Read my review of the first book in the On the Board series, Rookie Mistake.
I generally try to stay away from overt cliches in my book reviews, but sometimes I can’t resist a few when I’m taking notes to myself as I read. This book is far from cliché, but the emotional impact hits just right in two ways I can’t help sharing here: (1) These guys don’t have issues, they have volumes, and (2) This isn’t a romance arc, it’s a roller coaster. Zabo and Witt were already two of my favorite authors, and this book made the wait for its release more than worth it
This book often calls back to events in the first of the series, but that is because of the close friendships between the main characters, not because the stories are directly connected. The possibility of a relationship blooming between Elias and Nisha, stalwart allies in Rookie Mistake, was heavily teased, but early revelations in Scoreless Game make circumstances much more complicated. It’s easy to forgive that such best friends would assume that they already know what the other person wants, but then this book dives head-first into “idiots in love” territory when said best friends then proceed to Not Talk About It, to the detriment of everyone involved.
The aforementioned roller coaster that follows puts both main characters through the wringer. It’s not an easy ride, and while I predicted one fairly epic twist, that doesn’t mean I was happy about the pain it involved for these men. The events that follow put the heat level firmly in the slow burn category, but it is absolutely worth it for the eventual resolution. I especially appreciated the excellent representation and interrogation of Elias’ personal facet of the asexuality spectrum, which always respected his perspective without sacrificing some pretty explosive steam when appropriate.
The drama of this romance as a combination of personal and interpersonal conflict for Elias and Nisha makes a completely separate external plot superfluous, especially for characters as wholly entwined with their day jobs as professional athletes tend to be. Witt and Zabo’s love of hockey does shine through, especially in on-page games that are exciting even for readers like me who don’t know much about the sport. Though this book wasn’t necessarily an easy story, I know that this series will eventually make it to re-read status for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a hockey romance that is as much about the characters and romance as it is about the heart of this game.