Double Review: Gold Hockey Series by Elise Faber

BlockedThis is her shot.

Brit has the chance to make history by being the first female goalie to play for an NHL team, the San Francisco Gold. So, when she is introduced to Stefan, the Gold’s captain, she is determinedly not interested.

Stefan is sexy, charming, and has a publicly documented list of conquests a mile long. Brit is unwilling to risk mixing business with pleasure, even when that business is wrapped up in a six-foot-plus, gorgeously muscled package.

When management pushes Brit and Stefan together in an effort to gain good press for the beleaguered team, Brit finds that her carefully calculated disinterest doesn’t mask her body’s desires. The more she falls for Stefan, the more she risks her career.

Will she be able to have it all—a starting position and the heart of the captain? Or will she lose everything? 

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Purchase          My Rating: 3/5 stars

Brit’s life is something of a fairytale.  She’s a talented goalie who has bounced around in the minors for most of career, but recently, the San Francisco Gold have decided to take a chance on the rarest of a rare, a female goalie for an NHL team.  She’s very good on the ice, is eager to learn and improve, and most importantly, become a real member of the team.  Some goals are an uphill battle from the very beginning . . . . .

Brit comes to the Gold with a past, just like everyone else, but as the rare female player in a male-dominated sport, her past is a bit scarier than that of her male teammates.  Assault is the best word for it, and that assault at the hands of another team has left Brit both skittish and determined.  On the skittish side, Brit never allows herself to be cornered or caught in the showers alone and has learned to forcefully defend herself.  On the determined side, she’s hell bent on being accepted for her skills and abilities and willing to put in the monumental amount of work it will take to earn her the respect of her teammates. 

Brit is very much aware of her opportunity and how easily it can be taken away from her.  As a rookie, Brit has very little bargaining power and management knows that which makes Brit easy pickings for their dirty little scheme to bring some much-needed good press to the Gold.  All Brit must do is become a cliché, seduce the hottest and nicest guy on the team, and become the media’s hockey darlings.  Everything about this scheme makes Brit’s skin crawl, but isn’t just her career on the line!

Stefan takes his role as team captain seriously and after the disastrous media storm from the previous season, he’s looking to not only keep his team out of the media (in the bad way) and build a solid team who supports one another and plays the kind of hockey he knows they’re capable of playing.  The addition of Brit to the team is a boon as she’s a solid goalie and always working to improve her skills.  Though she can be prickly, Stefan likes Brit and wants to see her be successful with the Gold.  He also wants to experience some serious sexy time with her, but knows it’s against the rules, both personally and professionally.  Additionally, though no one knows it, Stefan is dealing with a personal matter which keeps him from becoming involved with anyone on a serious level.

Brit’s deal with the devil brings she and Stefan closer together with the surprising result of each genuinely liking the other.  There’s chemistry out the wazoo and as the friendship builds, so does the sexual tension.  Trouble is, both Brit and Stefan have some serious secrets they’re harboring and if they don’t come clean, it won’t matter how much they like and want one another, the trust will be broken and the relationship over before it ever really begins.

The Bottom Line:  Like so many first in series books, there is a great deal of ground to cover, loads of backstory, and generally more than a few characters to introduce.  That is certainly the case with Blocked, and unfortunately, the story and primary characters sort of got bogged down in all the extraneous material.  I wanted to like Blocked far more than I did and I think it has everything to do with being a first in a series book.  Brit and Stefan just weren’t strong enough, for me, to rise above all the other material (that must be added in this type of book!) and dominate the story.  Sure, they were players in the game, but there’s a lot of game going on this read and Brit and Stefan sort of got lost in it.  With all that being said, I’ve never found it fair to judge a series by its first book, unless that book was truly awful 😊  The San Francisco Gold are team which means there a whole host of players just waiting to have their story told.

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Mike Stewart is a bad boy.

Sleeping around. Boozing. Fighting with teammates.

