The Chicago Blackhawks took the Stanley Cup this year. And yes, I realize that was several months ago, but I thought mentioning it would be appropriate for a book that centers around a hockey player. I’m kind of ambivalent towards the Blackhawks. My team is the Detroit Red Wings, and even when they have a rough season, they’re still my favorite. For this reason, I was happy to see that the author of this book, Sophia Henry, is a fellow Wings fan.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A college student takes a job tutoring and translating for a Russian hockey player, and though she finds herself insanely attracted to him, she’s held back by her fear of abandonment. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
The Good Stuff
I will pretty much give any hockey book a chance, because hockey. I enjoyed that the heroine, Auden, was a hockey fan. There was a lot of college nostalgia for me in this book, including Canadian bar trips and all Michigan mentions (since Michigan will always be my first home).
I thought the writing flowed well, and Auden’s voice as a 20-something felt genuine, as did the dialogue and banter between her and Alexsandr. Alexsandr’s Russian dialect and accent came across to my reader’s ear, and not every author can do that well. Also, and this is going to sound like a really silly thing to like, but it’s mentioned that Alexsandr has false teeth, and while that’s not necessarily a sexy thing to talk about, it’s a great detail considering that hockey is a rough sport and most players have lost teeth to the ice.
Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I wanted to like Auden, I really did. Even though she sometimes had a selfish, “all about me” attitude, I wanted to give her a chance, especially because I remember my own “all about me” phases in college. Unfortunately, she just didn’t do it for me, and there were a few reasons. Sure, she was angsty about things, all of which her understandable, but there were aspects of her life that didn’t jive for me.
For instance, she’d been cut from the soccer team, but she talks in a few sections about how good she is at soccer. When someone is cut from a team, I automatically think it was because they weren’t good enough, so when she talked about being good, it left me wondering what the story behind that was. Because not knowing just made me think she was too full of herself to understand that she wasn’t as great as she thought she was.
There was also a lot of things going for Auden, and while it’s fine for a character to have several aspects, talents, hobbies, etc.,it’s hard to keep track when they all come to the forefront. Besides the soccer thing, Auden was also asked to join a band who heard her singing karaoke (though there’s a whole section where the band isn’t even talked about, and I sort of forgot about them until they showed up later). Then you find out that she started a foundation to help underprivileged kids. Then you find out a weird secret about her family. Multiple guys want her. She treads the line of “all about me” so much that at points, I forgot she even had a tragic backstory.
The Romance Factor
This one gets an RF of 3/5. While there were some parts that were sweet, and I liked the parallel angst Alexsandr and Auden had going for them, I felt the leap from antagonizing each other to suddenly adoring each other was too quick. I wanted more conflict between them, hence more foreplay. There was a heavy dose of conflict that showed up later that brought about some delicious angst, but it also gave Alexsandr a hint of douche.
The Steam Factor
This book was tame. There was a lot of sweet kissing and the hint of some heavy petting, but there was very little sex. And in the sex there was, I’m not sure if I was reading too quickly or what, but I’m not entirely sure Auden finished. Kudos for the portrayal of first time sex as awkward and uncomfortable, but the SF was only at about a 1/5 for me.
Though I can’t list this book on my favorites, I don’t think it’s a bad novel. I would have liked to see some tighter, more focused characterization of Auden, but even with the douchie bits, I really liked Alexsandr. I believe that had I read this when I was in college, I would have had the opposite opinion. Also, I like a little more sex in my romance, but I know that’s not for everyone, so tamer readers will likely love the sweet relationship between Auden and Alexsandr.