Spiraling by Rachel Cross

9781440574887_p0_v1_s260x420Available: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Crimson

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Michelle

Blue-blooded Amelia “Amy” Astor was a champion, America’s sweetheart, and on track to give the US Olympic medal glory before she gave it all up to join skating’s equivalent of the circus. Now she’s a professional princess, the lead in Enchanted Ice. But in an industry that values young, cheap, and healthy, her age, salary, and injuries are a liability.

So when she’s offered a job teaching Hollywood heartthrob Shane Marx to skate for a role in a hockey film, she leaps at the opportunity. Maybe with the right kind of exposure, she can survive one more season and put off decisions about her future a little longer. If she invites the wrong kind of exposure …well, there’s that pesky morals clause waiting in the wings.

Shane Marx traded his boy band dance moves in TruAchord for acting lessons years ago. His blond, blue-eyed gorgeousness makes him the most sought after romantic comedy lead in the movie industry. But lately his clean-cut image has been tarnished by one sex scandal after another.

When America’s ice princess meets Hollywood’s hottest leading man, what could go wrong? Inside that sequined costume is a woman of steely determination who has conquered many of her demons. And beneath his sinfully attractive exterior, Shane Marx is a man still battling his.

This is the second book I’ve read by Rachel Cross and one thing I’ve learned is that she does not deliver romance in a pretty little package. Amy and Shane’s relationship in Spiraling is a total disaster from start to finish, but at the risk of sounding cliché, it’s a beautiful disaster. There is no fairy tale story here – it’s gritty and sexy and emotional and messy.

Amy Astor is a figure skater on the tail end of her career. She quit amateur skating at the top of her game to join a professional skating show. Performing as a princess isn’t exactly on par with winning Olympic gold, but the intensity of the competition circuit and pressure from her coach were detrimental to her health, both physically and mentally. When she decided to leave the sport she loved, she was beaten down emotionally, injured and on the downward spiral of anorexia and bulimia. Pulling herself out of the abyss, she gets help, gets healthy and starts a new skating career with the cast of the show Enchanted.

Shane Marx is a Hollywood leading man with movie star good looks, credible acting talent and a musical background courtesy of the boy band he performed with. He’s been living the good life in the spotlight for years, and has the reputation to prove it. He goes from woman to woman, his shallow “relationships” causing problems in both his personal and professional lives. Never one to commit, he is dumbfounded by his attraction to the straight-laced Amy.

These two have problems galore – individually and together. When Shane’s agent hires Amy to teach Shane to skate for a movie role as a hockey player, there is instant animosity. Amy sees Shane for what he is – a sinfully gorgeous womanizer with a bad reputation that he’s earned. Shane thinks Amy is an uptight blueblood, but a beautiful one whom he can’t seem to keep his mind off of. The more time they spend together, the more they begin to see past their initial impressions and their true selves emerge. They move from dislike to like to lust to love, and then it all comes crashing down.

Given their histories, their lifestyles and the nature of the business, it’s not surprising that everything went to hell. I liked the way the author portrayed both of them as flawed individuals who were somehow so right for each other. Shane’s behavior disgusted even himself, and I loved the last part of the book where he recognized how badly he needed help and went about making changes in his life. Amy’s situation was different, as she was forced to make her own changes, but in the end, they both had to face their problems and trust themselves before they could trust in the love they still felt for each other.

This book was filled with more angst and turmoil than romance. The chemistry between Shane and Amy was scorching, and Rachel Cross knows how to write a hot romance between tormented characters. I didn’t always like the things they did and said, but I believed in their feelings for each other. I couldn’t figure out how they were going to get their happy ever after, but they did and it was beautiful. My only complaint was the abrupt ending. I would have liked more of a reunion scene or even an epilogue.

I give Spiraling by Rachel Cross 4.25 stars!

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