by Helena Hunting
Summary: With a famous NHL player for a stepbrother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation of many a hockey star. So of course she isn’t interested in legendary team captain Alex Waters or his pretty, beat-up face and rock-hard six-pack abs. When Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes much more than just a hot body with the face to match
My first experience with Helena Hunting was with her Clipped Wings series. Clipped Wings and its sequels are seriously intense books. The hero and heroine are heavy with baggage and their love story is serious and at times painful to read (Not that they aren’t good books, they ARE). So, when I picked up Pucked, honestly, I expected more of the same.
Boy, was I surprised! First, the reason I clicked on Pucked when it showed up on my recommendation list is because Alex, the hero, is a hockey player. I love hockey. Anyone who knows me knows I spend October through June watching the Penguins and Capitals play. My love of the game aside, hockey players are hot. It’s one of the only sports where each and every player must be in good shape. There are no unpleasant surprises when hockey jerseys are removed. Second reason I clicked on this recommendation was because of Helena Hunting. Intense romance featuring a hockey player? Sign me up!
My reading experience has taught me that authors write with the same style each time. This isn’t a criticism, it’s just the truth. The Clipped Wings series was intense and heavy with narrative. Pucked, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. Hunting shows, with Pucked, a fantastic diversity in storytelling.
Pucked (yes, it’s definitely a play on words) is the story of Chicago Blackhawk’s captain, Alex Waters and accountant Violet Hall. Violet comes from a hockey family, her stepfather is a hockey scout and her stepbrother, Buck, has just been traded to the Hawks. The trade puts Violet and Alex on a collision course that explodes with off the ice chemistry and comedy that had me laughing out loud more than I can ever remember while reading a romance novel. It’s a bumpy road to true love for these two, with Alex’s reputation for being a player and Violet’s insecurity and fear of being labeled a puck bunny. Along the way, Violet discovers that some rumors about Alex are true, including the fact that his ENTIRE body is proportionate to the size of say…his very large, very wide…shoulders. To say that said body part becomes a character in itself is putting it mildly. The fact that Violet has no filter regarding this leads to many a hysterical moment.
But, Pucked isn’t all innuendo and crude, inadvertent humor. Alex and Violet’s love story is sweet and sexy, featuring two people who are ready to fall in love. Their insecurities: Alex’s fear of being seen as anything other than a tough guy after years of competitive figure skating and Violet’s concern of being labeled as a hockey groupie becomes their biggest obstacle. Throw in skeptical family members, especially Buck, who believe everything they’ve heard about Alex’s wild reputation, and you’ve got two people fending off body checks while blocking shots in order to find true love.
I enjoyed Pucked immensely, the pacing and dialogue smooth and appropriate for the story, though I felt the sex could’ve been dialed down a bit. As funny as the bawdy humor was, eventually it became an old joke and just shy of silliness. Hunting always backs up her main characters with strong secondary characters, but, aside from Buck, Pucked’s fell short as they seemed forced and a bit cliche.
Overall, Pucked is a fun book, especially as we’re entering summer and looking for light beach reads.