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Pairing Off (Red Hot Russians) by [Harmon, Elizabeth]
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Product Description

Product Description

American figure skater Carrie Parker's Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in the United States, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is paired with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she's ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he's come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he's never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to be confronted with their past…never mind share the ice with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real, Carrie and Anton's partnership will test their loyalties to family, country and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?

96,000 words


Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 796 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Carina Press (Feb. 2 2015)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00PQJI7QE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #219,218 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e066b9c) out of 5 stars 29 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e17a660) out of 5 stars Angieville: PAIRING OFF March 16 2015
By Angela Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Once I realized this book existed and that it featured Olympic figure skaters, well . . . that was all she wrote, folks. I am a huge figure skating fan. And while I actually haven't read many books that focus on the sport, there was simply no way I was going to not read a book billed as "The Cutting Edge with a Russian twist." I adored that movie as a kid. And with the figure skating World Championships coming up in a couple of weeks, I thought it was the perfect time to highlight this little gem.

Carrie Parker is fairly certain life as she knew it is over when her career as a pairs figure skater comes to a grinding and spectacular halt courtesy of a scandal involving her partner and a judge. Which is why she literally jumps at an unexpected and unusual invitation to travel to Russia and audition for a suddenly open position. What she does not expect is that the male partner will turn out to be a familiar (and wholly unwelcome) face. Anton Belikov is in need of a partner STAT. His longtime skating partner (and girlfriend) Olga has up and left him for greener pastures and a partner more likely to see her to the gold medal podium at the Olympics. Determined to achieve his dream and make a go of it without her, Anton warily follows his coach's advice and auditions the disgraced but unquestionably talented American. However, with the barriers of language, culture, politics (and a distant night only Carrie remembers) looming between them, success on or off the ice is no guarantee for this unlikely team.

I was just so taken with Pairing Off. From the very start, I could tell the story was going to wrap itself around me. Carrie is immediately sympathetic, and though the narrative touches ever so briefly on the long ago night she and Anton met, it is nonetheless clear to the reader how it affected both of them and how it will play an uneven but key role in their development as an actual pair. What I was not expecting was how deeply I would fall in love with Moscow and Carrie's experiences there. Harmon writes with great affection and joie de vivre when it comes to the streets and alleys, gardens and soaring architecture of the Russian capital. It is nothing short of a delight accompanying Carrie on her explorations, and I was so pleased that aspect of her new life was allocated adequate page time. Carrie's willingness to fight her attendant isolation and uncertainty in a foreign clime with an open and inquisitive mind and with consistent forays out into her new home endeared her to me even as it filled me with wanderlust. And as she learns the ropes of her adopted country, so does she learn the ways of her adopted partner. A favorite passage in which Carrie gets into a spot of trouble and calls Anton to help her out:

***

"I've never been happier to see someone in my life."

"What the hell were you doing?" he shouted. "Trying to get killed? I told you to stay near city center!"

She stared, looking for Anton, not this furious, wild-eyed stranger. "And you also told me about the park where I could go hiking! Look, I'm not your employee and I'll go where I please. I got a little lost. It could happen to anyone."

"But it didn't happen to anyone. It happened to you!"

Carrie felt her eyes grow wide. Was he suggesting she wasn't expendable? Or was his real concern the hassle of finding another Olga replacement? Much more likely. Her chest tightened and it was hard to breathe. "Yeah, well I'm sorry to be an inconvenience. If I'd known you were going to yell at me, I never would have called." She fumbled for her map and shook it open. "The subway's two blocks that way. Drop me off. I'll get home just fine."

"Don't be ridiculous. I'm not dropping you at subway," he muttered. "I was close by anyway. It's good you called."

"Otherwise you'd be auditioning new pair girls tomorrow."

He jerked his head around, and shot an angry look across the car. "Is that what you think I care about?"

"Isn't it?"

The tense silence was filled by the muffled sounds of traffic outside. Jaw tight, Anton turned his gaze back to the road. "You and I are in this together. Partners, like I said before." His voice softened. "Not just two skaters making tricks."

