Blood, sweat, hard work, and a disconcerting lack of tears—my entire life—was meant to culminate in a flourish of glory and significance.
I’d thought I’d always known exactly what that meant.
But I’d had the timing wrong by about three minutes.
I knew now.
This moment wasn’t everything. The one person I found myself wanting more than anything during it was.
One preconceived notion can haunt you for the entirety of your life.
I thought I owed it to myself and to everyone who’d ever backed me to do what was expected. What was right. What I was supposed to do.
But nothing is forbidden in love. Not circumstances or propriety or the denial of the object of said affection.
I knew now.
This was it.
If I wanted it, I had to take it.
This gymnastics love story is more than grips, rips, and battered hands.
For Calia Nickleson and Nikolai Bagrov, it was everything.
This is my first time reading anything by Laurel Ulen Curtis and I have to admit that the main reason I picked it up was because of the fact that it took place in the gymnastic world and a wave of nostalgia hit me and took me back to when I was a young child watching the summer Olympics and wishing I was one of the girls competing and I found that These Battered Hands was a thoughtful and sweet character driven romance about learning to enjoy life and finding that once you do dreams you never thought to have could actually come true.
From the moment I met both Nik and Callie I liked them. Nik is steadfast, loyal and thinks outside the box, which comes in handy when dealing with Callie because he definitely needs to dig deep when dealing with Callie. Callie I liked because while she may not be warm and cuddly on the outside, she had her reasons. Her entire life has been dedicated to gymnastics and her father’s dreams of Olympic glory and that makes for an awkward and strained for her when she’s not feeling the love and joy for the only life she’s ever known, but doesn’t know what else to do. That is until Nik enters the picture
Nik and Callie’s relationship is one that has many facets to it that make for a rocky road for them both. There is the building of trust on the coaching front as well as working through the fact that they are both physically attracted to each other and figuring out if it would be worth it to cross that invisible line into what would be deemed a forbidden relationship (I am not one of them in Nik and Callie’s case). And on top of all of this is the spectre of Callie’s father’s expectations thrown into the mix to make things just that much more complicated. But Ms. Curtis does a great job at keeping all aspects of their courtship balanced and show how each step brings Nik and Callie that much closer to gaining their HEA.
The prologue peaked my interest, but it was the first chapter, and first time that Nik and Callie meet, that really hooked me. In that one chapter I got to see who Nik and Callie were while getting glimpses of who they could be together and knew that I needed to be on this journey with them. The writing was engaging and I really liked the dual 1st person POV and the attention to detail when it came to the gymnastic world and Olympic trials. My only issue was that the story did drag at times, but considering that this is a character driven story I understood why and appreciated the author took the time with both Callie and Nik’s evolution instead of rushing it.
The Bottom Line: This was a sweet romance that had me rooting for the H/h from start to finish.
~ ARC provided by Rock Star PR in exchange for an honest review ~
Laurel Ulen Curtis is a 28 year old mother of one. She lives with her husband and son (and cat!) in New Jersey, but grew up all over the United States. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology, and puts that to almost no use other than forecasting for her friends! She has a passion for her family, laughing, and reading and writing Romance novels. Oh, and she's addicted to Coke. The drink, not the drug.