This is the first book in the Brooklyn Bruisers series, and came out Fall 2016. Bowen has stuck with hockey, but moved on to the NHL from college stories. I never finished the Ivy Years series, but apparently this hero is the older brother of the hero in The Fifteenth Minute (which I will NEVER read based on the reviews and BethEllen’s warnings).
Georgia Worthington is the interim PR head for the Brooklyn Bruisers, an NHL team. On the same day that it is announced that Georgia’s father will be the new head coach of the team she also finds out that her high school boyfriend, Leo Trevi, has been picked up from the minors. They reconnect over the course of the book. Georgia and Leo have never stopped loving each other and are both trying to find their footing in their chosen careers. This is a really low plot book.
I grade books on a B curve. You can go up or down pretty easily, but I’m a generous grader and start everyone at a solid B. (Except for maybe Courtney Milan, but I think she’s up to the challenge of the A curve). This book barely wavered from the B either up or down. Solid and simple the whole way through. So, I’m just going to highlight a couple of things that bothered me. Please keep in mind that overall it was a good enough experience, but I must air my quibbles to move on.
In the six years they have been apart Leo has dated a bunch of girls, but as his brother points out, they were all with him because he was a hockey star and they wanted that part of him. Leo seems shocked by this statement, but then realizes his brother was right when he and Georgia get back together. I’m not saying 24 year old men are necessarily the most introspective group when presented with beautiful women throwing themselves at them, but I am seriously annoyed with Leo over this. He certainly *could* have dated women that actually cared about him during that time – he actively chose not to. It just smacks of the ‘all women but the heroine are sluts’ thing that appears too often in these books. Call me sheltered, but I had never heard of the term Puck Bunny (or Badge Bunny, or Buckle Bunny, etc….) before reading romance novels. This is NOT the type of talk that appears in my active sports watching/fandom life.
At one point in the book Leo says to Georgia, “I think we could have saved ourselves a lot of pain if we’d talked it through”. THIS! This basically sums up everything about the conflict in the book. This book is the one that made me finally acknowledge that second chance romance is just not my preferred flavor. There was either 1. a very good reason that the couple broke up in the first place, which leaves a very large hurdle for them to believable get over, or 2. the reason was stupid, so why did they even break up in the first place? In this book I’m torn. They were 18 and the heroine went through some trauma, and they had a lot of emotions to work out, but a LOT of things could have just been solved by talking it out. And I’m just not sure that they could have believably matured enough and found themselves by the age of 24 – I know I hadn’t. But, EVEN IF all that works here, I was really uncomfortable with the resolution. It came down to LEO having to admit how the attack on Georgia affected him, and Georgia comforting him. WHAT?! I’m not denying that that is a real thing, but it just felt really, really weird to focus on the male partner’s experience of the rape. I liked Georgia’s matter of fact take on her life and the ways she dealt with the aftermath of the attack, but the stuff with Leo and her dad at the end bugged me.
While I was not overwhelmed by this story, and Bowen has disappointed me some recently (True North series), I’ve heard great things about the second book in the series – it just came out this week – and I have my hold in at the library. The hero is introduced in this book with some tiny glimpses of the heroine, and I’m intrigued. There is also definitely a set up for a future romance between the owner of the team and Georgia’s friend, but it’s not the subject of either the second or third book, so I’m hoping that she will work in a novella or add on to the series.