(Aces Hockey #2)
Author: Kelly Jamison
Date of Publication: April 19th, 2016
Publisher: Loveswept/Random House
Rating: 4 Stars
Duncan Armstrong may be an NHL star, but he’s a country boy at heart. His ultimate fantasy is going home with the Stanley Cup, not a gold-digging airhead who aspires to be a trophy wife and nothing more. Newly single and hoping to enjoy a night out with his teammates, he ends up hitting it off with a down-to-earth waitress who’s a complete breath of fresh air—until Duncan learns that she’s a part-time model. He tries to forget about her, but their sizzling chemistry has him coming back for more.
Amber is working hard to put herself through school, and has zero interest in dating a professional athlete. She’s seen firsthand how fame and fortune can mess with their heads—her father’s brilliant football career ended in a firestorm of addiction and infidelity. So Duncan’s attentions immediately have her on the defensive. Still, there’s something different about him. And once she stops trying to freeze him out, irresistible temptation turns into all-consuming passion. -Goodreads
Icing, the second full-length book in the Aces Hockey series, is definitely a read worthy of the sweeter connotations of its title. Between the immediate affability of leading man, Duncan Armstrong, and the honest independence of leading lady, Amber Johnson. This book is as irresistible as funnel cake at a County Fair.
Fresh from a break up with his gold digging, social climbing, model, girlfriend. The last thing that the charming, boy next door, of the Chicago Aces professional hockey team needs is another woman in his life. But thanks to a night spent attempting to drown his sorrows at the bar owned by his friend and teammate, Jared Rupp...he may have found just that.
Likewise, the last thing that Amber Johnson needs in her life is more complication. Between her newest job as a waitress at the Sin Bin, finishing college, and her second job as a model; the last thing that it seems this uber busy beauty has time for is a boyfriend.
Least of all the pampered, privileged, and very public Duncan Armstrong.
Or does she?
Lines are drawn very early on in this romance. Anti-relationship - 1. Relationship - 0.
So readers know from the start that this is going to be an "I hate you til you make me love you" book.
What differs from the norm with this story, as opposed to others like it?
The fact that for the most part, it is Duncan, who acts as the more emotionally available of the two. Protecting his still smarting heart, not due to the trauma of a long festering wound from his past. But from the very tough lesson taught by his most recent split.
Who does that leave to save and heal?
You guessed it!
The trouble with this...
Amber's walls and defenses manifest themselves in a "independence or nothing" stance that causes poor Duncan to spend most of his time wondering if he should just hop on his white horse (or in this knight's case, into his new Range Rover) and speed off into the sunset. While this will send the inner feminists in most readers into heartfelt choruses of I Am Woman...Hear Me Roar. There are those moments where you just want to say, "Oh, just get over yourself, and take the goddamned gift already!"
The one thing that our independent lady doesn't have a problem accepting from her leading man is SEX.
And boy...does she accept a lot of it!
While body checking may be par for the course on the ice. Checking out each other's bodies is definitely part of the romantic game being played between Amber and Duncan everywhere else.
In fact, this seems to be the only time when these two can agree on who is allowed to give what to whom.
The bed sport that these two engage in is the perfect blend of passion and emotion. The place where all the walls disappear, leaving only the truths of feeling and connection.
Supporting players get a lot of time in the spotlight in this story as well. In most cases, seeing time in either the back story involving Amber's mother or father, or a subplot involving a teammate. A handy save by the author, that keeps interest high and the story on the move.
Overall, this book is as close to a win/win situation as one can get in the romance + sports + drama = good reading equation. With the only exception being a very unnecessary attempt to add waves to Amber and Duncan's finally wave free pond. Because said disturbances happen at a time way past that at which waves of any kind should occur. This otherwise stellar read falls just shy of that 5 star mark.
Reviewer's Note: Icing is book 2 in the Aces Hockey companion series. Though it is highly suggested that this book be read as part of its intended series.
*I received this book in exchange for the honest review provided. All opinions expressed herein are my own, and have in no way been influenced by the publisher or its agents.
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