Schuss by E.J. NoyesSchuss by E.J. Noyes is a new adult contemporary romance, about breaking through the barrier of fear that takes you from friends to lovers.

Stacey Evans is flying high after her medal success at the Olympics, she is ultra-focused on her goal of becoming the best alpine ski racer she can be. She has a girlfriend Bree, who is hot but uninspiring, with whom she can’t seem to find time, and a best friend Gemma, who is as gorgeous on the inside as she is on the out, whom she can’t seem to spend enough time with! But that’s normal right? She and Bree have only been together for a few months and Stacey has been away skiing for most of that. Gemma is so perfectly Gemma. She’s supportive and sweet, and Stacey might be just a tiny bit, ok a lot in love with her.

Gemma Archer has the best, best friend ever! So what if she’s had a crush on her since the first time they met, and she has managed to push it down for this long? However, denying her feelings is getting harder! But with so many obstacles to overcome, building up the courage to tell Stacey that she’s in love with her is even harder. For one, Gemma’s stepmom is Stacey’s coach, plus Stacey has a hot girlfriend, (even if all is not sunshine and roses, and actually Bree is just mean, and totally wrong for Stacey!), and worst of all what if Stacey doesn’t feel the same? What if by admitting the truth Gemma risks the best friendship she’s ever had?

Pros And My Favourite Parts

Rach: Pros are the whole book, my favourite parts are everything!

I always know when I love a book because I start off by highlighting and writing notes and then I get so lost in the story that I forget all about that important part of reviewing! Schuss kept me glued to the pages and Noyes’ writing as always dragged me in and made me feel it all! Considering this is a new adult book and it’s been a while since I was considered young (a long while) that’s no mean feat!

I loved Gold, which is the novel that Stacey and Gemma originated from as supporting characters, so it was such a treat to revisit that universe and get to know what everyone is up to.

Jenna: I too enjoyed everything about this book, including the highly appropriate title. You learn something new every day!

Rach: the characters in this book are divine! From the MCs to the supporting cast, they are all well-developed and make you invested in their story.

Jenna: Agreed, the combination of the main and supporting characters are so perfectly executed!

Rach: Stacey is 20, when we met her in Gold, she was a cocky 16-year-old, and that cockiness hasn’t changed, if anything it’s grown with her. And rightly so, this 20yr old has won a medal at the Olympics and is well on her way to being at the top of her sport. What I love about her though is that she’s not mean with it or self-righteous! She knows she’s good and she knows what she must do to keep being good and that always comes first. Underneath her Athletic body and persona, Stacey is such a soft, slightly unsure gentle soul who is afraid to fully show herself to anyone but her best friend. Stacey won me over quickly, she is just embarking on adulthood and navigating all the responsibilities that come with this phase of her life, and she does it all brilliantly if not a little begrudgingly! She has a house (although not much furniture to begin with!) and a career that takes up 90% of her time. She struggles to find time for much else including her girlfriend. But she misses her parents and the security of their home, and you can see the little girl she’s not quite shaken making an appearance when times are tough. This is one of the reasons I love her, she is neither perfect nor does she try to be, she’s just Stacey, a brilliant athlete who is in love with her best friend but is too afraid of losing her to tell her.

Jenna: Stacey has been honing her skiing for years on the pro-circuit and her life revolves around training, eating, sleeping, and competing. She loves skiing more than life itself, but she also loves and is in love with her best friend. Gemma. She doesn’t want to ruin her friendship with Gemma by revealing her true feelings so she has spent the last few years dating (dare I say) superficial, narcissistic women. As she comes to realize why she’s doing this, the walls she erected around herself begin to crumble. Stacey’s love for all things skiing makes me want to throw my fears of breaking my body out the window and strap on a pair of skis this winter to see what it’s really all about!

Rach: Gemma is 18 and just about to graduate high school. She has come a long way from the 14yr old me met in Gold, she’s still an introvert and prefers to shy away from the limelight butt she has a confidence about her that jumps off the page and a dedication and determination to succeed in life that draws you to her. Gemma loves her life, she has two amazing parents with whom she can rely to always be there with a big hug ready to guide her if she needs it. Their support and love are what help make Gemma who she is and it is so beautiful to see. Gemma is going to be a famous documentary filmmaker, she knows it! She’s not cocky or delusional she just knows that she has found her calling and she has the drive to work hard in order for her dreams to come true. The only slight twist in her road to happiness (ok it’s a giant roundabout that she just keeps circling) is the fact that she is head over heels in love with her best friend. She dreams of a life where they can be girlfriends but is also scared to cross that line, because as in love as she is with Stacey, she also loves her as her best friend, and the thought of jeopardizing that keeps all those feelings locked in a box, but the lock is faulty and it lets those feelings out when Gemma thinks they are safe.

