Monday, February 23, 2015


Regular readers of this blog know that I was born in the former USSR, my first language is Russian, and that, in addition to soaps and romance novels, I spent several years working as a researcher, writer and producer for figure skating broadcasts on ABC, TNT, ESPN and NBC (which provided me with plenty of material for my Figure Skating Mystery series). That's why, when I heard about author Elizabeth Harmon's new book series, Red Hot Russians, and it's kick-off novel, Pairing Off, out this month from Carina Press, I knew I had to get her on the blog to talk about it.

Elizabeth graciously agreed and, not only that, she also offered to give away a FREE copy of her book, in either mobi or epub format, to one lucky reader. Not to be outdone (hey, it's my blog, after all!), I decided to sweeten the pot by throwing the first book in my Figure Skating Mystery series, Murder on Ice, into the rin(k), as well. So how can you win this double twist (see what I did there?) of Love, Death & Figure Skating? Couldn't be easier. Just send me an email to with "Win Skating Books" in the header, and you'll be entered into our drawing. Winner will be notified by email on Monday, March 30 (right at the end of the 2015 World Figure Skating Championship).

In the meantime, please enjoy this guest post from Elizabeth Harmon, below!

Romance on Ice
By Elizabeth Harmon

A book I started to write but never finished, inspired me to write the book that made me a published author.

I love sports movies and romance novels, and a few years back, decided to write a romance with an ex-baseball player hero.  Though that book remains unfinished, I knew if I tried another sports romance, the heroine would be an athlete, competing in one of my favorite sports, figure skating.

I had no idea what would happen to my figure skater heroine until I read about an American basketball player’s decision to compete for Russia in the Summer Olympics.

The controversy surprised me. Athletes competing for other countries isn’t new. This player had established a pro career in Russia, and come on, isn’t the Cold War supposed to be over?  But the negative reaction got me thinking, and served as the seed for my story. Because I write romance, there had to be a gorgeous man involved.  A coach? The guy she left behind...or another skater?  Throw in my love for “The Cutting Edge”... and voila! “Pairing Off” was born.

Though I skated casually as a kid, and take lessons as an adult, I felt unprepared to write convincing figure skater characters, so I did a lot of reading and lurking. My reading list included Christine Brennan’s “Edge of Glory” and “Inside Edge,” as well as Joy Goodwin’s “The Second Mark,” which offered amazing insights into pair skating. The knowledgeable posters on two popular skating fan sites, Figure Skating Universe and Golden Skate, offered a wealth of information as well.

I also turned to some gracious people in the skating community.  Several skaters and coaches from my rink were enthusiastic sources and beta readers.  Carrie’s skating passages were reviewed by 2014 U.S. Adult National Ladies Championship Level 4 gold medalist Cindy Clay Crouse.  Rockne Brubaker, 2012 U.S. Pairs silver medalist, reviewed Anton’s and a number of other passages too.

Even with such great information and expert help, there are still some areas where I took a bit of creative license. In real life, it’s doubtful Carrie’s release to skate for Russia would have come so easily, but to avoid the book becoming a saga of red tape, I resolved it early and quickly. Because IJS can be difficult to understand, I avoided delving into it in great detail, limiting it to reflections on what judges would or would not like in terms of presentation.

Writing "Pairing Off" taught me so much as a writer, skater and fan, and I look forward to adding even more detail and dimension into my next visit to the skating world (men’s singles this time) in “Getting It Back” an upcoming installment in my Red Hot Russians series.

For now, Happy Reading.


“Speaking of Lake Placid…we ought to consider a new costume designer. That yellow thing you wore at Cup of China?” Carrie grimaced.

Anton looked up and grinned. “Is that why you didn’t want anything to do with me that night? Because of my ugly outfit?”

“It’s hard to take a man seriously when he’s dressed like a giant flower.”

He glared in mock offense. “I was not flower. We were birds.”

“Well that makes all the difference, doesn’t it? Anyway, the guy Cody and I used did nice classic looks. No feathers. No sequins. I could see you in something dark and simple, maybe open in the front. Definitely short-sleeved to show off your…” Her eyes feasted on his gorgeous upper arms. What the man did to a faded T-shirt ought to be against the law. He grinned as he caught her looking. Again. Her face burned and she gave a guilty smile. “…hard work.”

Anton shook his head. “For competition, no short sleeve, no low cut. I would have to get waxed. I hate wax.” He pouted like a little kid about to get a booster shot. “It hurts.”

“You’re such a baby! I can’t believe you’re afraid of a little manscaping.”

“Do you like it?”

Well. Obviously she wasn’t the only one who’d been checking out their partner that day in the pool. Then again, he’d been involved with a skater for years. It wasn’t like he’d never seen a Brazilian before. Her cheeks flushed again. “Only in pair skating would I have a conversation like this with a straight guy I hardly know.”

“What do you mean, hardly know? You know about my family, where I grew up, what music I like, what sports I like, what I studied at university. And now you know how I feel about man-wax.”

“Fine, you win. No man-wax.”

He leaned back, his arms crossed, regarding her with narrowed eyes. “Seems I’m the one who hardly knows you. Every time I ask something, you turn around and ask me instead. Why do you do that? Why do you want to be so much a mystery?”

She rested her chin on her hand and smiled across the table. “What difference does it make?”

He started to answer, then stopped. Shaking his head, he laughed. “God, you are aggravating!”

Buy "Pairing Off" on:


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Carina Press

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Unknown said...

Alina, thanks for hosting me today.

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