Playing Hurt (An Aces Hockey Novel)- Kelly Jamieson
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead!
Synopsis: Chase: The last thing I’d ever want to do is let my team down. After overcoming my bad-boy reputation, I was dominating on the ice. But things aren’t going so well this season, and even my parents think I’m partying again. Now I’m really worried about my career. The only bright spot in my life is the Twitter flirtation I’ve struck up with pop princess Jordyn Banks. Turns out she’s a huge hockey fan—and she’s willing to wager a date on her favorite team. . . .
Jordyn: Even though I’m an L.A. fan now, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Aces, since I grew up in Chicago. Then I lose a bet to Chase Hartman, and suddenly I’m up close and personal with a pro athlete who’s anything but soft. Not only is Chase the hottest guy I’ve ever met, he’s secretly super sweet. As if I had time for a relationship . . . yeah, right. But when I suddenly have nothing but time on my hands, he’s the only one who understands. Now, with both of our careers at stake, Chase is tempting me to put my heart on the line too.
Have you ever wondered what could happen if you started following someone famous on Twitter and were actually brave enough to send them a message- and they responded? Chase Hartman of the Chicago Aces has a huge crush on singer Jordyn Banks, so when she follows him back on Twitter he's excited, and thanks her. They get into Twitter messaging over hockey and before he quite knows what he's done, Chase has asked Jordyn out on a date. And she's agreed. Both say they aren't looking for a relationship at this stage in their lives, but as health challenges get thrown at them both they discover that life doesn't always go according to plan.
I loved the premise for Playing Hurt- we've all wondered "what if" you actually started talking with a famous person you liked, and they turned out to enjoy talking to you. Jordyn and Chase, both famous in their own circles, instantly spark something with each other despite connecting online. When they finally meet in person, the sparks are even hotter. They discover they can be themselves and be safe with each other. Whether that's going bowling and to blues clubs or vacationing in Aruba, they click. When a health scare and forced time off mean Jordyn spends more time in Chicago, they fall into a relationship neither really planned on. But you know what they say- life doesn't give you what you plan for, it gives you what you need.
You spend most of the book thinking that the title Playing Hurt refers to Jordyn's health problems sidelining her while Chase refuses to deal with his own injuries. But Chase's injuries are not just physical- he has some serious emotional roadblocks he should be working through. Experience has shown him that people only value him when he's perfect- whether that's former girlfriends, teams, or even his parents. So he pushes playing on when he shouldn't and then pours a lot of guilt on himself that he isn't playing well enough and is hurting the team. When Jordyn expresses concern about him playing hurt, he lashes out at her, instantly assuming if he doesn't do what she wants that she'll leave him. So he leaves her first. It's only after he sees her defending his play on Twitter after breaking up that he realizes he's found someone who will stick by him even when he messes up. There is a scene towards the end where Jordyn explains to Chase that everyone is playing life hurt- sometimes you can see the injuries, but most of the time you can't. It's not about being the best, but trying your best that will get you through life. It was so powerful, and I just loved it. Talk about a great reminder that whether it's a famous hockey player or the person serving you coffee, you have no idea what they are going through in their lives at that moment- so be nice. Wouldn't you want the same treatment?
I have to admit I didn't think the first half of Playing Hurt was as well written as Jamieson's books (Back Check) usually are, but the writing got tighter and better as the book went along and ended on a real high note. Jordyn and Chase are well-written characters with lots of depth, real-world issues, and electric chemistry. As always, Playing Hurt is a true hockey lover's book, written by an author who obvious loves hockey as much as her characters do, but without it being so much the focus of the book that non-hockey fans would be turned off. Although part of a series, new readers can read this as a stand alone and not be lost, although returning readers will enjoy a few cameos from characters from other books.
A fast and fun read to get hockey lovers through to the start of the season, and romance lovers a new couple to love!
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review