Published by Loveswept on January 10, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Sports
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The so-bad-they’re-good alphas of hockey’s Chicago Aces are back in this emotionally charged novel of sex, love, and second chances from the bestselling author of Top Shelf and the Heller Brothers series. Tanner Bennet hates weddings. They just remind him that he simply isn’t cut out for any kind of healthy, committed relationship—never has been, never will be. After getting rejected by the girl he thought was “the one” all those years ago, he made a huge mistake and married the wrong person. Now that the divorced heartbreaker has reluctantly agreed to be a groomsman for one of his NHL teammates, the last thing he expects is a chance at redemption with the one that got away. After Marc Dupuis of the Chicago Aces hires wedding planner Katelyn Medford, she discovers that her big break comes with a twist: a reunion with her college sweetheart. The way she dumped Tanner still haunts her. Eight years—and three broken engagements—later, Katelyn knows she’ll never have that kind of innocent, wide-eyed passion again. Still, she and Tanner soon generate enough body heat to burn up the sheets. And even with Tanner’s career with the Aces up in the air, Katelyn’s wondering whether the time is right to let him in for real. Praise for Kelly Jamieson and her Aces Hockey series “Kelly Jamieson is my go-to author for hockey romance.”—USA Today bestselling author Jami Davenport “With chemistry that melts the ice, this novel had me rushing into the zone to finish before the whistle blew. I really enjoyed it!”—New York Times bestselling author Toni Aleo, on Icing “A sweet story with plenty of heart about that bad boy you always wanted, who couldn’t wait to have you, too.”—Award-winning author Cecy Robson, on Off Limits “Steamy, sweet, and a whole lot of fun! I loved Major Misconduct!”—USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell Includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
I love it when a second chance romance works out. Even in romance novels, I don’t think they always do. If the original breakup was for a good reason that doesn’t seem to have been resolved, I don’t think the reunion is warranted or a good idea. For Tanner and Katelyn, it worked. Their college breakup made sense, but getting back together made sense, too.
Tanner and Katelyn dated in college, and by all accounts were in love. But the transition from college to the real world didn’t go smoothly; Tanner was offered a hockey contract in a different city and Katelyn couldn’t go with him no matter how much she wanted to. She also felt like she couldn’t tell Tanner why she couldn’t go, so they broke up. It’s been about eight years since they’ve seen each other, and it’s clear immediately that the heat between them hasn’t abated. It was also clear that there were a lot of unresolved feelings for them to work through, and no matter how over the other they thought they were, they were both wrong.
What I really liked about this story is that Tanner and Katelyn don’t do a lot of game playing. Once they decide to try again, which doesn’t take long, they just go for it. They’re both all in right away. They come to each other this time as adults, have the conversations they want and need to have, and make the relationship work. Everything’s not perfect; they still have some issues to work out, specifically the possibility of Tanner being transferred anywhere in the country, and Katelyn just getting her wedding planning business going and not being able to go anywhere. But they talk about the issues and work them out together.
And their issues, their commitment phobias, make sense to me, which is not always the case. Both of Tanner’s parents have been divorced and remarried and divorced and remarried multiple times. He’s been married and divorced himself, so it’s not surprising that he would be gun shy to try again. Katelyn lost the man she really loved, Tanner, and has since then she’s dated and gotten engaged to three different men before breaking off the engagements at various points in the relationship. She realized that she just didn’t love them enough to marry them. And now Tanner is back.
I really liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I appreciated that Tanner and Katelyn were able to have adult conversations and solve their issues, but I also thought it was a little too easy. Yes, you need to have those conversations, but I don’t know that one real conversation would be enough. They had a few “Hey, it’s you, what a small world” conversations when they first ran into each other, flirted a bit, had one real conversation where they laid everything out, and that was it, they were together. I just thought they needed a little more time to get to know each other as the new people they were. It had been eight years since they’d seen each other – they’d graduated college, started careers, made new friends, dated other people, lost parents and friends; they weren’t the same people anymore. Yes, the chemistry was still there, but all that means is that the sex will probably be good. It doesn’t mean a relationship will work. That’s a pretty minor squabble, though, when I enjoyed the rest of it.
The other main reason I liked it but didn’t love it was a little more genre-specific than book specific. One of the reasons I don’t read as many sports romances as I do other sub-genres is the way they tend to divide up the female characters. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions, please don’t flood my comments with the books you’ve read that don’t follow this formula, but they’re overwhelmingly similar. The women are usually divided up into “good girls”, the heroine and her friends, any heroines from previous books in the series, etc. The rest of them, all of the women in the hero’s past, women who we meet in the current book who don’t fit the above criteria, they’re all classified as gold-digging whores who are deemed not worthy of anyone’s time. Before the current heroine, every woman the hero has dated falls into these categories, Tanner’s ex-wife included. None of these heroes ever dated any other “nice girls” or “good girls” that just didn’t work out. It’s the heroine and her status as “good” or a gold-digging whore, there are no other options. The only exception to this, present here in one of the still-unattached men in the series, is the sainted dead-too-soon wife. Usually having died nobly after a long illness, these women are deemed good girls by default, and I suspect that when this man, Max, gets his story, the new heroine will have her work cut out for her living up to the memory of her.
Most of the time, the hero spends his time screwing and discarding as many of these women as he can, because he’s a man and he has his physical needs and testosterone and boys will be boys and whatever, and these women aren’t even worth the effort to learn their names or make them a cup of coffee on their way out the door. Until the heroine comes along. The proverbial “good girl”. The one who is either a virgin or has only had sex with men she was in long-term relationships with. The one whose magic vagina makes her suddenly worthy of not just knowing her name, but maybe even allowing her spend an entire night in the hallowed halls of the hero’s home, which no one else has ever done.
This certainly isn’t specific to sports romances, we see it in all sub-genres, but the nature of an athlete’s life, their built-in fan base makes these books more susceptible to it. Are there women out there who want athletes because of the money and fame? Of course there are. Are they deserving of being discarded like used tissues because of it? No. They’re not deserving of the label “whore” while women who don’t sleep exclusively with athletes are considered “good” or “nice.”
Ultimately, as much as I liked this book, it didn’t do much to change my mind about sports romances. If I had the chance to read the rest of the series, I might, but I probably wouldn’t search it out.