Jenna: Little did Gemma know that 4 years ago when she was vacationing in Australia and took skiing lessons from Aspen Archer, her whole life would change for the better. From the moment Gemma and Stacey met through Aspen, they clicked. Their friendship has grown over the years into one where they know everything about the other. The respect, support, comfort, and love they have for one another is something quite special. Gemma’s been in love with Stacey since, probably, the first moment they met and is afraid to reveal her true feelings. She’s about to graduate high school and deciding where to go for college along with her mounting feelings for Stacey leave her feeling overwhelmed. She’s such a sweet young woman with a good head on her shoulders. While on one hand, she is wise beyond her years, on the other, she’s still a scared young girl. The way she navigates this time in her life shows her courage and bravery. Cate and Aspen have done a wonderful job raising such a smart, kind, loving, and passionate young woman.

Rach: What I love about Stacey and Gemma is that they are both so clueless about the other’s feelings! They are so scared of rocking the boat and of harming their friendship, that they are unable to see what is right in front of them. The author navigates this perfectly, with just the right amount of teen angst, mixed with a healthy dose of denial!

Noyes tackled the coming-of-age sexual aspect of their relationship with respect and gentleness while still making it smoking hot. I had tears running down my cheeks while I was reading about their first time together, it really is the most loving, goofy, stunning scene.

Jenna: Stacey and Gemma are both in the in-between stage of being legal adults but still often feel like kids and it was so endearing to watch them walk the fine line. With the help of their parents, they are able to navigate their way. The conversations between them are so real and so heartfelt that they brought tears to my eyes. These two are so lucky to have the love and support of their parents.  Gemma’s moms’ nuggets of advice made me laugh so hard and nod my head because yes,  they are spot on!

Rach: The writing style is 1st person which is what we have come to expect from Noyes but for me, this author doesn’t just write in the style of 1st person, this author becomes the people she writes about! I’m yet to find anyone who can write the way Noyes does. (As you can tell I’m a big fangirl fan).

Jenna: E.J. Noyes is a master of writing in the first person. She seamlessly went from writing the point of view of a forty-something combat surgeon in her last book writing this story from both Stacey and Gemma’s points of view. This is her first foray into writing from the perspective of new adults and she’s killed it.  I’m in awe of her ability to clearly voice these two distinct characters.

Heads Up

This book is part of the Gold universe but can be read as a standalone

The Conclusion

Rach: If you loved Gold then you have to read Schuss! If you didn’t read Gold then you have to read Schuss!

This book is a new adult, coming-of-age romance, but it is more than that. This book is about a deep, meaningful, long-lasting relationship between friends, it makes you realize that foundations for friendship take time and trust, and once they’re there you can’t just leave them and hope that they hold, you have to keep strengthening them and if it’s needed you re-dig them and move the boundaries.

Gemma and Stacey have some of the most solid friendship foundations I’ve witnessed, watching the way these two navigate life, ensuring they do what’s best for themselves, while still being considerate of each other is beautiful! When their friendship becomes more it is not smooth skiing, watching that trust and friendship come into play and help them find their new relationship boundaries is admirable.

If you love sweet character-driven romances, then this one’s for you. Schuss will leave you feeling warm (despite the snow) fuzzy and deliciously fulfilled. It left my heart full of love and feeling very happy.

E.J. Noyes has done it again! She’s created a book that allows you into the minds of the characters and lets you immerse yourself in the setting, so you gladly get lost in the world and have no need for rescue.

Jenna: Rach, you summed this up perfectly! Folks, make sure you read or listen to Gold. I’m partial to the audio because pairing EJ Noyes writing with Abby Craden’s narration, you will not be disappointed.

Excerpt from Schuss by E.J. Noyes

Gem slammed her car door—which would have given her away as my visitor even if I hadn’t peeked to see who it was—and walked carefully up the path to my front door. I pulled the door open before she could press the doorbell, and without a word opened my arms to her.

Gemma fell into the hug, pressing her face against the front of my shoulder as she squeezed me. “Hey,” she mumbled against my hoodie. I felt her deep inhalation a second before her body softened with relaxation.

Wrapping my arms around her waist, I picked her up, holding her tightly against me as I spun her around. “Hey yourself,” I said before setting her down again. Hugging Gemma always made me feel safe. Having her there made everything okay.

Gem pulled back, and I just caught the expression in her huge, light-blue eyes before she managed to hide it. She looked at me that exact same way every single time I saw her, but it hadn’t taken her long to figure out a way to mask it after that millisecond of giving herself away. She looked at me like I was the best thing she’d seen all day. She looked at me like she wanted to say something, but was too frightened to let it out. She looked at me like she wanted to kiss me.

And if I wasn’t so freaking scared of ruining the best friendship I’d ever had, and one of my most important non-family relationships, then I’d probably have just grabbed her already and kissed her. Also, not to mention the fact she was my coach’s daughter, which could make things weird for all of us. I hadn’t always felt this desperation to kiss her…and more than just kiss her. Early in our friendship, when we were both in high school, I’d been aware that she seemed to have a crush on me, and had just ignored it—without being mean about it, of course. But somewhere in the last two years, it’d dawned on me that I not only loved her as a friend, but that I kinda loved her as more than that. Tricky tricky.

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Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 978-1642474305

Publisher: Bella Books

EJ Noyes Online

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