If there was ever an underrated author you needed to take a chance on, it’s Lucia Franco. Let the forbidden romance revolution begin!
Chalk up, kids, this is going to be a hell of a post.
The move to World Cup Academy of Gymnastics is the greatest challenge Adrianna has encountered. Punished for Coach Kova’s overwhelming desires, she’s reeling with resentment while she sits out the first meet of the season. As Adrianna fights to regain her
focus, he pushes her body to the extreme, leaving her mentally and physically exhausted.
Kova underestimates Adrianna’s endurance, and gravitates more toward her, despite his internal battle raging within to stay away. They try to disentangle themselves, but the tension between coach and gymnast mounts, engulfing them both in a forbidden world of deception and passion.
The one place where they should never feel alive, is where they find complete absolution. But one slip, one wrong landing, a missed grip, and everything they built can come tumbling down, damaging both their professional and personal lives.
The funny thing about reviewing a book at the same time as one of your book besties is seeing how crazy same and yet different your reviews are. Once I finished mine, I read Charli’s and it amazes me how we focused on very similar aspects of the characters and story development. We both, apparently, also cannot write a short review, which just goes to show how this story has TAKEN OVER OUR LIVES (I am assuming it’s taken over Charli’s life as much as mine).
We were a forbidden chemistry. A lethal attraction. With Kova, I had this dark desire to always want to be his little vixen and attract all his attention. I’d do anything for it.
I nodded enthusiastically when Charli said, ” I loved how Ria embraced her darker desires and pushed her boundaries in everything that she did because that is a huge part of her personality.” I could not agree more, in my own review I had said, “Ria continues to embrace her sexuality, and despite being inexperienced she does not shy away from her lusty feelings. Ria is undoubtedly sexual, and while it may be hard to accept that because of her age- it’s not really far off from a lot of realities. She expresses herself through her sexuality, even if she craves words from Kova, they communicate through touch- Ria just doesn’t know how to decipher it yet.”
Again, when we separately discuss Kova, we use ALMOST THE EXACT SAME WORDING at moments- we are definitely on the same wavelength, Charli.
…Only you, Ria. Why do you think I cannot get enough? I have never felt like this with anyone else, and I do not know what it even is. All I know is that I am hooked on all of you. Hooked on your body, hooked on your smiles, hooked on your personality, hooked on your ambition, hooked on you. I can only hope you feel the same way.
Charli: “Kova’s character development in this one was my fave. I got to see a softer side to him. The amount of anguish and raw pain that we see Kova experience is heartache inducing. Kova is a complex character who you really have to pay attention to his actions to figure out what he is feeling. He has a motive for everything that he does and it is not his life’s mission to intentionally hurt Ria or Katja. However, he sucks at verbalizing his feelings and actions so Ria ends up hurt more times than not. I wanted to junk punch Kova several times, but the last time takes the cake.”
April (Hi, that’s me!): “We see a softer side to Kova, and while he has his moments that make us want to slap him silly, there is more in a look from those green eyes than you realize. We only have Ria’s point of view, but let me tell you, Lucia shows us what we need to know about Kova spectacularly, if you just pay attention. Kova is a man in utter emotional turmoil. He is struggling with his feelings for Ria, the draw that they have towards each other, while also crumbling under layers of guilt because of Katja. Kova is one of the most emotionally complex characters that I’ve read, if I am being honest and we aren’t even inside his head.”
This book put both Charli and I through the gamut, essentially slaughtering our emotions. While it pushed Charli out of her comfort zone in all the best ways (Balance and Execution), it made me feel unrealistically close to fictional characters. It’s difficult to review a book like this because there is just something so… EXTRA (and I don’t mean that in the obnoxious way) about it.
You can find both of our FULL (read: long AF) reviews on our Goodreads
Charli – Full Execution Review
April – Full Execution Review
It goes without saying, that the Off Balance series is not for everyone, but if you are willing to push your own boundaries, and step outside of your comfort zone, Lucia will give you a story that you cannot ignore.
Both Charli and I give Execution 5/5 stars- however, I’m sure we could also agree it’s more like 10/5 stars, am I right?
A competitive athlete for over ten years, Lucia Franco currently resides in sunny South Florida with her husband and two boys. Paranormal romance was her first love, but she has a soft spot in her heart for small-town and reunion romance stories.
When Lucia is not hard at work on her next novel, you can find her relaxing with her toes in the sand at a nearby beach.
Find out more about Lucia at authorluciafranco.com. Make sure to join her newsletter to receive exclusive updates and more!
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“Tighten up, Adrianna. Squeeze your thighs and butt. Everything needs to be firm so you do not sway. The tighter you hold yourself, the less you fall. You cannot loosen for one second. I do not want to see anything jiggle on you. Keep your focus.” He paused. “By the way, your mother gave me a ring yesterday. Such a lovely woman she is. So caring of her daughter.”
