Champion skier Pippa Baker lost everything in the avalanche: her boyfriend, his best friend, and her will to win. After a year of grief, she returns to competition.
She finds more than buried memories and steep slopes in Utah. She finds Hunter Dawson, a heartbreaking daredevil with the gold medals to prove it. And she finds that his reputation doesn’t stop her from falling hard, and that her heart might not be as broken as she once believed.
But, Hunter has scars and memories too—scars that make him believe falling in love might hurt too much, scars that make him run.
Pippa knows how much love hurts when it’s gone. Will she stop herself before she’s in too deep? Or will she let herself fall?
This is a new adult, contemporary romance novel.
“I’m going to grab a drink,” I say, badly wanting something to ease the nerves and excitement of being back here. The last time I saw most of these faces was at Ryan’s funeral. I shake that unpleasant, searing memory. Parker had been a pallbearer. Joe had practically collapsed outside of the church. I shudder. Center myself in the present.
You’re in a bar. Almost a year later.
I look around for a bartender, and find Laurel instead.
“Hey!” she slurs enthusiastically.
“Lucky break today, huh?” she asks.
“Yep. You okay?”
She rolls her eyes. “Fine. I was so fucking pissed.”
“It happens to everyone,” I say with a shrug.
“Not to me,” she tosses her hair. “So, you’re like back or whatever? For real?”
I nod. “I’m back.”
Hunter leans further on the counter and looks down, past Laurel to me. “How’d you do?” he asks. His eyes are locked intensely on mine. It’s a gaze that I can’t hold for long.
“Third,” I say.
“Not bad,” he smiles mischievously. “Told you I’d pray for you.”
Laurel shakes her head as if she’s noticed that Hunter and I are talking for the first time. “Oh. Hunter, this is Pippa.”
“Hey,” I say.
“We know each other,” Hunter says automatically.
“How?” she demands.
“We were on the same plane here,” Hunter says. He watches me. He answers Laurel’s question, but his eyes don’t leave me. “Philly, can I get you a drink?”
“Ah…” I glance at him and at the bartender and at Laurel.
“Her name is Pippa,” Laurel says.
“What do you like?”
“Gin and tonic.”
He grins. “Country club girl, huh?”
Laurel looks at him and scowls. “Hunter, don’t leave without me. I’m going to say hi to all of my friends.”
She disappears over to Brooke and a few of the men’s Alpine skiers. I watch her, curiously, while a few of the male skiers let their eyes roam over me. They’re not checking me out. It’s more of a haunted look. Like, I’m the ghost of a bad memory they try to forget everyday.
They were the ones who were Danny and Ryan’s best friends. The guys they grew up with, fought with, all of that stuff.
And I’m the girl who somehow didn’t die when both of their buddies did. I swallow. I know they can’t look at me without thinking of them. I know that’s true for so many people here.
“Hey,” Hunter says softly, getting my attention. He has a beer and my drink.
He pushes the glass towards me and leaves a twenty-dollar bill on the bar.
He steps closer, sits down on a stool near me, and leans close, so I can feel the heat of his body and smell his aftershave. I like being near him. It’s warm. It feels dangerous.
“So are you always this happy with third place?” he teases.
“No. Not usually.”
He nods. “Better than second.” He rubs his chin. “Someone once told me that there’s nothing worse than fourth place, because you’re the best person not to get a medal. But I don’t think that’s true. I think second is the worst.”
I nod. “You finish second a lot?”
He laughs. “Nah. I finish first or I don’t finish at all.”
“Used to,” he nods. “Not anymore. I do some freestyle stuff, half-pipe.” He smiles. “I actually started snowboarding because I hated racing—when I skied. When I was a little kid.” He bites his lip and cocks his head. “But, I like to compete. Plus, I wasn’t any good on skis.”
“I doubt that’s true.”
“No, it is…” he shakes his head. “I raced your ex-boyfriend for a while. Danny?”
I nod. “Oh, yeah?”
“Back in middle school. Ryan, too. Ryan was fucking good. Everyone always told us to try and do it like Ryan.”
I flutter my eyelashes briefly, remembering how quick and graceful Ryan was. Even my dad, who knew little about competitive skiing, said so when he watched him race.
“The Snow Cat.”
“Ryan the Snow Cat. That’s what Danny called him—always landed on his feet.”
Hunter nods. “You don’t want to talk about this.” He moves a little closer.
“We can talk about it.” I don’t mind telling Hunter about them—he barely knew them and he seems barely curious.
“But you don’t want to.” His hair is combed back, in soft dark waves, and his eyes are big, green and glassy. The color of celery. He lifts the dark Budweiser bottle to his mouth and takes a long sip of beer. God, he looks good.
He wipes the back of his mouth with one hand, a lazy, athletic gesture that makes me look at lips, soft and…shit, Pippa, you cannot be doing this right now.
I finish half of my drink in one swallow.
“Yeah,” I say. “Nervous.”
He raises an eyebrow. I wish I could do that. “Yeah? Do I make you nervous, Pippa?”
I blush. Stupid admission. Yes. “You’ve decided to call me Pippa?”
He smiles. “I feel weird buying someone named Phil drinks.”
“Ah, got it.”
He leaned forward onto his arms. I smell the alcohol on his breath; he’s more than a little bit tipsy at this point. “So, did you feel it change?”
“I didn’t feel anything change.”
“When you finished third,” he bites his lip and slides even closer to me. He leans and whispers in my ear. “You know, nobody feels sorry for you anymore. Now that they think you might be in the way again.”
