Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Off the Ice by Julie Cross

Off the Ice by Julie Cross

Series: Juniper Falls #1

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports

Release Date: February 28, 2017

Format: eARC

Source: Entangled Publishing

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


Synopsis

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.


My Thoughts

Claire has returned home from college to help the family business while her father recuperates from a life-threatening illness. Assuming staggering responsibilities, helping run the business and dealing with financial debt, Claire is dealing with a lot. But spending time with Tate, the guy she had previously only thought of as her best friend's younger brother, helps her step away from the responsibilities and have something just for herself.

Tate is dealing with school, an ex-girlfriend, a fractured relationship with his father, and he's just been named the starting goalie for his team. The pressure is intense and he is floundering. He's had feelings for Claire for years and with her back at home he finds himself seeking her out again and again. When little else in his life is making sense, Claire seems to be the one thing that does.

Off the Ice started a bit rocky for me. I felt like some things weren't explained well and I was a little murky on details (and readers like me with zero hockey knowledge are at a bit of a disadvantage). Even so, I was quickly invested in the story which was made easy with such genuinely likable main characters. Both Claire and Tate were mature young adults with a lot on their shoulders. They had great chemistry (those kissing scenes - whoa, baby!) and I loved their honesty and openness with each other. (There is one sex scene that is handled perfectly, with tenderness and humor and just felt so genuine.) These were characters that truly had each other's best interest at heart and were incredibly supportive of one another.

There were a lot of themes touched on within the novel (some could argue perhaps too many) and covered the extreme pressure in competitive sports, illness of a parent, abuse, friendship, and the transition into young adulthood. Even with so much going on I never felt anything was glossed over or treated as a cliché. Instead, Cross managed to create complex main characters that were anything but cookie cutter. Not only were Claire and (the oh-so-swoony) Tate well developed but there was also a full cast of secondary characters that made for a richer story. (Is it too early to hope that the next Juniper Falls book focuses on Tate's best friend, Leo?)

Off the Ice is a solid mature YA contemporary romance filled with emotional topics and tempered with all the romance of first love. I recommend this one to fans of YA contemporary and sports romance and I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series. 

3.5/5 STARS

Note: This title was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
 


13 comments:

  1. I'm glad to see you ended up enjoying this one. I skimmed the beginning, and it seemed a bit rocky to me, too, but I need to dive into it before I make a decision.

    Great review.

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    1. Thanks Angie. I'm glad I stuck with it. Things really came together and I was completely invested by the halfway point (if not before). Definitely worth the read!

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  2. I do like YA sports romances but hate when a book feels like it takes on too much. Glad you enjoyed this. Great review!

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    1. Thanks Grace. Yeah, it was straddling that line of *almost* being too much but in the end I really enjoyed it.

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    1. I've been on the fence about this book since I wasn't a big fan of the author's other work but I'm glad you enjoyed this one friend!!

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    2. I've only read one by her (Third Degree) and really liked it so I was excited for this one. It wasn't a 5 star read or anything but I still enjoyed it. I'll definitely continue with the series.

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  4. Sounds like a cute read! But kind of disconcerted that book #1 started off without clear details on things. But glad it got better for you! ~Aleen

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    1. It definitely picked up after the rocky start. And I'm excited for the next book! :)

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  5. I am a little disappointed about the reviews coming in about this book, but I get it. I kind of wanted to read now, now I am a bit wary. It sounds a bit too dramatic as well, doesn't it?

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    1. It does seem like a lot of the reviews are kind of lukewarm but I ended up enjoying it. There was a lot going on but it never felt overly dramatic to me. Hope you'll enjoy it if you decide to give it a try!

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  6. I actually like the sound of this one, Tanya. It's wonderful that the MC's were so well developed and I like the fact that Cross took on so many tough topics, even if it could be argued there were too many. ;) Sometimes kids (late teens) have a lot on their plate and it sounds as though this story was realistically done. The lack of details about certain things is too bad but it kinda seems like it didn't hurt the overall story too much. I'll have to see if my library carries it. :)

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    1. I definitely think it's worth the read, Brandee. I'm wondering if my review came across too harsh but most the other comments seem to think I didn't like it. I really did, though. No, it wasn't perfect, but it was very good read and I really got invested in the characters. And you're right, often times teenager have a lot going on in their lives so it's not like it was unrealistic. I hope your library has it.

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