Title: Fire on the Ice
Author: Tamsen Parker
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Sports
This is not going to be a kind review. This book is a clusterfuck that infuriated me so much, I’m not feeling disposed to be nice, especially given that Tamsen Parker is a writer that I’ve heard only good things about, thus I actually had expectations going in. The blurb seemed interesting, the writer a known one. What could go wrong? A lot, it turns out.
My first issue was that this book isn’t a romance, but erotica. While I’ve read erotica that I enjoyed, this was definitely not one of them. This story is a proof that there is such a thing as ‘too much sex’, given how nothing else happens. The characters don’t even talk until around 30-40% into the book, which for someone like me who loves banter and is uninterested in sex, is insufferable. If the sex was at least interesting, I could enjoy that, but no. It’s boring. It’s so, so boring. It feels like the characters going through a list of sex acts they should perform for the reader’s enjoyment. There’s no chemistry between the characters! How do you expect me to be emotionally invested in two characters fisting if they talked to each other once! I ended up skipping pages on regular, audibly groaning.
There is barely any character development. Hell, there’s barely any personality to these characters. The first-person pov is jarring, especially since these two characters, that are supposed to be so very different, sound exactly the same. They didn’t talk about any of their issues or expectations maybe until the last few chapters of the book. We are never any reasons why Maisy and Blaze even want to be a couple, since apart from the sex, they seem to be completely incompatible.
Maisy is the only one who goes through at least a bit of character development. She starts off by being judgmental about Blaze’s bisexuality and seems ignorant as to what polyamory is, but after Blaze’s explanation (which reads more like the author preaching at the reader), she shifts her views and all is good. Then she learns to be more confident by having Blaze trample all over her boundaries. That’s pretty much it.
It’s Blaze who I have most issues with. Frankly said, Blaze is a dick. She’s a dick who doesn’t respect Maisy, does something absolutely horrible to her, never apologizes, never even tries putting herself into Maisy’s shoes, and then acts like she’s the victim, gaslighting Maisy. And then the book continues as if nothing happened.
Here’s a spoiler version of what Blaze does. Since she’s afraid she won’t score a medal in the games and she’s desperate for any kind of attention, she sets up a public meeting with Maisy where she kisses her, with a paparazzi nearby to take photos and publish them. That would put Blaze in the news, since as far as the world knows, Maisy is straight. Maisy, who is closeted. Maisy, who has emotionally abusive parents who force her to ‘keep that thing private’. Maisy, working in figure skating, a famously homophobic sport. Blaze publicly outs Maisy to the whole world, only because she needs attention and is willing to get it any way. Blaze spends the whole book talking about how trust is important between partners and then she does this? I refuse to accept that from a supposed romance heroine. It’s absolutely disgusting.
Maisy calls her out on outing her, and then leaves, having a very bad panic attack. The entire time Blaze is angry, because in her twisted way of thinking, Maisy being angry about being forcibly outed to the whole world means that she’s just ashamed of being seen with her and that she must think Blaze is a slut. She also argues to herself that Maisy should be out because ‘Canada isn’t’ homophobic’. I’m sorry but what? WHAT? In what kind of universe is that okay? We already have proof in text that yes, there are homophobic Canadians, such as Maisy’s parents! How can Blaze, an American, argue that being out in these countries is absolutely safe? Hell, I’m from Czech Republic and while it’s one of the better countries when it comes to gay rights, I still don’t feel safe being out? What kind of goddamn argument is this?
So Blaze forcibly outs her, which is absolutely never okay, then gaslights her by arguing Maisy is just ashamed of her because she’s slut-shaming, Maisy has a horrible panic attack. And then what happens? It’s all forgotten. We end the chapter with the panic attack and start the next one with Maisy pretty much over it, watching Blaze skate, everything mostly forgotten. The author has this awful, traumatic thing happen and then it’s as if nothing happened? How do you use something this bad as a plot point for some ‘drama’ to happen, and then ignore all the repercussions it would have for the character? How can you have Maisy ever trust Blaze again? At this point, I only finished the book because I hoped Maisy would drop-kick Blaze into the garbage where she belongs. That didn’t happen, even though I strongly feel that it should’ve.
It’s not often that I read a romance book and don’t want the characters anywhere near each other. Even with books I end up hating, I’m still usually okay with the characters staying together. Not with this one. A couple where one of them shows such contempt for the boundaries and safety of their partner is not one I could ever cheer for.