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Out of the Game by Kate Willoughby

Out of the GameWhy I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Alex Sullivan may be the San Diego Barracudas’ resident playboy, but he hasn’t been able to forget the woman who kissed him like her life depended on it ten months ago. When he sees her again at a teammate’s wedding, he can’t think of anything but spending more time with her. Preferably naked.

Claire Marzano lost years catering to an overbearing husband, and she’s not going to answer to anyone ever again. A hot fling is just what she needs to get back in the game, and that’s exactly what sexy Alex offers—one wild long weekend away, with no promises or obligations.

But that one weekend changes everything. Despite knowing full well Alex isn’t the kind to ever commit, Claire is falling for him. And Alex secretly imagines a future with his strong, smart “accidental girlfriend.” Until a surprise announcement and an on-ice accident threaten to derail everything…or cause Alex to finally ditch his old ways and become the man Claire needs him to be.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I really enjoy this author’s writing voice and I especially like the way she writes guys and the banter between the team mates. I liked On The Surface and loved Across the Line so I had high hopes for Out of the Game. More so because I liked Alex Sullivan in the earlier stories.  He’s a charming rogue type character.  A bit of a manslut but not in a cheaty way. I don’t have a problem with someone who wants to have lots of casual sex as long as they’re not making promises they can’t or don’t keep.  If both parties are on the same page, it’s all good IMO.  There is something great about watching a guy like this fall for “the One” and I was looking forward to what Ms. Willoughby would do with it.  It had such a promising start but it went off the rails for me about halfway in and never quite recovered.

Across the Line by Kate Willoughby

across the lineWhy I read it:  This is one from my own TBR.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Calder Griffin needs to get back in shape. Sidelined last season by a knee injury, he’s determined to return to the San Diego Barracudas and play the best hockey of his career. This might even be the year he gets out of his talented older brother’s shadow.

For months, Becca Chen has poured her energy into Cups, the restaurant she owns, desperate to prove to her parents that she can succeed in the career of her choice, not theirs. But after she spends a five-hour plane ride flirting with charming, magic-on-the-ice Calder, she tells herself she needs a fling.

Becca and Calder can’t keep their hands off each other, but they know the relationship can’t last. They live on opposite coasts, and they’re both too devoted to their careers. All they have to do is prevent their feelings from crossing the line from lust to love…

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I enjoyed On the Surface, the first book in the In the Zone series very much so I really have no excuse for taking so long to buy and read this one.  Especially because it turns out, I pretty much lapped this one up with a spoon.

On the Surface by Kate Willoughby

OntheSurfaceWhy I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  NHL player Tim Hollander lost his temper one time and threw a water bottle at an abusive fan. After “Bottlegate,” he’s traded to the San Diego Barracudas, where he’ll need to keep the bad publicity to a minimum while proving he can still compete with the younger guys on the ice.

Erin Collier is a pediatric nurse who’s never seen a hockey game, but gets in line for Tim’s autograph at a PR event in hopes of impressing the doctor she has a crush on. When an obnoxious fan gets pushy toward Erin, Tim rushes to defend the pretty stranger, throwing a punch in the process.

Grateful for the rescue, Erin agrees to stand by Tim during the resulting press conference and host him at a hospital charity event. Their chemistry is palpable, and soon their lives are intertwined. But Erin doubts a hockey player is capable of anything resembling a real relationship. And if Tim can’t get her to see beyond what’s on the surface, they’ll never last longer than a single season…

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  As an Australian, I have only a rudimentary knowledge of ice hockey.  I have a better idea after reading this book but I still don’t really know what a “line” is.  For what it’s worth (and I realise, it can’t be much) the hockey information in the book sounded authentic and, for the most part, it was delivered in a way that didn’t feel too didactic.  The Ice Hockey for Dummies thing was a nice touch.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit – it was really only toward the end where things lost their lustre just a little for me.  I’m not sure if it was because maybe the book felt a little too long, or whether it was the conflict kind of fizzling out there for a while.  Or maybe I would have liked more time for the conflict to resolve – it felt a little quick to me.  I liked On the Surface very much – Tim is really sweet guy – not perfect – but he falls for Erin really quickly and I liked watching him navigate those waters.

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