I should state for the record that my mom grew up in Queens, but my best friend lives in Brooklyn, so I can’t really choose sides between the Sea Dogs or the Phantoms. Two players from rival teams falling in love seems a bit cliché, except the fact that Tommy and Vicki aren’t on the same team is almost incidental to their interactions and rivalry. Their conflict stems from a genuine accident on Tommy’s part that Vicki continues to question even when the rest of the individuals involved have assured him it’s a non-issue. However, the non-sexy sparks between them fly when they’re forced together for a promotional event.
For a while, those sparks combust into some truly epic hate sex. Both men probably expect the novelty to wear off, and then they’ll be done with each other, but obviously, that doesn’t quite happen. Their private encounters continue, but the dynamic shifts until it’s almost something like a begrudging friendship. Sometimes people experiencing emotions is adorable, and Lindsey and Vivancos hit the perfect notes as Vicki and Tommy care for each other in their own way throughout the hockey season.
Vicki experiences much more of an internal character arc than Tommy, which is probably a function of the character’s different ages (though that age gap is not an active component of this story). It’s hard to feel sorry for a professional sports player making millions. The authors once again engage the right story points and emotions so that Vicki’s evolution is much less “poor little rich guy” and more an active recovery from years of subtle emotional trauma.
Between this book and the prequel novella, I’m thoroughly hooked on this series. Hey, remember when I didn’t have any interest in sports romances? Apparently, hockey is the exception, and I’m not mad about it if some of my favorite writers keep providing the stories.