5 Hearts · YA Contemporary

Black Diamond (Stark Springs Academy Series #1) By Ali Dean



Black Diamond (Stark Springs Book 1)

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.

Entering as a high school junior, Roxie can’t wait to learn from renowned coaches and train with the fastest ski racers from all over the globe. But, upon arrival, Roxie discovers that Stark Springs lives under its own set of rules, and it appears one boy plays dictator.

Ryker Black is not friendly and Roxie cannot fathom why everyone wants to be his friend.Sure, he’s gorgeous and rides a snowboard like it’s his fifth limb, but he’s cold, ruthless, and holds way too much power over the Stark Springs population. Roxie won’t put up with it. She’s here to train, and she doesn’t care about impressing anyone off the slopes. The only problem? Ryker Black doesn’t permit defiance. Not without consequences.


Disclaimer:  I am a huge fan of Ali Dean. I think if I ever meet the women, I will give her a hug and say how much I enjoy reading her books. I own the entire Pepper Jones series and have reread them too many times to count; so, when I found out about her newest series Stark Springs Academy I jumped up with glee! 

Those of you that are already a fan of Ali Dean and have read the “Pepper Jones Series” here are is some basic info. Pepper Jones had more running lingo, which I was able to follow. The new series is about a skier, and I am not very familiar with winter sports lingo. Personally, my one and only time attempting at snowboard, was a disaster and I have never attempted it again. Lots of the lingo I need to look up or get definitions for. So if you understand ski lingo then you are fine. If you don’t really know ANYTHING about skiing, don’t worry, it doesn’t attract from the story. You and I will need to catch up on some of the terminology.

There are many similarities to this story line as there are to Ali Deans other series.

    1. Girl totally focused on a Sport
    2. Cocky guy with personal hidden baggage
    3. The Guy has his own fan club and groupie following. Pretty much everyone worships him.
    4. Mean girls that do cruel things to those they feel threaten by
    5. Protagonist insecurities about her own athletic abilities
    6. Complications with love interest

So I say now…
Goodbye Pepper and Jacy and Hello Roxi and Ryker.

Now Black Diamond
Roxi is still coming into herself. She is a 17 year old girl. Starting a new school thousands of miles from home. She received a scholarship into Stark Springs Academy, which is a winter sports athletic boarding school in Colorado. Most people in the school have been going for years. With Roxi being an outsider, no one knows why she was brought at this time. She loves Skiing. It is something that she has thrived in. She makes a few friends at the school, and is trying to learn the ropes on how everything is done at the academy. Which means not stepping on Ryker Black’s toes. He has power and the ability to make Roxi’s life miserable. What makes it difficult for Roxi besides her stubbornness, is her physical attraction to Ryker.

I enjoy the two of them. Their dynamic is interesting. I wish she wasn’t so physically attracted to him. She is memorized by his ‘turquoise eyes.’ Ryker knows he is hot. He just assumes that he can get any girl to fall into his bed, but Roxi doesn’t fall for his tricks. She calls him out on his crap. You go girl! Even though her standing up for herself at times, back-fires in her face, she still is determined to stay focus.

When skiing begins, she is criticized and pushed to her breaking point with her instructors. She was a big fish in a little pond. Now she is a tiny fish in the ocean. Roxi has an immense amount of growing to do. She needs to learn how to not always stand out, but still be strong and confident in her abilities. Roxi also needs to learn how to treat her new friends. I didn’t like at times how abrupt she was with her friends from the Academy. She seemed full of herself at times.

The things that I enjoyed about this book was how alpha Ryker was. We find out that the guy has serious control issues. I mean the man (who is only 18) doesn’t ask anyone, he tells everyone what to do. He is mean, rude, self centered and acts like a bully. So at first glance you HATE the guy!

When Roxi transfers to Academy, she is shell-shocked when ever one bows down to Ryker (figuratively). They actually compare him to Prince Williams of Wales. I mean that is just nuts, but once you find out more of Ryker’s back story it becomes clearer why people compare him in such a way. He has family baggage (don’t we all) and it is difficult for him to handle many of the responsibilities that he is required to do. He is a powerful person at a very young age, and that can be scary.

So if you liked the overall flow, and main situations that occurred in the Pepper Jones Series, you will most likely enjoy this new series of Ali Dean’s. I want to say I finished this book in less then a day. I couldn’t put it down. I am looking forward to the next one.

To all my YA Sports fans.

Here is another 5 Heart Book!

You will not be disappointed. 

To read on Kindle Unlimited or purchase through Amazon click HERE

Picture–Just a Short Thought–

The Definition of:
Black Diamond
: Expert trail denoted on trail maps and signs by a black diamond. The trail may or may not be groomed, and can vary from the merely tricky to insanely difficult. A double black diamond indicates the steepest, most difficult runs at a resort. (https://www.skis.com/Glossary-of-Ski-Terms/article-12-18-2012,default,pg.html )Cleave Mrs. Dean. I like how Ryker’s last name is Black. Hmmmm… Play on words there maybe? Lets change the word trail to Ryker, and then see what you all think.


Parental info:  Swearing, sex conversations, active drinking, bullying

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