Series: Cold Fury Hockey #4
Published by Loveswept on September 8th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Source: Netgalley, Tasty Book Tours
The rugged men of the Carolina Cold Fury hockey team are winning hearts once again in another scorching novel from New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett.
The stakes have never been higher for Carolina Cold Fury goalie Ryker Evans. With his contract running out, he’s got a year left to prove he’s still at the top of his game. And since his wife left him, Ryker has been balancing life as a pro-hockey star and a single parent to two daughters. Management is waiting for him to screw up. The fans are ready to pounce. Everybody’s taking dirty shots—except for the fiery redhead whose faith in Ryker gives him a fresh start.
As the league’s only female general manager, Gray Brannon has learned not to mix business with pleasure. And yet even this tough, talented career woman can’t help breaking her own rules as she gives Ryker everything she’s got. She hopes their hot streak will last forever, but with Ryker’s conniving ex plotting to reclaim her man, the pressure’s on Gray to step up and save a tender new love before it’s too late.
I love this series. It’s so much fun. We met Ryker in the last book when he was picked up by the Carolina Cold Fury. He was newly separated from his wife, and had just become the primary caregiver to his two young daughters. He was traded by his previous team after he punched the teammate who his wife had cheated on him with. He’s one of the older team members, nearer the end of his career than the beginning. His first game last season, a playoff game, did not go well, and he’s been trying like hell to gain the trust and respect of his team ever since.
Gray Brannon is the first, and so far only, female GM of a professional hockey team. Women are hardly taken seriously in any capacity in professional sports, especially not in executive roles, and this one is no different. Some of the players don’t care as long as they win, some are withholding judgement until they see how she does, and some are outright hostile and disgusting toward her. As a woman, the absolute last thing she can do while she’s trying to be taken seriously is get involved with one of the players on her team, but that’s exactly what she does. Not only is she a woman, she’s only thirty-one, making her one of the youngest GMs in the league, too.
Gray and Ryker were able to keep their secret a lot longer than I thought they would be. In today’s world, there are hardly any celebrities who can keep anything secret, and as the first female GM in the NHL, if not in all of professional sports, there would have been no end of tabloids trying to dig up dirt on her. Especially because she got the position after her father, the team’s owner appointed her to it. Despite her impressive background, education, and the fact that she played on two Olympic hockey teams, she’s still struggling to be accepted. As anyone who’s ever been a woman anywhere has had to do.
I usually struggle with books where the main couple is in a boss-employee relationship. But once Gray and Ryker talked about it, I realized that she didn’t have a lot to do with his direct employment. She did recruit him to the team when she was still the lead scout, but nothing happened with them then. Once he was in place on the team, as GM, she didn’t really have a lot to do with him directly. The coach is in charge of deciding who play when and who gets what roster spots, and the entire executive team is in on trades and releases, so it wasn’t as big a deal as I was worried it would be. It still couldn’t get out that they were dating, though.
Individually, they were a little uneven. I really liked Ryker. I loved seeing him with his daughters. He put them above everything else, absolutely everything, even his career and his developing relationship with Gray. He’s a great dad. He was even welcoming to his almost ex-wife, Hensley, not wanting to expose the girls to hostility and fighting. The added drama with Hensley was a little predictable, but it didn’t take too long to get through.
Gray was a little less developed. I know that she’s incredibly smart, gorgeous, sexy, and takes no shit from anyone, but primarily because we were told that rather than seeing it. We mainly see her through Ryker’s eyes, and he sees her that way. We spent time with her, but she wasn’t really doing much besides musing about Ryker or working. There wasn’t anything like Ryker’s time with his daughters to make her real and humanize her.
This was a solid entry into the Cold Fury Hockey series. I think Alex is still my favorite, but that’s because I love a damaged hero. I don’t know if there will be any more in the series or not, but if there are, I will read them. I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about her other series, too, so I may try some of those out. This can be read as a standalone, but the couples from the previous books do tend to show up, so it wouldn’t hurt to read them in order. But definitely read them.