Friday, February 22, 2008

Tango's Edge by Carole Bellacera

TITLE: Tango’s Edge
AUTHOR: Carole Bellacera
PUBLISHER: Cerridwen Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 128k)
GENRE: Contemporary romantic suspense
COST: $7.99

Russian ice dancer Mikhail Kozlof wants to defect, and he thinks American rival, Kerry Niles, is his best bet. While both are competing at the Olympics, the attraction between them catches alight, threatening both of their respective partners. Ready to retire anyway, Kerry takes a risk and agrees to the crazy plan of driving Mikhail across the country to her stepbrother in Virginia. What she doesn’t know is that the Russian Mafia and the IRA have a personal stake in Mikhail’s defection. Neither group is going to let it happen, and the lovers find themselves hunted almost from the moment they hit the road…

When it comes to target markets for this book, I think I’m pretty much it. Figure skating is must-see television in my house during the Olympics, I own White Nights, and I can quote a good part of The Cutting Edge. It didn’t take much to convince me to buy this at all. It took even less for me to really enjoy it.

I fell hook, line, and skate blade for Mikhail. He’s blond and beautiful, with one dangerous-looking scar on his face just to make him more beautiful. He speaks broken English that charms me to my core, he skates like an angel, and, oh yeah, he’s got a conscience. The reason he wants to defect? He wants to expose the slaughter of a village, the one that took the life of his real father. He also wants to avenge his mother’s murder, and for as much as he loves and is wonderful at skating, he’s willing to sacrifice a gold medal at the Olympics to do it. His partner, Elena, is a real ice bitch, which makes it all that much easier to like him, and root for his attraction to Kerry. Getting me to fall for Mikhail almost from the beginning was the smartest thing the author did in this story.

Kerry isn’t quite as well developed as Mikhail is, but there is an irrepressibility about her that’s hard to resist. She knows her limitations, recognizes her faults, and strives anyway. How can I not like that? I even bought her walking away in order to help Mikhail defect.

Not all the characters get the same respect when it comes to even characterization. The villain of the piece, Elena’s bodyguard Sean, is all over the place. His entire motivation for going to the lengths he does is his love for Elena and his desire to have her as the mother of his children. It felt a little too Harlequin for me to buy, especially since the rest of the characters don’t seem to wear the same shade of rose-colored glasses. Elena isn’t very well-rounded either, which doesn’t pose a problem until the last third of the book when she comes into greater play.

While I loved the romance and runaway aspect of the first two-thirds of the book, the last third almost felt like a different story. Kerry takes a backseat, while Mikhail drives the thrust of the action. This wouldn’t be a bad thing – and in actuality, is a minor complaint – but after spending so much time with Kerry, it felt very odd that she becomes almost superfluous. This was a woman who held her own, including disabling a Russian attacker at one point. To have her spending her time shopping and moping around didn’t sit well.

In the end, however, the romance in the story was incredibly charming and just a little bit magical. It moves along at a steady, engaging pace, and if it gets a little bogged down with politics (which requires a bit of suspension of disbelief, due to the changing political climate in Russia) in the last third, the chemistry between Mikhail and Kerry more than makes up for it.


8/10 – Though the length works against it in the latter half of the story, it’s mostly smooth and engaging.


9/10 – Romantic and adorable


7/10 – Not as well fleshed out as Mikhail, but irrepressible enough to make me adore her

Entertainment value

8/10 – The last third of the book feels like a different story, but it didn’t stop me from reading straight through

World building

9/10 – I would have preferred more backstory, but I can live with what I got.



1 comment:

Carole Bellacera said...

Thanks for the compliments! I'm glad you enjoyed my book. :)

Carole Bellacera