by Rachel Spangler
Fencing prodigy Jess Kidman has always been ahead of her peers. At the age of thirteen she made the varsity team, won a state championship, came out, and fell head over heels in love with her team captain, Lauren Standish. After being gently rebuffed by the high school senior, young Jess vowed she would return for her some day when their age difference became irrelevant and her own accomplishments made her not merely an equal, but an Olympian. Eleven years later, Jess makes good on her promise, but when she arrives back in Buffalo a few months before the big games, she’s intrigued to find that the woman she’s always dreamed of could also be exactly the coach she needs to win gold.
Lauren, however, isn’t the bubbly team captain she’d been at eighteen. After a stellar collegiate career of her own, circumstances forced her to her dreams on the shelf and return to Buffalo. She’d made peace with a quiet life spent running a rustbelt fencing club and coaching kids when Team USA’s hottest young fencer waltzes back into her life. As much as Lauren finds Jess’s confidence and athleticism alluring, she also sees the hot-headed superstar as a threat to the carefully controlled world rebuilt in the wake of the traumatic loss she is desperate to avoid reliving. Never one to turn her back on a friend in need, Lauren agrees to coach Jess on the condition that they focus only on the swordplay and not the sharp point of attraction threatening to sever the bonds of her professionalism.
The two women set to work preparing for the biggest event of their lives, but as tension mounts in the lead-up to the Olympic games, the pressure and the passion building between them also grows, leaving both to wonder if Jess is trying to win the gold, or win the girl.