It’s a real pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for Strictly on Ice by Helen Buckley, and sharing my review. Published by Choc Lit on 9th March, it’s now available for kindle and in paperback via Amazon in the UK and US, and on all other major ebook platforms. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading ecopy.
A new-to-me author today, but it’s been lovely to meet Helen over on social media, and to share her excitement over the publication of this one. Let’s take a closer look…
When falling in love comes with the risk of falling flat on your face…
Former Olympic skating champion Katie Saunders is well known for her ‘ice queen’ persona in the press. On the face of it, perhaps Katie should have forgiven her former skating partner and ex-boyfriend, Alex Michaelson, for the accident that shattered both her ankle and their Olympic dreams – but she just can’t seem to let it go.
When Katie reluctantly agrees to take part in a new TV skating show, it’s only because she’s desperate for cash. What she didn’t count on is the drama – not only is she partnered up with infamous love rat rugby player Jamie Welsh, but one of the judges is none other than Alex Michaelson himself.
As the show progresses, will Katie be shown the hard way, once again, that romance on the ice should remain strictly off-limits?
Well, what a lovely read! This might not be the first book I’ve read based around a competitive TV show, but its focus on the world of ice skating was something a little different, and really quite fascinating.
Sport Star to Skate Star pairs up professional skaters with former athletes and sports stars, rather than the usual showbiz celebrities, and securing ice queen Katie as one of their professionals is a particular coup. She left the circuit after an injury that ended her career, and has shunned the limelight ever since, blaming her dance partner Alex for the accident that caused it and breaking off any contact. But she now really needs the money, and is paired up for the show with Jamie, an ex rugby star with a chequered past who’s as familiar with being in the tabloid headlines as often as she is, for all the wrong reasons. But the production team can see a way of boosting the press coverage of the show – with some really good insights into the rather nasty world of publicity and TV ratings – and the experience becomes considerably more uncomfortable for Katie than she ever expected.
I really felt for Katie – as well as losing everything along with her skating career, she carries the sadness of losing the father who nurtured her early career, and we get the opportunity to see how empty her life really is behind the frosty and forbidding exterior. Jamie’s an excellent character too – while he might carry some of the blame for the current low point in his life, he’s certainly not the bad boy and love rat painted by the press, and deeply regrets the loss of his marriage. Unlike Katie, he’s not entirely alone – he has a loving family, and the interactions between them allow you to see that he’s really rather more of a misunderstood nice guy.
The story’s told in the “now” and “then”, and I enjoyed the insights gained into the earlier lives and experiences of both characters – it helped them to be fully rounded, to understand how they both became so damaged, and to build sympathy for two individuals whose lives that have gone seriously wrong. Some of the issues were considerably more serious than I’d expected – this is much more than the light read it appears to be at first – and give real depth to the story and characters, with one particularly disturbing scenario extremely well handled.
The central romance is a slow burn one, an increasing trust and closeness both on and off the ice that gradually builds into something more, and I really did enjoy that. And I also particularly loved the last quarter of the book, which ties up the overall story quite perfectly – really heartwarming and thoroughly uplifting, satisfyingly emotional, and yes, a real lump in the throat and a few tears. I’ll very much look forward to reading more from Helen Buckley – this was a book I thoroughly enjoyed.
About the author
Helen Buckley lives in Bedfordshire with her husband and two sons. After working in the charity sector in the UK and abroad, she turned her hand to writing and her first novel, Star in the Shadows, was published in 2019.
She writes any moment that she can, enthralled by stories of fame, romance, and happy ever afters. Apart from being addicted to writing and enjoying soft play with her sons, she’s an avid reader, action-movie fan, and chocolate addict.