As our offseason book club winds down, I wanted to share with you the one hockey themed romance novel I’ve read this summer that I can actually recommend. This series had the three things in it that are incredibly rare for this breed of book:
- Well-developed characters
- A believable romance
- Actual (and accurate) descriptions of hockey
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.
As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy façade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.
What I liked:
Both of the main characters had fairly tragic childhoods, as most romance novel characters do, honestly. But the difference with this book is that they actually…acted like it? Sutton, the heroine, is a social worker, and throughout the development of her relationship with Alex, there were several sections of dialogue where she’s leaning on her background as a counsellor instead of falling prey to many of the standard romance tropes, like “spitfire won’t back down from a fight” or “bursting into tears and running away instead of listening to the other person’s explanations.”
Alex starts out the novel an extremely bitter and sexist character, and through his interactions with Sutton learns to be introspective and work through his issues. While I won’t give it away, the grand climax of the novel was one of the most emotionally satisfying I’ve read in a long time – in large part because the characters didn’t just ignore their problems for the sake of ~true love~.
What I didn’t:
As I mentioned, there’s a lot of sexist language from Alex at the start of the novel, but fortunately isn’t pervasive throughout.
Also, somehow Sutton has attained her social work masters at 22 years old. And is running an agency? At 22? Why not 25? Why not 31? WHY AM I TOO OLD TO BE LOVED????
There are some strong trigger warnings for drug and alcohol abuse as well as semi-graphic descriptions of past child abuse, but everything is treated with seriousness. I really enjoyed this book and will probably be downloading more in the Carolina Cold Fury series. Right now, Alex is only $0.99 and it’s definitely worth the read.