The start of an all new series from Ms. Aicher is hot even if it revolves around an ice hockey rink. Romance lovers who like athletes, this book is for you. Dylan Rylie is a great defenseman for hockey. He's on the top of his game and he's ready to "switch" his image as his agent has carefully laid out and planned for him. Apparently going from perceived party boy to mature responsible serious player provides more credibility as well as possible advertising deals. Dylan is following all of this until his path crosses Samantha Yate's. Samantha's career hit her pinnacle and it's all downhill from there. Her love of hockey can only go so far because she's a woman. There are no professional hockey teams and it's not as if she can play in the NHL. At the young age in her mid-twenties, she's already a has been.
For a woman whose drive to make it to the top and take it to the Olympics, this sudden lack of direction is hard for her to swallow. If she can't have a career playing hockey, then she wants to be away from hockey all together. When a side bet between Dylan and Samantha is caught on video and goes viral on Youtube, her careful plans to extract herself from hockey comes crashing down around her.
The plot of this story is great. I really enjoyed how Ms. Aicher poses the conflict of female professional athletes. It's not fair but it is business driven through dollars. Ms. Aicher's presentation of how the hockey world exists shows how she either loves the sport or she's done a ton of research. I'm not a huge hockey fan or knowledgeable about the subject, yet after reading this book, I feel as though I've had a hockey 101 and 102 immersion course. I love when authors can teach and expose me to something new.
The character building in this story is fabulous. Dylan is a very likeable guy and it's easy to see his point of view. His frustrations and how he wants to be better so he can secure the next level of his career is all understandable. His world shifts when he finds a person he respects does not have the same opportunities. Rather than feel guilt, he wants to make a difference. This is what makes Dylan so loveable. Samantha is a strong female who loses her way. In some ways, she's experiencing a mid-life crisis because for her, it is the end of the road for her. How she responds, even with a huge chip on her shoulder is great to see. She doesn't lash out at everyone, but it's clear how depressed and unhappy she is with the choices she believes are available. What really kills me in this story is Samantha's perception of what she thinks her father wants and his disappointments. This hits home and feels like a dagger stabbing unexpected into my stomach. This kind of pain she's experiencing is a slow loss of blood which after years of quiet bleeding can really kill her as far as motivation and moving on. Fortunately, Ms. Aicher is able to resolve this conflict in a manner which is the most sought after outcome, even if it isn't always reality.
Is this story really about Dylan or Samantha? Whose journey is it that makes it a game play? It's hard to say. Both journeys of self-discovery and growth bring a balanced story, when blended it becomes a complete picture of how two lovers can make a relationship work. Recommended for romance lovers who enjoy sports.*provided by NetGalley