I was provided with an advance reader copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions expressed in this review are mine alone. I received no financial incentives to review this book.
Series: In The Zone #1
Published by Carina Press on April 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: the publisher
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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…
Book catnip checklist for Roz:
Sports romance: CHECK
Hockey player hero: CHECK
Heroine that doesn’t just roll over and play “silly”: CHECK
On The Surface has a lot of the book catnip for me – most of the time, the mere mention of a hockey-playing hero is enough to make me want to read the book (thanks to Rachel Gibson). My love for hockey grew out of a stint living in Canada, so I’m always keen to devour romances in this world. The drama, personalities and theatre of professional sport is a perfect partner for romance fiction – especially when there is a definite knowledge of the sport in question, and trust me, Kate Willoughby definitely gets it right in On The Surface.
So, here are my thoughts about On The Surface:
OK, this book has something really refreshing, that genuinely pleased me to read: this couple actually talk to each other. Maybe things didn’t get brought up straight away (and in this case, not an issue for me), however Tim and Erin actually addressed concerns and issues with each other rather than closing up tighter than a vacuum-sealed bag. A droning issue book , this is not that either.
I loved Erin – she may have been hung up on someone else at the start of the book, but I liked that once she realised things were changing for her, she didn’t hang on and be untrue to herself. Tim has had some rough years, with the death of a child and his trading from the club he’d thought he’d play for forever. Blessedly, he’s not been written as the bitter and twisted old pro who’s falling apart – he is genuinely wanting to be a part of his new team, and to rebuild his personal life.
The physical and emotional chemistry between Tim and Erin is strong, and there are some genuinely emotional scenes within its pages – particularly surrounding Tim’s daughter.
The team-mate relationships are fantastic – it was great that they aren’t just pretend friends because they’re on the same team. I am really hoping that the other two guys get their stories soon. I cannot wait to see what (and who) Kate has in store for them.
If you love sports romance as much as I do, you will enjoy On The Surface.