Monday, August 29, 2016


Balance (Off Balance, #1)Balance by Lucia Franco

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Balance by Lucia Franco
A “10” 5 star read

Let me start of by saying Lucia Franco has put herself in a whole new playing field with this forbidden romance. The story has depth, it has emotion, it has angst, hurt, and pain but it also has light hearted, witty moments. The story plays out like no other forbidden romance I’ve read. It’s not just a “let’s bang because you’re older and off limits”. No, we find ourselves caught up in an unwanted love story and in the midst of that love story is a man who struggles with the feelings and attraction he has for someone much younger than he.

“We will both be our ruin if we do not stop while we are ahead.”

Adrianna Rossi is a fifteen-year-old competitive gymnast. She has this desire buried in her to become an Elite gymnast and from there she hopes to go on to the Olympic trials. Through her father’s connections she’s able to join an Elite gym to live, eat, and breathe gymnastics. She thought she had been training with the best there was locally but much to her chagrin she finds out she still has a lot of growing to do. Through sheer will and determination she begins a grueling schedule of training, conditioning, dance, and school work. With the schedule she’s pulling there’s no way she will have time for friends, fun, or boys.

Konstantin Kova is a decorated Russian gymnast who had been in two Olympic games. He is an acquaintance of Adrianna Rossi’s father who called in a favor to help his daughter get to the Olympics. Kova is a hard ass who only wants the best for his gymnasts. He expected his gymnasts to give it their all and with Adrianna he may have expected more because she was so far behind the others and never mind the fact that he sees a little bit of himself in her. So on top of her other training she now has to do one on one training with the illustrious Kova.

“Note to self: His default personality is dick. Got it.”

Kova and Ria begin to spend a lot of time together. Alone. Through all the lifting, the stretching, the innocent touches, and heart to hearts a fifteen-year-old girl is going to start thinking about her coach in a different type of way. But this really isn’t a fifteen-year-old crush, this is real chemistry, real attraction, and even passion. Kova fights like hell to ignore the feelings he was having. He was at war with himself over it. He knows it’s wrong. He knows what could happen to both of them if it went any further than just longing glances or fleeting touches. He could lose his gym, she could lose her chance at the Olympics, and he could face jail time and being labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life. He seriously fought himself over the fact that he was feeling the things he felt. Ria is more mature than most fifteen-year-old girls. She has a drive and a desire to succeed. She knows what she wants and goes after it. Kova sees this and it endears her to him even more.

“You’re either with me or you’re against me, Kova.”

Gymnasts are put through a grueling curriculum, if you will. If you’ve watched gymnastics at all you can see the muscle tone and the near perfect 0% body fat bodies they have. They work hard for that. Nonstop. Their friends are their teammates, there aren’t many others. They literally are gymnastics. There’s no time for anything else. Lucia takes us behind the scenes and we are able to get a small glimpse at the not so glamorous life of those cute tiny gymnasts.

She gave a young girl a power that maybe she isn’t ready for but she handled it very well. She also gave her the ability to stand toe to toe with a man who, by all rights, should wield all the power in the relationship. There’s a give and take between the two of them that speaks volumes. She’s taken a not so easy taboo and turned it into a hard hitting, thought provoking, heart stopping novel.

“Fear challenged courage. It challenged the mind. Once we found courage, it meant never looking back. It persevered and defied. It gave strength to conquer the obstacles that rendered one weak.”

In a message to Lucia after reading this I sent her this:

You put us in their lives. Their day to day. You showed us how she noticed him yet how he viewed her. He was harder on her because he KNEW she was better than the shit coaches she had before. We watched their feelings grow, him fight them with all his power, an inevitable weakness in every man. So so damn good.
This is one of the very best forbidden romances I’ve been lucky enough to read. I cannot wait to see what gives us next.

Shannon Daniel
Reviewed for Stories and Swag

View all my reviews

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