Jacey Vaughn is not having a good year. First, there’s the cheater ex-boyfriend, then there’s her dad dying and now she’s running an NHL team with her ex-gambling addict brother when she doesn’t know anything about running a hockey team. And everyone thinks she’s dating the captain as well.
So this isn’t as bad as the other hockey romance I read (it’s sports romance month in one of my book clubs) but neither is everything I’ve been looking for in a hockey romance. First of all, I do like the plot of how the heroine and hero run across each other. It’s more interesting than ‘ran into each other at a bar’ and is more original than ‘we had a one night stand and I got pregnant but I didn’t tell you for reasons’. I wish they had focused more on the NHL part but I get that is not what people are reading this for. It did mention quite a bit more of the hockey side that most of these sports romances normally do, which I’m glad about.
It focuses nicely on other relationships other than the main romance, both family, friendships and other romances. I especially liked the relationship between Madden and East (the reporter). That ending scene between them hit me where it hurt and I really want to know more about East’s side of the story. Madden and Jacey’s relationship was explored as well but I wish that brother-sister relationships in media would move away from the ‘saintly older sister looked after younger siblings at the expense of her own dreams’. I mean at least it’s better than ‘older brother being overprotective of younger sister and tries to tell her who she can and can’t date’ but it has been done to death.
I think the relationship between Jacey and Carter was done well. It developed slowly with reasonable issues coming up between them and even though the jealousy trope came up a few times, it didn’t become overbearing or put me off at all. Although the ending was very romantic I felt it ended a bit abruptly. It was more like everything was perfect, all problems were solved, look at this easy answer. I mean, Carter won the Stanley Cup, a hockey player’s dream, and got another concussion, giving him the perfect time to retire and have him and Jacey live happily ever after. A very neat little parcel, that had no foreshadowing whatsoever.
I was quite surprised that Jacey and Carter’s relationship was such a big deal. I mean, yeah I thought sexism would come into the first female owner and first female coach of an NHL team, but when it’s one reporter with not a lot of evidence, it doesn’t make sense that was the thing that everyone focused on. I think people would bring it up as a sly aside as they write thoughtful articles about how a woman shouldn’t be owner of a NHL team without actually saying outright that the reason is because she’s a woman. I think she would have to deal with a lot of shit but I don’t think her non-existent relationship with Carter, especially since she handled media questions very well, would be such a big thing realistically.
Speaking of realism, I know why they justified bringing on dance crews and ice girls in-story but I really wish they hadn’t gone there. For one thing, I think it would have been a bigger issue made of it with the media (the first female owner employing such sexist practices?) and for another thing, I don’t like thinking about it in real life, so let my fiction be an escape, please?
Speaking of sexism, I could have done without the casual sexism about puck bunnies and the Flynn fans. From both Jacey and Carter, but especially Carter. Going on about all women he had been with before Jacey were fake and she was real showcases nothing but Carter’s casual sexism. He only had one night stands with these women, how on Earth is he supposed to know them? As for the Flynn fans, well, personally, I wouldn’t follow a hockey player around North America especially if I didn’t like hockey but they had the money and weren’t hurting anyone so I couldn’t fault them for that. They weren’t really in it enough to dislike them, none of them barely talked to Jacey or Carter during the whole book.
In the end, I think I liked this book as much as I did because it was ten times better than the book before it, which I had started and promptly abandoned. I would give it three and a half stars, but I think I’ll settle on three.