This review may contain spoilers, so fair warning, upon reading the review.
About The Book
Adrianna Rossi is no stranger to the rigorous demands required of her body. Years of pain and determination make her one of the best. Olympic glory is the ultimate goal, and she’ll do anything to achieve it. Even if that means leaving home to attend World Cup Academy of Gymnastics, a training center that serves one purpose—producing champions.
Perfection, precision, and dedication are required of his athletes. When two time Olympian Konstantin Kournakova is persuaded into training the young hopeful, he immediately regrets it. She doesn’t come close to his high standards. As the relentless pursuit of her dream keeps her striving, a passion is ignited within him.
Kova’s power and domination, coupled with Adrianna’s fierce tenacity, reveal there is more for her body to learn. Every interaction can be misconstrued, but there’s no mistaking the darkening of his gaze, the lingering of his touch, or the illicit image of his bare skin pressed against hers. Integrity is on the line. One toe off the beam and their forbidden desires could ruin everything they’ve worked for, throwing it all off balance.
Do not ever be sorry for the passion that lives inside of you. It is a gift not everyone is given
Balance is the first book in the Off Balance series and this was recommended to me by a good friend on Instagram. Its been a long while since I have read a taboo contemporary so I was intrigued by this one, the setup was so interesting and there was this rich atmosphere of the gymnastic theme that was solid in this one. But definitely check the triggers on this one and also its a very lengthy book (but the writing is engaging so you will breeze through the 600 pages). This is an author I have become fascinated by and some of her books are banned books which only interested me even more. I also was wondering where this story would go and it’s definitely a series that features one couple so keep in mind as there is a definite cliffhanger (kinda) in this one. There are also underage themes and a (couch-student) affair so I would recommend knowing that before going into it and being prepared to have some of your boundaries tested. However, taking all that in account, this was a solid read and I am excited to explore it more.
Gymnastics was everything to me—it was my heart and soul, the air I breathed. It was the one thing that allowed me to be me.
Adrianna Rossi is a gymnast and has dreamed of competing in the Olympics one day and she is willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill her dream. So convinces her father, to take it seriously. She is almost seventeen and he takes her to the “World Cup Academy of Gymnastics” where her father’s friend runs it and the man that would be her main coach….two time Olympian Konstantin Kournakova. He warns Ria that this will push her limits and the training is brutal but her talents will become more refined. Adrianna is determined to make it through no matter how tough it gets. Kova pushes Adrianna to the limit, pushing her out of her comfort zone, and through the training, there is a sizzling chemistry that grows slowly between Kova and Adiranna. They both know how dangerous it is for anything to happen between them, they know their love is forbidden and some lines shouldn’t be crossed. However, sometimes the taste of the forbidden is too hard to resist.
We were balancing on a fine line and we both knew it.”
What I Loved
There were so many aspects to the story that I really adored. The pacing of the story is highly engaging here, so I do think its a book that you will be able to sweep through very quickly, despite its length. Don’t let the 600 pages make you resistant, because the writing is the type that will be a page-turner and I read it in less than three hours and in one sitting so I was very drawn into this story. The characters as individuals are highly well written. I adored the way that these two characters were written and what glimpses we get of their strengths and vulnerabilities. Our hero, is Russian (and you all know that I LOVE a sexy dominant Russian). This hero is highly mixed in my thoughts, I love his confidence and assurance, and how he pushes his students to excel to the best of their abilities.. He has these tender vulnerabilities in small moments that make me want to hug him because he has had a rough life, but he also a fierce determination that is impressive and matched within our heroine. Adrianna has had parents that aren’t super involved in her life, her mother is indifferent and even though she loves her father, he isn’t around much. There is a level of maturity in Adrianna where she does feel older than her age so its easy to forget that she is underage. Even though the surroundings are packed with “mean girls” she doesn’t get caught in their vicious cycle, I loved her inner strength and tenacity. She has such courage and strength of will to forge ahead no matter how hard she is pushed. Then we have the atmospheric tone of the story, This ASPECT I truly adored. We get to see a side of gymnastics that most don’t get to see and its evident that the author did her research. We see what gymnasts go through on a regular basic, how hard they are pushed and what is expected of them. Its a sport I have always loved, and seeing this side of it was a phenomenal experience. There is a taboo in this book and I was torn with it. I will be honest I just JUMPED into this book without reading reviews and seeing what it was about haha I think if I had known more beforehand I would have enjoyed it more. Because I don’t mind age gaps or even when the character is underage if there is a higher maturity. But I did love the slow built chemistry that builds between these two,. I really felt this was carefully written,
You are so beautiful it hurts. You hold yourself together even during the toughest times. You are a force to be reckoned with, something no one will see coming.
What I Struggled With
There were definite issues that I had with this story. The first was the hero. I had such mixed feelings about him, he can be brutal in many ways in his effort to make his students succeed but his character felt disjointed at times and very unbalanced and I never knew what to expect from him, Then there is the cheating aspect. Now there is cheating, the hero is in a relationship with someone else and still has intimate contact with Adrianna and there is mention of him going back to his girlfriend after being with Adrianna (whether he actually does is unknown but there is a reference to it). This taboo nature of their relationship will make you uncomfortable at times but that is what taboo romance is….it pushes your boundaries. (it might have been a bit a bit much for me as I had a good friend that went to prison for getting involved with a student) So it definitely felt too close to reality in some respects for me that caused more discomfort than others might experience. Also lastly there is a cliffhanger, so fair warning on this.
You are my greatest weakness. From the moment I set eyes on you, I have been fighting my attraction.
I found Balance to be a tantalizing read that pushes your limits, extends your capabilities and delivers delights of the forbidden to your reading experience. Its a story that captivates, cultivates and inspires with cultivated determination and sensuality.
We were a revolving door of temptation and persuasion.
Author: Lucia Franco
Genre: Taboo Contemporary Dark Romance
Length: 610 Pages
Storytelling Quality: 4.5
Story Itself: 4.25
Character Development: 5
Writing Style: 4
World Building 5
Feels + The Romantic Heart 3.5
Cover Art 5
Overall Rating of the Book
Simmering—soft warm touches and light intimacy
Warm- a medium level of sexual tension, a balance of sexual and emotional intimacy, lighter on the details in the sexual moments.
Steamin’ up the room -the sexual content is more explicit in the language and tone, heavier amount of sexual scenes.
Blazing fire to the building-The prime focus is the sex scenes, scorching hot, and could burn one. Less focus on the emotional intimacy to the relationship.
Cheating, Relationship w/ a Minor, mentions of Rape and Death of a Parent
Balance-Pub 2016 #1 in the Series
Execution-Pub 2018 #2 in the Series
Release-Pub 2019 #3 in the Series
Twist-Pub 2019 #4 in the Series
Dismount-Pub 2020 #5 in the Series
Lucia Franco resides in sunny South Florida with her husband, two boys, and two adorable dogs that follow her everywhere. She was a competitive athlete for over ten years – a gymnast and cheerleader – which heavily inspired the Off Balance series.
Her novel Hush, Hush was a finalist in the 2019 Stiletto Contest hosted by Contemporary Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. Her novels are being translated into several languages.
When Lucia isn’t writing, you can find her relaxing with her toes in the sand at a nearby beach. She runs on caffeine, scorching hot sunshine, and four hours of sleep.
She’s written nine books and has many more planned for the years to come