Name a bad behavior and he’s done it—done it so well, in fact, that he almost tanked his career as a starting defensemen for the NHL’s San Francisco Gold.

But Mike is done with all that. He’s starting with a fresh foot forward and putting his past behind him.

That is, until his past quite literally reappears before his eyes.

Sara Jetty is just as beautiful as she was a decade before, but Mike hasn’t seen her since she left for her first Olympics and scored a gold medal in women’s figure skating. Now something has put shadows in her eyes, a familiar type of hurt he is all too well versed in.

This Sara wants nothing to do with him. Their easy friendship is gone and in its place is a hardened woman who’s nothing like the girl from his past.

Still, Mike hasn’t become a top defensemen in the NHL by being afraid of hard work, and he isn’t about to let Sara push him away. Come hell or high water, he’s going to crack her tough outer shell and find the sweet, innocent woman he’s lusted after and loved, in equal measure, for more than ten years.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley          My Rating: 4/5 stars

Mike Stewart has been around hockey his whole life.  Of late, he’s developed quite a nasty reputation for his on-ice antics, especially during practice, and his excessive drinking.  His teammates really can’t stand him, but he’s such a good player, management won’t let him go.  If he doesn’t get it together, he won’t have a friend left in the world . . . . or, at least none from his present life.

Sara Jetty has had a super-crappy life over the last decade or so.  What started out as such a promising career as a figure skater, quickly turned to shame, ridicule, and banishment from the sport she dearly loved following a scandal Sara had nothing to do with.  Unfortunately, perception is everything and with a lot of falsified “proof” Sara was convicted in the court of public opinion which led the figure skating powers that be to banish her from the sport.  The conviction and banishment tore Sara’s world apart and she has spent years trying to put the past behind her and move forward.  That is, until Mike Stewart quite unexpectedly walked back into her life.

As a teenager and young adult, Sara was everything to Mike and he adored spending every morning in the car with her on the way to practice.  Sara was kind and compassionate and understood, better than most, Mike’s determination to make something of himself in the sport he loves.  The two bonded over ice time and injuries, and their unwillingness to compromise their dreams.  Both were driven and determined, but that all fall apart for Sara just as Mike’s dream was becoming a reality.  While he tried to reach out to her, Sara refused to engage and simply disappeared from Mike’s life.  With his unexpected discovery of her in San Francisco, Mike is more determined than ever to find out what really happened to Sara all those years ago, right the wrongs of the past, and make Sara a permanent fixture in his life once again.

With Sara back in his life, Mike is more resolved than ever to behave himself and that attitude is coming through loud and clear with his teammates.  With his professional life getting back on track, it’s time to focus on Sara and the slaying of her demons.  Sara is beyond hesitant to become involved with Mike because she knows he’s going to push her past her comfort zone and force her to face her past, deal with it, and truly move forward with her life.  She has talent beyond the ice rink and if Mike can just build her confidence, he firmly believes they can have an amazing life together.  The biggest hurdle is going to be getting all the dirty details out in the open and dealing with whatever fallout, both personally and socially there may be. 

The Bottom Line:  Backhand definitely doesn’t suffer from the old sophomore and it is a much smoother and more enjoyable read than book one, Blocked!  Mike is carry over from book one and he is so much more likeable in round two than he was in round one!  He was really quite detestable in Blocked 😊  His sensitivity toward Sara and his true and pure desire to not only help her, but be a better man is so endearing.  Mike knows Sara hasn’t really been living her life for the past decadeish, and he wants to see her heal and live the life she deserves.  For Sara, having Mike back in her life is a double-edged sword; he wants what’s best for her, but he’s also going to make her relive some truly painful things before it will all get better.  It’s so going to be worth it!  With their shared history, Mike and Sara’s story really is a combination of a past meets present and second chance at love read and I was all up it from start to finish.  Bring on round three, Elisa Faber!!  I’m ready for some more San Francisco Gold!!!

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