shits and giggles?”

Max’s mouth crooked up into a smile. “Wow.”

“No, I want a serious answer, because you seem dead set on being as offensive as possible while still acting like the offended party. Did I do something to torque you off, or had you made up your mind to disdain me before we ever met?”

Max frowned, opened her mouth, and the closed it again. She turned her head to the side as if pondering the question for a moment.

“Are you kidding me?” Callie fired back. “You have to think about your answer that hard?”

Max shrugged.

“We’re busting our asses in here because we have a job to do.”

Max rolled her eyes. “That is not a job.”

“You’re a pretentious asshole, you know that?”

Max laughed. “I’ve been told that a time or two.”

Callie sighed. “Has anyone told you that you suck at your job?”

Something wounded flickered through Max’s expression, but she still lifted her chin. “Actually, I have.”

Callie stared at her, waiting, practically pleading with her to make the connection, but the mask of defiance fell back across her features as quickly as it had faded.

“Look, you may not like curling, and you may not like me, but this is my job, and even if that doesn’t matter to you, writing about it’s supposed to be your job, too. Don’t you at least care about that?”

Max’s shoulders slumped slightly, and she nodded. “I do.”

“Then, maybe we could start from there. Your job matters to you. My job matters to me, and for the time being those jobs intersect. So, I’m all in on your little challenge.”

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