May Contain Spoilers
All of these short stories take place during the Olympic Games in Switzerland, and they all feature a legend about a replica of the torch that brings good luck to anyone fortunate enough to find it. I enjoy stories with sports settings, so I dove right into Love and Other Games.
Trouble with Gold by Melinda Dozier
I had a hard time connecting with these characters. Ty is a US snowboarder, and Nadia dreams of landing a job at the Olympic Committee Headquarters. Ty is a brash thrill seeker, while Nadia is conservative and serious. I usually enjoy stories with total opposites, but this one didn’t work for me, and I don’t know why. Ty came off as very immature, and the conflict with Nadia and her father was never resolved. Granted, this is a novella, so there weren’t enough pages to flesh out all of the plot conflicts as much as I would have liked, so I wish that her demanding father had never been introduced in the first place. Nadia and Ty had enough problems to work through without her father chastising her for being seen with a wild snowboarder, which was putting her promotion in jeopardy. The funny about that was Nadia’s supervisor assigned her to follow Ty and his teammates around to ensure they behaved. Their antics and practical jokes were garnering complaints from other athletes, and it was her job to make sure they stopped pulling pranks on their competitors.
Overall, this is a fast read that entertained during my wait at the airport, but didn’t stick with me.
Ice Gold by Kara Leigh Miller
I was more interested in Cole and Brenna than Ty and Nadia. Brenna is a photographer, and much to her dismay, she has been assigned to cover the USA hockey team. She meets Cole on the plane over to Switzerland, and immediately thinks he’s an ass. Granted, he behaves like one, so her impression isn’t out of left field. He pranks her, she accidentally pranks him, and then, to top everything off, he is hurt on the ice because of her mistake. Through it all, Brenna has to work through her dislike of both athletes and the Games.
Ice Gold is fast paced and a fun story overall. I liked both characters, and found this a breezy read. It doesn’t require much brain-power, so it was perfect for a light read after having to get up after only four hours of sleep to catch a plane.
The Girl Behind the Gold by Aria Kane
This one just clicked for me. Lia is an aerial skier, and she desperately needs to score gold so she can get some lucrative endorsements. Her family back in Greece is in danger of losing their family farm, and she will do anything to help them keep it. Her only problem? She’s not very likable. She’s been told she needs to lighten up because public opinion of her is not favorable. It’s doubtful that even if she brings home the gold that she’ll win any sponsor money. Then in walks Brandon, a journalist on a mission. He has to find a story that will win the hearts of his readers, or he isn’t welcome back at the publication offices. Just what Lia needs, right?
I found this one compelling and hard to put down. Lia is driven to save her family’s home, so she is all work and no goofing around. She’s puzzled why that would have any bearing on her pitching products. I liked how determined she was. She worked hard to get to the Games, and she’s not going to risk losing by playing around. Then she meets Brandon, who fails to tell her that he’s a journalist. Lia is a very private person, and she doesn’t want anyone to know about her circumstances at home. The attraction she feels for Brandon is so strong that she puts aside her usual rule of keeping to herself while she waits for her turn at competing.
Even though Brandon was not entirely honest with Lia, I liked him, too. I started worrying about how Lia would deal with the news that he was a journalist. I knew she was going to blow a gasket, and that it was just a matter of time before her happiness was abruptly brought to a halt. Would it ruin her concentration enough to make her lose her competitive edge?
This is one of the stronger stories in the anthology.
Worth More than Gold by Ana Blaze
This was my favorite story. The pacing is spot on, and relationship between Erik and Amy is engaging. After an evening of letting her hair down, Amy wakes up in a stranger’s bed with little recollection of the night before. All she can remember is meeting a hot Viking at party and having a little too much to drink. She’s hurt that her hook up didn’t even bother to stick around long enough to say good morning or good bye. Ugh! How mortifying! Amy is embarrassed and ashamed, and firmly decides that she is going to stick to business for the rest of the Games. She’s there to keep an eye on her sister, the current figuring skating sweetheart, and stay away from both guys and alcohol.
What she doesn’t count on is that Erik, her ski jumper hook up, considers her his lucky charm. He pursues her relentlessly, unleashing his devastating charm. Amy has some self-esteem issues from living in the shadow of her talented and beautiful sister, so Erik is careful not to scare her away again. He is sweet and charming and impossible to resist. How could Amy avoid her HEA with a wonderful guy like Erik?
I loved Worth More Than Gold. The author manages to squeeze a lot of character growth into a small amount of space, and I didn’t put my Kindle down until I reached the last page. What a great story to close out this anthology.
Overall, I’d give Love and Other Games a B. There is a nice mix of stories here, with enough variety that readers should find something to enjoy. This is a perfect book to load up on your mobile device and read in small chunks when you are stuck standing in line or waiting to pick the kiddos up.
Review copy provided by publisher