This is the second book in this series. I liked the first one, but said that I wouldn’t seek out the others – except this one went on sale for $1, and that was good enough for me! The big conflict in this one is probably the most realistic I have come across in a contemporary romance. There’s no high drama or tragic backstory, just two people who connect, but are not sure how to make a relationship work.
Scott Walters is a hockey player nearing the end of his career (like 34 years old). He has been struggling with injuries for several years, and has been abusing prescription painkillers to get through it. He doesn’t know if his contract will be renewed and just wants one more year of playing to try and win the Stanley Cup. Rachel Fielding is visiting her brother and meets Scott at a wedding. They immediately hit it off and Rachel decides to have some fun for the weeks she is in Minnesota before heading back to her teaching job in Atlanta. Everything goes well until Rachel discovers Scott’s addiction. Rather than running away, she works with him to get him to rehab and the professional help he needs.
Even after getting clean, Scott cannot give up the idea of winning the Cup and ending his career on that high note. His single-minded pursuit gets in the way of the relationship that he wants with Rachel. While Rachel helps Scott with his addiction and recovery, she is very scared that Scott may rely on her too much to be his backbone for staying clean. And, Scott’s desire to keep playing and causing himself more pain means that he is more likely to relapse. Rachel has a life in Atlanta that is not perfect (she does want a husband and family), but she is overall happy with it and has made it for herself. She is not willing to just throw the life she has built to the side to be with him even if she loves him.
In most romances it feels like there is one person in the wrong; whether they fail to communicate, actually harm the other person, or just have stupid ideas about relationships that they have to get over. I don’t think any of that applied to this book. I didn’t spend any time waiting for one character to grovel to get the other back. No one was wrong – they were just two realistic people who had to work out their own thoughts and desires to get to a happy ending.
After writing this review I went back and increased my letter grade. Having to articulate the good and the bad made me appreciate this book even more.