I look back, over the people I know, and then up at Hunter. “Everyone here is an adult. We all want the same thing. We know that.”
He laughs. “You think Laurel’s going to go quietly if you keep beating her?” He shakes his head. “I saw you go today. You weren’t even trying. If I could see that, then I’m sure everyone else could”
“I was trying.”
“Not like you used to.”
“You never saw me ski before, so…”
“I know what playing scared looks like. Trust me. I was that guy for a long time,” he nods. He looks down at the bar.
“What’s your point?”
“Nothing.” He shrugs: “You seem like a cool girl. And I know what it’s like. One year I was the down on his luck kid and everyone was happy to see me win. The next year, I was just the competition. And I couldn’t figure out why people I thought were friends weren’t my friends anymore. Things change when you win. When it’s you, you’re the last person to realize what’s happening.”
I nod. “Oh, and you’re just looking out for me?”
“You don’t have to believe me.”
“No,” I say. I step back. “I never said I didn’t believe you. Thanks, I guess.”
“Laurel hates your fucking guts, by the way.”
“Yeah. So I’ve heard.”
He shrugs, not saying anything back to me.
“So, what’s your deal with her? She’s your girlfriend?”
He takes a long sip of beer, buying a little more time. He swallows and smirks. “I guess it depends on whether you want to come home with me.”
A flush rushes to my face. I didn’t think I seemed that easy. Or like I wanted him that badly. “Excuse me?”
“Do you want to come home with me?”
I stare at him. “How much have you had to drink?”
“Not that much,” he shrugs. “Interested?”
“No,” I say indignantly.
“Yeah, then, sure. I guess she’s my girlfriend.” I stare at him for a few seconds.
“What? Changed your mind?” he asks wickedly.
“No.” I shake my head. “Have fun.”
“I’ll try, Philly.” It really doesn’t seem like he cares that I’ve said no, and he definitely doesn’t care if I’m pissed off. But I am pissed off—both by the question and by the fact that he’s leaving with Laurel so soon after asking me if I wanted to go home with him.
Pippa’s Favorite Things
1. Spyder Skis
2. Fresh powder
3. Red wine and pizza
4. Danny’s ring
5. Hunter Dawson
Hunter’s Favorite Things
1. Burton Camber done White board
2. Big air
3. Spending time with his little brother
4. Taking the long way home5. Pippa Baker
I really enjoyed Carry Your Heart by Audrey Bell. It is a very sweet and touching romance. One thing I really liked about this story is that it centers around the lives and careers of professional skiers and snowboarders, it sets it apart from the typical college romance novels. Bell does a wonderful job at creating very relatable and lovable characters in Pippa and Hunter. Both have had their own share of hardships and I give her a lot of credit for being able to develop more of a sense of sympathy and heart ache for them instead of just angst and drama. Plus there's something fantastic about following the love story that starts with a girl who calls the guy a douchebag when first laying eyes on him!
"Everyone suffers tragedy. I know that. Few escape into adulthood unscathed by some serious loss or hurt or trauma. Life is too chaotic. Still, after Danny and Ryan died in an avalanche that for some knowable reason didn't kill me too, I felt like a stranger in a foreign country, where I understood the language, but no one understood me."
We meet Pippa one year after a horrific skiing accident in which she lost her boy friend and best friend. She had only known her life as an Olympic skier in training, but devastated after the avalanche she disappears from that life to try and rebuild herself away from the mountain. Instead of healing she realizes that all she has been doing is hiding and with some strong pushing from her former ski coach, she returns to the slopes. But on her way she crosses paths with the "unexpectedly gorgeous- annoyingly good looking" (but complete douchebag) snowboarder, Hunter Dawson. Hunter has his own set of demons to contend with between a broken family, with a never-satisfied, retired Olympic athlete of a father who practically disowned him when he chose snowboarding over skiing and younger brother who looks to Hunter as not only a role model, but more of a father figure than their own dad. Although Pippa and Hunter have a bit of a whirlwind romance (complete with dead ex-boyfriends and his still living- and judging- friends and jealous ex-girlfriends spreading vicious rumors on the internet) we get to fall in love with them falling in love with each other. Top it off with off the Hunter's off the wall nicknames for Pippa and their banter that usually ends with her calling him an asshole (although she had some of her own "asshole" lines back to him) it makes for one enthralling romance.
"Whenever I think of him, something swells in my chest, Hunter's smile, the way he could touch me and make me just feel so many things, but above all of them, he made me feel alive."
My only real negative with the story would be the ending. I really appreciated the way Bell took her time to build up the characters and the plot, but the ending seemed to sneak up and just be over in a couple paragraphs, with lots of loose ends. But with any luck that means there will be a sequel coming and we will get more Pippa and Hunter!
4.5 out of 5 stars
About the Author:
Audrey Bell lives in New York City, where she indulges her SoulCycle addiction and expresses her passionate hatred of the 6 Train. You can find her reading in Central Park, overcaffeinating at Starbucks, or trying to kidnap her neighbors’ Maltese puppy. She loves hearing from readers
1. I lost my two front teeth when I walked into a swinging door.
2. I’m afraid of the subway and I live in New York City. I’m the most useless New Yorker you’ve ever heard of.
3. I thought the saying “for all intents and purposes” was “for all intensive purposes” until yesterday when I misused it in an email while trying to sound smart.
4. I wanted to be a journalist until I realized it was way more fun to make things up.
5. I’m addicted to Amanda Bynes’s twitter feed.
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