Offside is a contemporary romance featuring triplet sisters facing real world problems in a small town. Domestic reality elements aren’t something I particularly look for in a book, though the billionaires aren’t either because, apparently, there is no pleasing me, but Juliana Stone provides a middling romance with some above average charm and a wry, realistic sounding voice.
“But Billie… she had him wanting to circle the room and piss in all the corners like a dog marking his territory. What the hell was up with that?”
From Amazon: When hockey phenom Billie-Jo Barker returns home and decides to play in the local Friday night hockey league, all hell breaks loose. Not because Billie’s talent is in question, but because Billie is a woman. And though these are modern times, some of the local guys still have a problem letting a girl into their ‘men’s club.’ Soon, Billie is at the center of a small town battle of the sexes, with everyone choosing sides. Her sisters. The townsfolk. Her friends. And yet, the only person whose opinion she cares about doesn’t seem to care much at all. Logan Forest, the man who broke her heart when she was eighteen and the man she now shares the bench with ever Friday night.
Offside moves along with Logan and Billie finding their connection and is complicated by a Wrong Body in the Dark subplot and her familial relationships. In case it is something you wish to avoid in your escapism, please note that Billie’s father is sliding into dementia and it takes a risky and distressing turn. I admit I don’t really want to watch his continued descent in the books that follow for Billie’s two sisters. Nor was the world, however natural the writing, compelling enough for me to return to.
The novel contains the casual sexism that is found in so many of these books: “Most women he knew – or at least the ones he’d dated – spent every minute evaluating their performance, tilting their head just so…”. What sets the heroine apart in these stories does not need to be that she is better or less a sexist female stereotype than the women around her. It is the responsibility of the author to create the unique connection that sets the heroine apart. It only needs to be her. He wants her. Stone does acknowledge that factor, but/and the casual sexism is unnecessary and annoying.
I have added the putting other women down to raise the heroine up on my list of Romance Novel Tropes That Need to Be Put Out of Their Misery.