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by author "Ali Dean" in Literature & Fiction
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Stark Springs Academy, Book 1
Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
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It’s not a place for the weak. No one here tolerates wimps. If you can’t handle it, leave. Welcome to Stark Springs, Colorado, home to the most talented young athletes in the world. When Roxie Slade snaps into a pair of skis, there’s no one on Sugarville Mountain in Vermont who can keep up with her. Not even the boys. Still, Roxie was shocked when she received a scholarship to Stark Springs Academy, a boarding school that churns out Olympians in each graduating class.
Winning Nationals wasn’t the only dream that came true. I also walked away with the heart of the one boy without whom I couldn’t live. I knew being Jace Wilder’s girlfriend wouldn’t be simple. But how could I have known all the hurdles we would face? Drama at school? That’s a given. Jealous girls? That I expected. Family secrets? Not so much. At least I can always hit the trails to clear my head...or so I thought. The high expectations from my winning cross country season still haunt me and hold me hostage. I can’t seem to get psyched up for what comes next.
Qualifying for Nationals. It’s all I can think about, and I’m willing to do anything it takes to make it happen. I can handle long miles and hill sprints in cross country, but guys? That’s an entirely different challenge. I’ve kept my feelings hidden from the boy next door all this time. My longtime friend Jace Wilder doesn’t see me that way. Our friendship stands apart from high school social circles, and I’m fine with that, or so I keep telling myself. That is, until running star Ryan Harding moves to town and bridges the gap.
Pepper is finally a senior, and she’s determined to defend her national cross-country title. Although Jace is busy with the demands of college football, he’s still at Pepper’s side, supporting her goals. But is she taking her renewed enthusiasm for training too far? As Jace and Pepper focus on their athletic ambitions, they discover that Jace’s social status has followed him to college, despite his attempt to keep a low profile. With her boyfriend as an idol on campus, Pepper discovers that she might just be a target to those who find Jace threatening.
When my teammates drag me to a club for my 21st birthday, the last thing on my mind is meeting a new guy. I’m not the kind of girl who gets wrapped up in a stranger on a sweaty dance floor. Except, that’s exactly what happens. Only, the guy isn’t a stranger. He’s Jett Decker, the Olympic track star who has the entire campus buzzing with his transfer to our college. He may have given me his number, but I won’t use it. I refuse to be distracted by silly things like explosive chemistry. I’ve got my own Olympic dreams to chase.
Pepper Jones is ready to start breaking some records. She’ll be a junior in college, and if she wants to run professionally when she graduates, it’s time to step things up a notch. This time around, she knows it won’t be accomplished by ramping up her training. While Pepper’s hoping for a race day breakthrough, she wonders if there’s a mental barrier holding her back, and if so, how is she supposed to confront it?
Pepper’s freshman year at college is a harder transition than she anticipated. Uncertain of her coach’s expectations or her place amongst her new teammates, she struggles to redefine her running goals and identity on the cross country team. Pepper’s steady relationship with Jace should be a source of comfort as she navigates the college social environment, but an unexpected event throws everything between them off track. Also, hear from Jace’s point of view for the first time ever.
When rising rock star Jack Kingston comes to play on our college campus, I think he’ll be just another fix. Instead, he flips everything around and makes me question who I am, what I want, and why I do what I do. After he leaves, everything changes. Pushing myself in the pool, struggling to keep up with my twin sister, it’s what keeps me from losing myself entirely. Swimming isn’t my passion. It’s my source of stability. When I find the courage to finally start pushing my boundaries, I discover success in ways I never imagined, both in and out of the water.