Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: Olympic Flames

By Gail Allison

Well, it’s that time of year again. Every country will be cheering for their respective teams, and even people who aren’t normally sports fans will be glued to the television, watching athletes compete in events that (let’s be honest here) they probably won’t watch again for another four years. The Olympics tends to bring out a sense of pride in even the most hardhearted person, and has complete strangers striking up the oddest conversations (“Hey did you see that fencing match last night?”).

When the opportunity came up to review Emma Lee-Potter’s "Olympic Flames," I was so excited, and it did not let me down. This novella (60 pages on kindle...perfect for commercial breaks!) opens on the first day of the showjumping event at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Jack Stone (a fierce competitor with even fiercer blue eyes) is watching Mimi Carter jump her first round. Mimi has worked so hard to make it on to team Great Britain for this Olympic Games. Coming from a family who didn’t have much, she’s worked her way up in the jumping world, paying almost the entire way herself by mucking out stalls and doing odd jobs around the barns. Her perseverance has paid off, and Jack is boggled to see her bouncy blonde curls come tumbling out from under her hard hat when she pulls it off after her clear round. Mimi is rooming with her old friend Suzie Gregg, a world-class cyclist who also has the honor of competing for team Great Britain.

Probably one of the best parts of this book were the little asides where Mimi explained the points and rounds of showjumping to Suzie. Having read a lot (a LOT!) of Jilly Cooper, I personally am fairly comfortable with showjumping terms and technicalities, but for the first-timer, these asides will be worth their weight in (Olympic) gold.

A few more pages in, we learn that Mimi and Jack had a fling a few years back that absolutely did not work out, and left prickly feelings on both sides. And, of course, with all the press swarming Olympic village, news of their romance hits the papers the next day and leaves Mimi feeling shell-shocked. This dazed, hollow feeling follows her out to the jumping grounds the next day, and a freak accident at the last fence lands her in the hospital, sending her Olympic dreams up in smoke.

This short story is delightful. Emma Lee-Potter has absolutely outdone herself with "Olympic Flames," building a concise little novella that manages to convey not only the warm, encompassing Olympic spirit, but also a touch of romance and a dash of Olympic bravado. I’m so glad that I have this on my’s definitely going to be one of those stories I’ll read again and again. Short, sweet, and (at this time of year) enormously relevant, I’d wager this would be a top contender for something to do during those pesky commercials. If you like this novella, absolutely check out Ms. Lee-Potter’s other books, or take a chance on Jilly Cooper or Fiona Walker (two of my personal favorites) for some more British/horsey adventures. This novella is going on my shelf of favorites for sure. A clear round for the gold, Ms. Lee-Potter. Well done!

"Olympic Flames" is $2.99 for Kindle.

More by Emma Lee-Potter:

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