Title: Blind Landing
Author: Carrie Aarons
Series: Flipped #1
Release Date: August 4, 2016
Fear stops dreams in their tracks before they even have a chance. Then again, so do injuries.
Natalia Grekov was born to win a gold medal. As the USA’s top gymnast, she’s calm, confident and ready to make her country proud in just two short months. And her elite athlete lifestyle includes no time for distractions—especially men. When a disastrous fall in practice puts her dreams at risk, it seems the only person who can help her is the one person she wants nothing from.
Spencer Russell is gymnastics’ bad boy. A cocky, laid-back charmer with abs of steel and a witty mouth, he waltzes around the U.S. Gymnastics Training Camp like he owns the place—even though he doesn’t anymore. After an injury sidelined his career and any chance at glory, he’s now just a coach, helping other gymnasts reach their goals. Serious is not a word in Spencer’s vocabulary. But when Natalia tumbles into his life, he’s suddenly sincerely interested in helping the blonde beauty in any way he can.
Can they vault over the obstacles standing in their way? Or will Spencer be the distraction that causes Natalia’s chance at gold to crash and burn?
Carrie Aarons delivers a sweet, sexy, and delightfully sassy gymnastics romance with Blind Landing. Natalia and Spencer’s story was fun and refreshing, the kind of book that lets you escape reality while you lose yourself in the excitement of chasing Olympic dreams. Having never read anything by this author before, I enjoyed the fresh, natural voice with which this story was told and her easy writing style. Natalia and Spencer were utterly addictive. Not only did they understand each other and the sacrifices that life as an elite gymnast demands, but they made each other laugh, cheered each other on, and shared a chemistry that was downright combustible. I loved the connection that Carrie Aarons orchestrated between Natalia and Spencer. It felt genuine and, despite their best efforts to keep things casual, deep. Their electric personalities and the secretive nature of their relationship led to plenty of delicious tension, flirtatious banter, and heated exchanges that kept me coming back for more.
“My body feels like it’s speeding for this immovable object, like I’m running full speed down the runway at the vaulting horse and I just need to get there to feel that flying, tumbling, out of control weightlessness.”
I had a lot of fun getting to know Natalia and Spencer. While they certainly sizzled as a couple, it was their individual character growth that really intrigued me. Natalia’s fear of injury and Spencer’s lost Olympic dreams definitely made for some emotional moments and Carrie Aarons utilized these vulnerabilities to allow the characters to relate and eventually unravel one another. Natalia was feisty, driven, and sarcastic – a great combination that had me easily connecting with her. While I would have liked a little more detail concerning her fear and it’s initial development in order to really understand the mental block she was facing, I liked the way we got to see her working to overcome it. Natalia’s strength, independence, and fierce loyalty made her the kind of character you can’t help but root for and I found myself wholly invested in her from the very first page.
“One step closer to Rio means one step closer to you having to stop avoiding defining whatever it is we’re doing.”
Spencer was cocky, hilarious, and absolutely yummy. While that was more than enough to have me crushing hard, it was his pure love of the sport that made me absolutely swoon. I love a hero who believes in something so completely; it hints at his ability to give that kind of devotion to the right woman and makes my heart all sorts of fluttery. I would have liked to further explore Spencer’s career-ending injury and the emotional aftermath in order to better understand some of his choices and behavior. However, Carrie Aarons did do a great job utilizing his various relationships in order to reveal the true nature of the character. The support and encouragement Spencer showed his gymnasts, his closeness with his parents, and dedication to Natalia’s success painted a great picture of the kind of man Spencer was beneath the bravado and witty repartee. Carrie Aarons really had me head over heels for her sexy, funny, and passionate hero.
“That’s what love does to you. It makes you feel on top of the world. Like you’re hitting the peak of the best fucking tumbling pass you’ve ever done. And then it brings you crashing to earth. Landing on your neck and breaking your whole body.”
My one issue with this book was the pacing. The first half of the story moved very slowly, and while I enjoyed getting to know the characters, it was almost too leisurely to really hook me right away. Luckily, things eventually picked up and when they did I found myself riveted to the story. I absolutely adored the group of secondary characters that Carrie Aarons has put together. Each peripheral personality promises an intriguing journey of their own and I’m already anxious to get my hands on the next book in the series. I also have to applaud Carrie Aarons on her ability to transport the reader into the world of elite gymnastics so thoroughly. This book was informative, colorful, and overflowing with emotion, allowing me a glimpse into a world that, as an outsider, I’ve never really understood. The incredible detail and vibrant imagery had me living the highs and lows of Natalia’s Olympic journey right alongside her. Carrie Aarons has definitely made me a fan and I’ll absolutely be back for more of the Flipped series!
With it being the Olympic season, and gymnastics my favorite sport to watch, I was so excited to see a novel release that would pull readers into a world of flips and tumbling, drama and romance. Blind Landing from Carrie Aarons certainly fit the bill and left me wanting more, more, more! She perfectly balanced a glimpse into the excitement and hype that surrounds athletes’ endeavors to the Olympics with a steamy romance from fun characters.
“Because while I might not have time for distractions like boys or love, it’s clear the universe has other plans. Because it put Spencer Russell directly in my path.”
Perhaps where Aarons excelled the most was in her witty banter and flirty exchanges between the hero and heroine. Given the circumstances of these two characters, there were a lot of innuendos and underhanded remarks. It really created an instant liking to them, purely because of how similar to my personality I found each of them to be. I could easily see both Spence and Nat hanging out with my group of friends on a weekend. Aside from the insane level of chemistry they had together, I really liked each of them as individuals. Nat was so goal-oriented and dedicated to achieving her dream. However, I also loved seeing her acknowledge and overcome the obstacles that were standing in her way. Spence was a hero that I instantly swooned over; he was everything a coach should be. Furthermore, he had all those qualities that I look for in a book boyfriend; he was charming and sweet, funny and supportive, the perfect ten.
“That’s why I love this sport. The things we do with our bodies, they should be impossible. For most people they are. But I’m one of the lucky few that has the ability to do them. And trust me, it makes you feel invincible.”
Aarons also does a fantastic job at bringing the world of gymnastics alive without drowning her readers in it. I found myself smiling when I understood the terminology and could really imagine the different things happening because of how much of a fan I am. However, I think there was also enough of a greater storyline and drama that people who value a good romance would like it as well. Furthermore, she raises awareness about some of the issues facing not only gymnasts, but athletes and general, and I truly appreciated seeing that. Blind Landing was a fast-paced read, perfect for cuddling up with after watching the actual games happening on TV. The author has certainly intrigued me and I’ll be watching for future books that feature the secondary characters!
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Don’t miss the rest of the series:
Grasping Air (Flipped #2)