I received this book for free from Avon in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Head Coach by Lia Riley
Published by Avon on November 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Neve Angel’s life is all work and no play, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. One of Denver’s top sports reporters, she's fought hard to make it in a male-dominated world, and she won’t back down from a fight with anyone–not even the Hellions’ gruff head coach, Tor Gunnar. Her hostile relationship with the icy Scandinavian is the stuff of local legend.
Tor Gunnar hates dealing with the media; at best, they are a nuisance and at worst, a distraction. And no one distracts him more than the scrappy, sexy reporter who gets him hot under the collar. When he wins a not-so-friendly bet with Neve, he decides it’s high time they either kiss or kill each other, and invites her as a date to an out-of-town wedding.
But what happens when enemies become lovers? Will they be able to smother their sizzling attraction, or is it time to start playing for keeps?
I haven’t read anything by Lia Riley before, but I really liked this one and would check out her backlist. This was one of the rare stories I thought worked as a novella instead of a novel. Neve and Tor had the kind of fun enemies-to-lovers relationship that’s so much fun to watch.
Tor Gunnar (which…. that’s not a great name. It’s like Lia Riley spun a “hockey name generator” and that’s what came out) and Neve Angel have just the type of adversarial relationship you’d expect from a head coach and a nosy reporter. They can’t stand each other, as we see when Tor tells a bunch of reporters that he’s “…not into cold fish. If I got off on dick freeze, I’d fuck a penguin.”
Neve, who already suffers from a whole host of body issues, is hurt by this proclamation and embarks on a quest to improve herself, which led to taking a pole dancing class, which was great. A few drinks followed by a silly pool bet, and Neve has to be Tor’s date to his ex-wife’s wedding. Tor’s ex, Maddy, was lovely. I was so happy to see an ex who’s not a shrill, screeching harpy. She and Tor tried, it didn’t work out for a lot of reasons, and they divorced. They share custody of their daughter and genuinely seem to put her first. he’s going to the wedding because his daughter wants him to, and that’s important to Tor. That doesn’t mean he wants to go solo, though. He was going to take his sister, but she had a skiing accident and couldn’t go, so he ropes Neve into it.
This story moved along at a pretty fast pace, but because of its length, it had to. Tor and Neve quickly go from enemies to reluctant friends to lovers, despite Neve’s apprehension. She realizes, correctly, that as a hockey reporter she can’t have a relationship with one of the head coaches without being accused of impropriety, but even though she’s genuinely concerned about that, she doesn’t get too angsty over it. Tor is extremely sweet, doing his best to make Neve realize how attracted to her he is and to help her get past some of her body and self-esteem issues.
This was cute, even if the solution to Neve’s problem did seemingly come out of nowhere. But overall, Lia Riley does a good job with a format that confounds a lot of authors, and terrible cover aside, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one.