***

There is very little not to love about Anton. Yet I appreciated how slowly their relationship developed. He was still handling a long distance relationship with a girlfriend who abandoned him professionally. She was struggling to reconcile the man she sees before her with the one she spent only a handful of hours with years ago and who does not seem to remember her at all. Their respective families are complicated and play strong roles in shaping the way they see the world and the fears and hopes they harbor for their futures. There are layers upon layers between these two, and I relished the gradual dismantling and rebuilding they had to go through on their way to forming a firm and equal partnership. This quiet, romantic book is such a lovely read and one of my favorites of the year thus far.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e17a6b4) out of 5 stars Delightful Characters in a Vividly Depicted Ice Skating Romance, Great Series Starter! Feb. 25 2015
By J. Faltys - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is described as "The Cutting Edge with a Russian twist" and it's an apt description as it engendered in me the same heartwarming, feel-good feelings as the movie. From its immensely likable main couple to the colorful cast of secondary characters to the vivid depictions of the rigors of ice skating I was fully immersed in this story from the first page to the last. The descriptions of Moscow further enhanced my engrossment in this story and as an homage to the city it was a beautiful addition to the already emotionally engaging storyline.

American skater Carrie came from a family of wealth with a father more concerned with appearances than his daughter's feelings. Growing up she had plenty of heartache that took away her confidence and left her untrusting of others. A recent debacle starring her pairs partner has left her reeling even more and trying to start over in Russia with new partner, Anton. Her past connection with this new partner though could once again lead to conflict as the attraction she felt for him is as intense as ever, but as she doesn't want to be seen as the other woman she keeps her feelings hidden. As the pressure to succeed keeps mounting she finds the support of Anton the only thing she can count on in a world where she feels all alone. With the Games only a few months away, and with pressure coming from her father and blackmail from her ex partner battering away at her self-confidence, she'll need Anton's support more than ever. But will it be enough to win or will she feel like a disappointment once again? Carrie's an immensely likable girl whose self-confidence has taken a beating. She never felt good enough and hides behind a facade of the sweet Southern girl when she longs to speak out. With Anton though she slowly comes out of her shell. She carries guilt over events blown out of purportion but she closes herself off for fear of them coming to light. Her family is more concerned with their future than hers which sets her further adrift until Anton and his family take her to heart. She's a kindhearted girl hurt by those who should've protected her and it's not until she goes half-way across the world that she finds a real family who support her wholeheartedly.

Anton was always made to feel inferior to his glamorous skating partner. When she dumps him he finds Carrie to be the perfect partner as she too was seen as inferior in the skating world. He admired her loyalty though and knew she'd give her all to see them succeed. She also engenders surprising feelings in him from the moment they first met that have them soon becoming more than friends. As Anton works to earn Carrie's trust and to get her to lower her emotional walls, the truth comes out about their past connection which makes her even more important to him. To prove his commitment he's willing to sacrifice his promise to win by upending Russian tradition. Will it pay off in a gold medal, and more importantly will they stay partners off the ice once the Olympic flame is extinguished? Anton is a delectable hero, truly caring and supportive. He's a romantic man in his words and deeds and I loved his broken English and self-deprecating humor. He's loyal to family and to others who don't deserve him and in Carrie is someone truly in need of loyalty which had me rooting for them.

The romance here is a slow burning one as Anton is with someone else at the beginning. The connection between Carrie and Anton slowly builds as they move from friends into lovers and it had me captivated. The sexual tension is quite apparent from the start though and intensifies in subtle touches, glances, and flirty banter as the story progresses and once they finally give in to each other it's richly rewarding. These are two immensely likable characters dealing with pressures from the sport and from family and only together will they survive the drama. The skating scenes are numerous and vividly detailed and I worked up a sweat reading about all the work leading up to their competitions. Moscow too plays a big role in this story as readers are lovingly taken on a tour of the city. As Anton escorts Carrie throughout the city their romance flourishes in a sweet and sensual journey to HEA. The colorful cast of secondary characters, both heroes and villains, further enhanced my reading experienced and have me excited for more action on and off the ice.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e17aaec) out of 5 stars Great Sports Romance! Feb. 2 2015
By LJT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I was looking for an intriguing sports romance when I came across Pairing Off from new to me author Elizabeth Harmon. The majority of this figure-skating centered novel takes place in present day Russia, and by the end of the book, my knowledge of the country and its language greatly increased. This story is about the unlikely union of two pair skaters, American Carrie Parker and Russian champion Anton Belikov. Due to circumstances beyond their control, they both find themselves without a partner less than a year before the winter Olympics in Lake Placid, and they want to be a part of it. So Carrie temporarily relocates to Russia to train with Anton, in hopes of finally obtaining the positive recognition she deserves, while simultaneously squelching the unscrupulous scandal that abruptly ended her American figure-skating career. With the odds stacked against them politically, professionally and personally, Carrie and Anton fall in love and finally achieve the happiness they spent their entire lives training for.

