After my wife died from a rare form of cancer, sex was the last thing on my mind. Same with hockey, the other love of my life. Now, after fifteen months of eating too much, drinking too much, and generally just feeling sorry for myself, I’m facing a steep uphill battle to get my ass in shape and play my way back onto the Chicago Aces.
So I’m not looking for a relationship. Just sex. Yeah, I know how that makes me sound. But the truth is, I’ll never love another woman the way I loved my wife. When I meet a sexy bridesmaid at my teammate’s wedding, I decide to scratch that itch. A fling with Kendra Armstrong in her posh hotel room could be just what the trainer ordered.
Not only is Kendra smokin’ hot, she’s dynamite in bed—one of the perks of being a sex toy designer. Since she lives in New York anyway, we agree to keep things casual, no strings attached. The arrangement is perfect . . . until one of us falls in love. And it’s not me.
It’s always so much fun to return to Chicago and Kelly Jamieson’s Chicago Aces series. Jamieson is by far the best hockey romance author in the business (trust me, I’ve read a lot of hockey romances). I waited not-so-patiently for Max Hall’s story, but it was worth the wait.
I loved that Jamieson chose to tell this story just from Max’s point of view, allowing readers to really grasp the grief and uncertainty that Max was experiencing. Followers of the Aces series have watched Max experience the illness and death of his wife, our hearts breaking alongside of him as the series progressed. The fact that this scenario played out in real life with Ottawa Senators goalie, Craig Anderson taking time off to be with his wife during her battle with cancer (which a much happier ending!!) only added to the sorrow I felt. But, Max’s journey from grieving widower to a HEA is handled perfectly.
Despite being beyond ready for Slap Shot, it still took me by surprise. It was an odd, slow burn story even though Max and Kendra don’t waste much time getting to know each other intimately. I enjoyed them together from the start; their easy banter and off the charts chemistry was hard not to like. It’s clear that Max can’t resist Kendra, though he doesn’t hesitate to lie to himself about where their “flirtationship” is going.
Max is focused on one thing only: getting his slot back on the Aces. The first half of the book is an entertaining textbook on preseason training that this hockey fan soaked up like a sponge. It was easy for me to imagine my favorite players going through this experience. More so, it allowed me to understand them and their dedication to their sport.
Convinced this is all he needs to be happy, he ignores his growing feelings for Kendra. Having Max in my head for 200+ pages let me really get to know him. Even when I knew he was falling in love, I also found myself nodding my head as he convinced himself that being open to love was a bad idea. Meanwhile, Kendra really comes to life through Max’s eyes.
Here’s my little secret: I didn’t really like her when the book started. She seemed like a cliché feminist that I didn’t want to read about. But, Jamieson wrote these two characters with such incredible depth that as they moved towards their HEA I was a borderline emotional wreck. Kendra… she’s just amazing. While I saw her initially as a somewhat uptight business woman, she’s really kind of adorable. She is a successful business woman, but she’s also quirky and caring and she dances around the house and she develops sex toys. She also grew up with a mom who has narcissistic personality disorder and suffered emotionally for it. That she needed Max as much as he needed her was a wonderful surprise and fantastic storytelling.
Truthfully, Kelly Jamieson knocked it out of the park with Slap Shot. It has all the emotional depth that I anticipated and it’s full of smart hockey, on and off the ice. And, oh! If you’re a fan of Jamieson’s Bayard Hockey series, look for some fun crossovers!
4.5 stars for Slap Shot. Heat level: 4
I received a copy of Slap Shot from NetGalley and Loveswept in exchange for honest feedback.
Slap Shot was published in October 2017 by Loveswept.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kelly Jamieson is a USA Today bestselling author of over thirty-five romance novels and novellas. She writes the kind of books she loves to read–sexy romance with heat, humor and emotion. Her writing has been described as “emotionally complex”, “sweet and satisfying” and “blisteringly sexy”. She likes coffee (black), wine (mostly white) and shoes (high!). She also loves watching hockey. She is the author of the popular Heller Brothers Hockey series and the Rule of Three trilogy. Visit her website at www.kellyjamieson.com or contact her at email@example.com.