Offside is a small-town hockey romance. Juliana Stone uses the hockey atmosphere and combines it with a slice of small town life in a story that will make any romance reader, hockey fan or no, a very happy person. It’s the story of a hometown heroine, BillieJo Barker, who comes home to the guy who she’s always been in love with. Yep. The hometown heroine, a hockey player who's been felled by injury, must now figure out what to do with her life. When she decides to play hockey in her hometown’s men's league, she comes into conflict with most of the town, including one of her sisters. Except of course the guy she’s always been in love with suddenly starts to be her own, personal, protector.
Local son, mechanic and defenseman Logan Forrest is BillieJo's former love, and their relationship sets off at a slow burn (even though there's ice involved!). There's also the push and pull that can only happen between the people in a small town. That means you also get the beer in the local bar (where gossip is discussed between, about and among local residents), as well as the opportunity to witness what happens as the town's Angry Pirates hockey team bonds off…and on the ice. I love books that remember small town life is never wholly sweet. Offside is the start to a new series.
The Code by G.B. Joyce is billed as a “Brad Shade Thriller.” At its core, however, this book is neither the thriller it’s billed as, nor the amateur-sleuth mystery it tries to be. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at how a scout does his job. The scout, Shade, comes to small city Ontario to look at a prospect that seems too good to be true—only to stumble over a murder.
The book describes the smell of the beer at the local bar as Shade tries to get the local gossip, how the junior League team operates within the city, and the role of the media. Shade’s relationship with the team owner is divisive, showing there is no love lost between a scout and upper management. All of these details give a hockey fan new perspective on the game. Joyce’s style is engaging and makes the reader feel as if they are really in Brad Shade’s messed up head. The Code is a great beginning to another new series.
Enjoy these and let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed. May the lockout end soon.
Stacey Agdern, @nystacey