Mrs. Harmon executes the tortured heroine romance trope with great finesse and understanding. The story flows at a nice pace with an effortless quality, very much like the way her characters perform their skating routines. Ms. Harmon has created wonderful, realistic characters that are both appealing and engaging. Many times my heart ached for Carrie, as she dealt with the obstacles of living and training in a foreign country, while working through the demons from her past. Her guilt was especially intense, when her politically obsessed father was creating havoc. I loved Anton with his gentlemanly and energetic approach to life. Not only is he a talented and good-looking man, he is genuine as well, which pulled at my heartstrings.

I really enjoyed this contemporary romance. Ms. Harmon is a very good storyteller and I am so glad Carina Press provided me with the opportunity to read this well-written book.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e17aeac) out of 5 stars This was a great story and kept you wanting to know more about ... March 11 2015
By Karla Crowder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a great story and kept you wanting to know more about the secrets in their lives as much as the next turn of events!! It was clear the author did her research regarding the location and rules of skating. I feel as if I can picture both! It was a great read and I couldn't put it down!!!
HASH(0x9e17ae58) out of 5 stars 3.75 STARS June 14 2016
By Jennifer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked up Pairing Off during an Amazon sale and was attracted to it because of the figure skating plot. I am addicted to the early 1990s movie, The Cutting Edge, so I had to read about a skating pair that ended up falling in love. I am also really into figure skating as a sport though I am horribly uncoordinated on the ice.

The heroine of this book is Carrie Parker who was part of a pairs team full of high expectations. Unfortunately, her dream was destroyed when her partner (and boyfriend) was caught sleeping with a judge and she was forbidden from competing for the United States ever again. Figure skating is the only thing that ever made Carrie happy so she still continued to hold out hope for glory within the sport. To achieve her dreams, she needs a new partner and ends up being asked to work with Anton Belikov, a Russian superstar. Anton and Carrie decide to give this new partnership a try which is complicated by the fact that they were once anonymous lovers and there are new feelings starting to develop.

I liked the fact that, in this book, the heroine is the tortured one with the past while the hero had a more stable upbringing. Carrie is difficult to like at first, but I believe that was by design so readers could understand how much her ex-partner's betrayal affected her. I came to admire her mental strength to keep going for her dream despite all the odds being stacked against her. Anton was very likable and a great partner for Carrie. He is super sweet and protective without being overbearing. He seemed to understand her issues early on and respected her hesitations.

I will admit that I was not sure about the romance at the beginning due to Carrie's emotional baggage and the fact that Anton had a girlfriend. Thankfully, there is not cheating in this book and the love story actually doesn't start until the girlfriend is out of the picture which I appreciated. I felt like Carrie and Anton worked well as a couple. They are put in some difficult situations, but learn to trust and rely on one another.

The first part of Pairing Off focuses on Anton and Carrie getting to know one another as friends and partners. There is a lot of detail about the rigors of figure skating training which was interesting. It felt accurate to me, but I am just an observer of the sport so experts may have to weigh in on the finer points. I liked the way that the story focused on their relationship moving from partners to friends before the romance kicked in. The second half concentrated on their love story and their attempts to get to the Winter Games. I, of course, liked the romance aspect and the journey they went on to compete. I did not care for the over-the-top villain at the end. They were in the perimeter for much of the book, but I didn't feel like the story needed their involvement.

Overall, I did enjoy Elizabeth Harmon's writing and I can tell why it was nominated for a RITA. I am excited to try out the other books in the series. Long-time readers of my blog will know that I am very picky when it comes to contemporaries, but I have really gotten into some of the smaller press romances lately which makes me very happy. And Pairing Off is a good example of one that I enjoyed reading.