In the intense and exhilarating Extreme Risk series debut, a hotshot snowboarder and a rebel with a cause try to let go of the past—and find a future with each other.
Twenty-one-year-old professional snowboarder Z Michaels is the bad boy of Park City, Utah. He’s always had his pick of any girl in town—and on the competition circuit. But underneath his cool exterior is a young man in turmoil, trying to take the edge off tragedy by overindulging in sex and shredding the slopes. In fact, Z’s rash behavior is a thinly veiled attempt to blunt his emotional suffering with physical pain.
Ophelia Richardson isn’t like any girl Z has ever met. Though she’s from New Orleans, she’s no Southern belle—and she’s not shy about being miserable in frozen, godforsaken Park City. But after nearly dying in the same drag-racing accident that killed her boyfriend, she needs a place to heal, both physically and emotionally. The last thing Ophelia wants right now is a boyfriend—especially one as rich and reckless as Z. But Ophelia soon discovers that he isn’t what he seems. If anything, Z may be even more damaged than she is.
Feeling alone in the world, Z and Ophelia find a connection unlike any they’ve ever known. But their tormented pasts pull them in every direction, forcing their relationship into a downhill slide before it even begins—unless they can find the strength in each other to trust, grow, and love again.
Z is a pro snowboarder on his way to the Olympics in Sochi and a bright future in the snowboarding circuit. He has talent that most snowboarders don't have. He can do tricks that many others can't. But an incident from his childhood still haunts him and he uses physical pain from wiping out and other dangerous tricks to drown out the guilt he still feels. Sex also helps keep his mind off of the ghosts of his past and he has a lot of it. But when he meets Ophelia, something is different. Once he starts getting to know her, he sees parts of himself in her. She is carrying around her own painful past, and when she sees that he's more than what everyone sees, they find peace in each other. But the past isn't so easy to let go.
We have one character punishing himself for his past, and another running from her past. They recognize the same pain in each other and with the others support they both start to heal. But the journey is just like the slopes that Z snowboards down: long, dangerous, and livening; and once at the bottom wonderful, awe-inspiring, and fulfilling, leaving them both with a lighter burden.
There was a small part where Z was driving Ophelia home when the song "All Apologies" by Nirvana cam on the radio. It may not seem like a very important thing in the whole story, but I think that it's a particularly emotionally powerful moment, where by listening to the song they are both punishing themselves for what happened in their respective pasts. The song itself is powerful, and it's meaning is different for everyone.
The cliffhanger at the end has me desperately wanting the next book, Shattered.
Z: He is in a downward spiral, using drugs, alcohol, sex, and physical pain to drown out the thoughts and guilt that plague his mind of a past incident as a child that eats away at him even now. He is an adrenaline junkie who uses his high and natural talent to do amazing tricks down the slopes that many would never be able to pull off, but he also uses it to cause himself pain as a way of punishing himself. As a result, he has scars all over his body, had several broken bones, and numerous concussions. When Ophelia catches his eye, he sees her as another woman he can drown himself in and then move on to the next. But that changes when he sees something familiar in her eyes, a pain that matches his own, and he realizes that she's different than all the other.
Ophelia: She moved from New Orleans to Park City to escape the awful car accident has left her heartbroken and scarred. She is in Utah to heal and get her life back together. She has taken a job at the coffee shop in the ski lodge that her aunt and uncle manage, and plans on going back to school as soon as she can. When Z walks up to the counter in the coffee shop and starts shamelessly flirting with her, she sees him as nothing but a playboy and dumps an iced coffee on him. But the more they get to know each other the more she realizes that they are more similar that she thought.
It all starts with Z walking up to the coffee counter and shamelessly flirting with Ophelia, right after have another woman hanging all over him minutes before. The end result of that first meeting? Ophelia dumping an iced coffee down the front of Z's pants, to cool him down.
After being brushed off a number of times, Z's friends make fun of him that he's losing his touch. He's never had to work so hard to get a woman in his bed before. So he makes a bet with his friend, Luc, that he can get Ophelia in his bed before the next snowboarding event, each betting their best snowboards.
But after a snowball fight with Ophelia and his friends, he starts to feel guilty about the bet, but it's not until he saves Ophelia from a co-worker who was sexually assaulting her, that their relationship really takes a turn.
I really liked Z and Ophelia's relationship. There wasn't an insta-love, but there is insta-attraction. I liked that they had to work through their problems and really learn to trust each other before they got into a serious relationship.
Snowboarding! I may live in Minnesota where we have very snowy winters, but I have never been skiing or snowboarding. I have absolutely no idea what Triple Back Rodeos, Inverted 1440s, and Triple McTwist 1440s are, but they sound cool, don't they? I definitely wanted to watch the snowboarding events in the Olympics after reading SHREDDED.
There was one scene that really had me on the edge of my seat, as I'm sure it'll leave most readers. And that was the time Z was boarding back country and he went down a very, VERY steep run. He basically went off the side of the mountain without any regard for trails, or even himself. He does all these amazing tricks and just nails everything on the way down. The video that was recorded went viral in a matter of minutes. But it's that very video that causes Ophelia to push Z away. You'll have to read SHREDDED to really get the full effect of how intense and exciting this scene is.