Saturday, March 4, 2017

Just Another Season

Just Another Season (The Blizzard Chronicles) by [Longley, Avery J.]

Just Another Season (Blizzard Chronicles #1)- Avery Longley
Release Date: March 15, 2017

Rating (out of 5):

Warning: Potential Spoilers 

Synopsis: Emma is just another sports reporter...except she hates sports. Ryan is just another hockey goalie...except an injury has his career in doubt. What happens when these two are forced to live with each other over the course of the year? Will it simply be Just Another Season or will sparks fly?


Just Another Season, the first book published by Avery Longley, follows New Englander Emma Connelly, newly minted journalist who ends up as the sports reporter for The Kansas City Times in Missouri.  Emma knows nothing about sports, doesn't care much about sports, but is determined to do the best she can at the job.  New best friends Devin and Gabi Malone pitch in to teach her what they can and get her ready to report on the newest minor league ice hockey team, the Blizzard.  Turns out they have a little insider help- Gabi's brother and cousin, Ryan and Luke Perrault, have just been signed to the team!  What starts out as a rocky relationship slowly evolves into friendship with the Perrault boys and when goalie Ryan is injured, Emma agrees to let him stay with her in her ground level apartment.  Romantic feelings develop.  This causes some problems with teammate Trent, who might have feelings for Emma and had no idea how to act on them when he had the chance, but now is jealous.  Further complicating matters is that Ryan is also attracted to Trent, who is also attracted to him.  Sparks fly but will they light fireworks or burn things down?

I'm starting this review off with a warning: when you get towards the end of the book and start worrying about how will everything get resolved by the last page: it won't.  While the ending isn't a cliffhanger, it is definitely a "to be continued".  Though Longely's next book Too Many Men will be released April 2017, so we won't have long between installments.

Just Another Season is a hockey player romance that tackles some tough issues.  Ryan and Trent both struggle with their sexuality, and with how society will view them if they come out.  Athletes are the macho men of society and hockey players are the toughest of athletes- will their friends, families, teammates, and Emma still see them as "real" men if they admit to being bisexual? What does it mean to be a "real" man? There's a great scene late in the book where a player gets nasty with Ryan about his sexuality and the team and coach stand with Ryan to send a message: a person's sexuality is their own business, doesn't affect how they play hockey, and hate and intolerance have no place with the Blizzards.  When the threat comes that Ryan's sexuality might go public, you get the interesting "how do we get ahead of this and focus on the message of tolerance and support" spin.  As Emma points out, currently no hockey players have come out as part of the LGBTQ community.  By the end of Season nothing has reached the public at large, but you get the feeling it's only a matter of time.  It will be interesting to see how Longley envisions the outcome.

Season is a romance where none of the main characters seem to have enough experience with relationships to avoid making plenty of classic relationship mistakes- lying, avoiding tough issues, and running away from problems being top of the list.  Ryan, Emma, and Trent all have their moments of cowardice and the reader has to hope that they will learn from their mistakes as they get to Too Many Men.     

A sports reporter who doesn't know a baseball from a hockey puck and ends up romantically entangled with hockey players is a great premise.  The story drags occasionally, for the most part we don't get much depth on any of the characters, and there are some things that flip from one extreme to another for no discernible reason (Luke is a complete jerk when we first meet him, pegging Emma as a "puck bunny" before they are even introduced, complains without evidence that she's just out to bag as many hockey players as she can, then turns into a reasonably decent guy who's bedroom is a revolving door for women).  But overall a good story with some memorable scenes, like the rather emotionally touching and well written ending to the book.   It will be interesting to watch Longley develop as a writer and grow into her full potential.

Just Another Season and Avery Longley show promise to develop into a series (and writer) that is far from "just another" hockey romance, unafraid to tackle the everyday and the tough issues side by side.

NOTE: New edits were made to this book after the review copy was released

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