After being disappointed by the hockey-themed romance Slammed by Victoria Denault, fellow Cannonballer, Emmalita, had some recommendations for me to check out! And this novel Game Play (first in a series called “Power Play” by Lynda Aicher) was definitely an improvement, and I liked the relationship in this one a lot more. But I was still very frustrated by a lot of aspects: the lack of communicating their feelings clearly and talking about things! Is this a common romance trope? Just talk to one another! (I say this as I am the worst for hiding how I’m feeling at times…)
The setup for Game Play is a little meet-cute banter between Dylan Rylie, a defenseman looking to get an extended contract on a local NHL team as his career begins, and Sam Yates, a star player on the US women’s hockey team who is finding her hockey career coming to an end. The two have some great banter and competition between one another, and I totally love that dynamic. After what is supposed to be a one-night-only thing, however, the two are torn between staying apart and letting their relationship grow, as Sam faces moving on to a new stage of her life in a new city.
There is some engaging wrestling between the idea of forging a new path and doing what is expected, following your dreams or finding new ones, and also some great commentary on the differences between opportunity in womens vs mens sports (though it is acknowledged that things are changing in some regards). And for the most part I like the dynamic between Dylan and Sam, as they both respect one another, their skills, and pretty much view each other as equals in all things.
But the problem again is all the hot and cold, and rapidly shifting aspects of their relationship without much discussion or sharing of what’s going on. Sure, certain unexpected events can change things rapidly, but it almost felt inorganic how this happened. It made me wonder where the consistency was in the characters at times. I mean, I know I can be chaotic and unpredictable at times, but it made me a little confused. Oh, and the amount of times it mentioned the characters wetting their lips/licking their lips was totally off the wall in my opinion.
All that said, however, this was a pretty solid hockey-themed romance. Not too many surprises to be had, and some frustration on my part at understanding the characters and their motivations along the way, but really not too shabby in the end.