I stopped and looked down at him, letting out a gush of air I hadn’t realized I was holding.
“Uh huh. Start over.”
I ignored him. I couldn’t believe Mom called him. “What did she say?”
“What did she say, Kova?” I pushed, snapping at him. I probably looked like a psycho to him, but he held firm and wouldn’t speak until I started up again. I huffed under my breath and jumped. Typical Kova. He always had to get his way. My coach was an exasperating man.
“Just that she wanted to know how her precious daughter was doing. I told her you were getting there but still had a long way to go.”
I lowered my eyelids. “Of course you did. What else?”
“She said she was concerned about your diet and wanted to make sure you were eating nutritious meals. She mentioned when you went home for the holidays you let go and ate everything in sight. She wanted to make sure you are not still on that same path. Something about you had to buy new clothes because your old ones did not fit.”
My heartbeat sped up, and my lips parted. The animosity in her words rang like a siren in my head of things she’d said to me that I did wrong in her eyes. Moisture beaded above my top lip. I gripped the jump rope handles tighter, my skin burning against the plastic. I jumped faster and harder.
Kova was still speaking but I only caught the tail end of a few words. I wasn’t processing any of it; all I could focus on was the fact that my mom had called him and fabricated lies and he listened like a good little sheep. She took vindictive to a whole new level and I had to wonder why she was trying in vain to sabotage my gymnastics career. She wanted to ruin me for the sake of ruining me. It was the only plausible reason I could come up with and a side of her I hadn’t yet seen. I was her daughter, she was my mother. I didn’t understand her attitude toward me.
A prickling sting deflated my chest and my breathing grew strenuous. I slowed down until I stopped completely. My arms dropped to my sides, and I stood with one foot positioned slightly in front of the other, staring in a blank trance at nothing but feeling everything.
A muffled cry burst from my lips and I threw the rope to the floor. Kova jerked back. Tears filled my eyes and my heart ached, not because I was sad, I was, but more so because I was so irate and filled with resentment that my own mother would purposely set out to hurt me. I hopped down, formed a fist, and dropped it down on the balance beam as hard as I could. I shoved at the side of it trying to push it over, shoving my weight against it, which could never happen. It was too heavy, but it felt good fighting against something.
“God! I hate her! Hate her with a passion!”
“Hey,” Kova said softly, coming up behind me, but I couldn’t stop.
“I can’t stand her! No matter what I do, it’s never enough. I never over ate anything, and I bought new clothes because I lost weight. Because we had stupid parties she forced me to attend. She is such a liar.” I kept my back to Kova so he wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes. “And you played right into it, making me sound like I’m hopeless, like an amateur who still needs years of work, and even that might not be enough. You gave her exactly what she wanted and she fed off that, I know she did. She has it out for me, always has, always will. Nothing I do will be right for her.”
A fat tear slipped from the corner of my eye, and I walked away. I didn’t take more than a few steps when Kova clutched my arm in his hand.
“Stop,” he said gently. “Ria, I told her you still had a way to go because the truth is I am not ready to let you go yet.”
I didn’t know how to respond to that.
“Just give me a few minutes, Kova.” I yanked my arm away and pushed at his chest. “I’ll be right back.”
Kova grabbed my wrist. “Stop. Listen to me.”
I shook my head. “Please, just let me be for a sec and I’ll be fine.”
“Kova! Just leave me alone!” I screamed.
But he didn’t. Kova pulled me to his chest and I immediately fought against him.
“Get it out,” he said. I shoved at him and cried harder, giving him everything I could. I hated that he was doing this to me and appreciated it at the same time. “Fight harder, hit me if you have to, just get it out.” I struggled between crying and shoving, but Kova didn’t let go, and something in me cracked.
My efforts slowed, and I covered my face and let the tears flow. I poured everything out against his chest. Everything I held in over the past year. From my mom and her backhanded compliments, to the rigorous training I demanded of my body, to the illicit affair I had with my coach. I cried over everything, and he let me.
“Shhh… just let it out,” Kova said, rubbing soothing circles on my back. “It is okay.”
When my cries and hiccups subsided, I sniffled and expelled a huge breath. I felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders and I could breathe again.
Stepping back, Kova tried to lift my chin, but I kept my gaze cemented to the floor. I was too embarrassed. I didn’t like crying to begin with, and I sure as shit didn’t want to show him my tears. Tears showed weakness, and I wasn’t weak.
He tried to lift my chin again, and when I didn’t budge, he sighed and got down on one knee so he was eye level with me.
“Jerk.” A sad chuckle escaped my lips. “You always find a way to get what you want.”