“Inspiring and sometimes heartbreaking, this sports romance series will have you clamoring for more women’s pro cycling!” Amazon Reviewer
The genre-busting trilogy of sports romance novels, Wheeler, written by local author, Sara Zalesky, gets its dramatic conclusion with One Fire Burns Out, Another’s Burning, coming in May 2019.
Fans of the series are introduced to protagonist, Loren Mackenzie in Wheeler, where she is the cool, collected leader of an elite professional cycling team. When a chance encounter with actor Graham Atherton leads to a whirlwind romance, Loren’s carefully orchestrated life is thrown into chaos. Pressure builds to keep her secrets hidden under the eye of the tabloid media, and when a jealous rival pushes her to the brink, everything she has fought to achieve – her career, her relationships, even her sanity, is put in jeopardy.
The second volume, In Darkness, There is Still Light, finds Loren struggling to develop her relationship with Graham under the continuing strain of public scrutiny. Adding to the stress, a bittersweet reunion forces her to deal with emotions and memories she buried.
Though Wheeler was recognized as an official selection of the 2017 New Apple Awards’ Cross-Genre Category, Zalesky doesn’t think of the series as bridging two distinct styles of sports romance and women’s fiction. Instead, the avid road cyclist and indoor cycling instructor sees the worlds of professional cycling and acting as a natural fit for a stirring romance.
“Both professions are intensely individual,” she notes, “and require the skill of balancing your own instincts against those of others. They also can be isolating, and all too often can involve periods of depression and anxiety. I thought characters with these experiences would understand each other.
“At the start of filming or a race, there’s a rush of energy and excitement, but you know you can’t go out too hard and charge ahead of the pack. You have to temper it. And, having teammates willing will burn themselves up for you to win is essential. Over the course of a long race, your rivals become allies and take turns doing the hard work at the front so the others can draft behind them. Kind of like being in a relationship.”
Zalesky checks herself with a laugh. “It’s easy to forget whether I’m talking about cycling or love, since they’re such good metaphors for each other.”
The final volume, One Fire Burns Out Another’s Burning, finds Loren struggling to stay atop her professional game when a reporter hints at her involvement in a doping scandal. At the start of the racing season, rivals become allies and friends become adversaries, testing Loren in both mind and body, but she is determined to prove herself worthy of being a World Champion. Can she find a way to bring it all home?
“We’ll see,” says Zalesky with a grin. “Nothing worthwhile comes without a little bit of suffering, not in love and not in cycling. But I think things might work out for Loren after all.”