3.5 Jock/Tutor trope with a twist 🙂 stars
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Imagine your celebrity crush, be it Theo James, Jesse Williams, or one of those smoking hot Hemsworth brothers. Now say you meet them in real life and they actually hit on you. That’s the insane, tempting level of attraction i found myself trying to resist, and prolonged exposure would be setting myself up for failure
Now, I debated giving this book more, because it probably deserves it, but based on my personal enjoyment only, I had to lower it to three and a half stars.
Now, on paper, this book is everything I want in a NA sports romance. We have a bit of initial push-and-pull, nothing too angsty, a hot hockey player with a possessive streak, an heroine with an interesting past and really good writing. Check, check and double check.
[Ryder, when a guy bothers Lindsay]”You’re sorry? He was the one being a prick. I swear if he touches you again, I’ll break his fingers one by one — I don’t even care if he misses the rest of the season. He’s not as important to the team as he thinks”
“If you cry, I’m going to go back there and beat the shit out of him. That’s just a fact.”
So why didn’t it work for me 100%?
1- It was too predictable. Sometimes I enjoy predictable books, sometimes I find them bland. Now, in romance, you usually know how everything’s going to end. Yet, I’m getting more and more frustrated by the standard plot arc consisting of:
– one small bump in the relationship, easily solved
– a bigger bump around the middle, less easily solved
– a happy stretch until the three quarters of it
– worst bump caused by a misunderstanding or by a MC’s stupidity
– big gesture
Having read my fair share of romance novels and finding this same pattern so many times over, I’ve come to expect it, so when the shit hits the fan I’m like: “yeah, whatever. I called it twenty pages ago”.
2- The overall emotional charge of the story. It’s not that I didn’t eventually swoon for Ryder or rooted for them, and I enjoyed their scenes together, but especially in the first third of the book my heartbeat didn’t accelerate upon seeing his name on the paper or having them talk to each other. It took me a while to warm up to them and I never saw the fireworks.
3- It was hard sometimes to understand Lindsay’s situation. I couldn’t truly relate to her Superman-kryptonite relationship with hockey players. But maybe I’m too rational.
All in all, these are not mortal sins, so I’d still recommend this book. I guess it was a case of “it’s me, not you”. I wasn’t hooked.
Now to the good part.
What did I enjoy?
1- How the author added some funny scenes like the gym and paintball ones. It was different and it was fresh.
2- Ryder. He’s such a sweetheart. What I loved the most about him was how he chased Lindsay throughout the book, how he was the first one to see them long-term, how he always believed in how amazing they’d be together. Also, he destroys the dumb-jock stereotype, graduating in math as a back up plan if hockey falls through.
“You’re doing the intense thing again,” Lindsay whispered.
“This is my preparing-to-math-so-hard face.”
“When I tried to say never mind earlier, you didn’t let me get away with it.”
“Yeah, but I’m bigger than you.”
I crossed my arms. “And I’m scarier.”
Ryder studied me for several seconds, as if sizing me up for scariness, so I put on the best stand face I could, which only made him laugh. “That’s it,” I said. “You and me. Thumb wrestle, right now.”
The way he’d do anything for her warmed my heart. Hockey is his life, and yet when the guys want to go out to watch some game tapes and Lindsay doesn’t seem like she wants to tag along, he’s ready to drop his bros and just stay with her. Also, in the epilogue I fell for him even more because of how he again put her in front of everything else.
3- Ryder’s parents. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine and one of the distinguishing traits of NA: awful parents. The author tried to shine a beam of humanity on them, or at least on Ryder’s mother, a couple times, but it didn’t really work and they both come through as seriously horrible people. Still, this is the kind of external force I adore to see in a relationship, for how surreal as it is. And I especially love to see the H stand up to his parents to defend the h.
4- How this book tried to not be judgmental. Since it’s told in 1st person, sometimes Lindsay thinks back to her life as a puck bunny and I liked how she gives you the insight in that world. It was clear she was trying not to judge other puck bunnies, which at times seemed forced, but it also made for an interesting POV, because she’s human and now that she’s crossed the line from Bunny to Normal Studious Girl she’s conflicted about her two personas.
We wanted to be noticed even if we weren’t flashing cleavage and a lot of leg. The problem was that guys noticed cleavage and legs, and they sure as hell noticed someone willing to pressed said assets up against them while having an “innocent” conversation. When you decide to be one of the girls in the mix not doing those things, it’s about a hundred times harder to snag guys’ attention.
All in all, the style was humorous and fun, the characters were good, although without anything “more” to make them exceptional and the plot was predictable but enjoyable. With a few more twists and a bit more depth into their relationship, it would have easily been a 4 stars. As I said, I’d totally recommend it. Just because it didn’t rock my boat doesn’t mean it won’t rock anybody else’s!
“And if you want, I’ll make sure you’re on my team, and I’ll cover you at all costs.”
“Like you’ll take a bullet for me?” She fanned her face with her hand. “Swoon.”
“Don’t girls love it when the guy picks up the heroine in those novels you read, too?” I scooped her up and tossed her over my shoulder. “Me man, you woman. We go make paintball now.”