Mitch Greyson is a busy college sophomore. Busy is most likely an understatement as with a full course load, a full hockey schedule, and two part time jobs, Mitch is exhausted and overwhelmed. Yet, he’s determined to make it all happen and being brilliant does not hurt at all. He’s not too busy however, to flirt with NHL hockey player, Alex Dean.
With a broken arm, Alex is temporarily off the play roster. He finds himself back in Vermont where he went to college and is slightly exasperated by Mitch’s persistence. Alex is using his time off the ice to visit his ailing grandfather and start working on a book he wants to write. Yet, somehow he finds himself helping Mitch pass an elective he wasn’t prepared for.
Mitch is all attitude and talk at the start, but Alex soon realizes that’s just a cover for what’s underneath. And, it’s what’s underneath that Alex wants to know more about. But Alex certainly doesn’t rush into relationships and becoming friends with Mitch is more his speed until he has the overwhelming urge to kiss him. But neither man is out and being together could risk everything they both have worked for.
Sports and athletes of all kinds can sell me on a book just like that. There then needs to be something else to hook me in and this book did not do the best job with that. To start, the author’s note states that Mitch and Alex were introduced in a previously published novella as side characters where they had already been married for six years. On the Ice then takes us back to when they met and right off, that set up didn’t interest me.
Mitch is confident and smart and knows exactly what he wants in the way of a career. When Alex is part of a guest panel in one of his classes, he has a list of questions and the flirting is just a bonus. But, there was that something about Mitch that was off, like terms he used such as “holy jumping hockey sticks.” Also, in describing the side characters, the author would have Mitch run through their characteristics in his head. Like when Mitch saw his best friend and roommate, Cody, that he had known since first grade, or his teammates, his mind made a list of what these people looked like and it was not natural and came off as clunky.
Then, there was Alex. Alex is demisexual and has never really been attracted to anyone. He doesn’t like Mitch at first, finds him too overwhelming, and it’s a gradual process for them to become friends, and then move on to a relationship. More than once, when Alex being demisexual was discussed, he would launch into a definition of what it was. While the author does note at the end of the book that since the book takes place in 2008/2009, an explanation was needed as demisexual was not as commonly known during that time, the repeated textbook definition was not natural to the flow of conversation.
Mitch also has a whole lot of family issues that we learn about early on and they did not make much sense. His mother has a successful business and when Mitch decided he wanted to play hockey, his mother cut him off financially and would not pay for college. Mitch has a partial scholarship. It’s stated he works two part time jobs to make up the balance, but tutoring and working one shift in an elderly care facility would not have given Mitch the finances he needed. Also, Mitch claims his father is his best friend and he looks forward to when his father visits him. Yet Mitch’s father has NO idea that Mitch’s mother, who is still his wife, cut Mitch off financially and Mitch claims he does not want to interfere with their marriage. However, his father sees how exhausted Mitch is and gives him $20s when passes through town to help him out with no discussion. And then, there is Mitch’s older brother who abruptly stopped speaking to Mitch when Mitch was 14 and would never tell him why and no one but Mitch is concerned about this. None of this made any sense, especially when Mitch went home to spend Christmas with them all. And the reveal with Mitch’s brother was ridiculous and the story line with the mother had no resolution.
The relationship between Mitch and Alex is slow, but even when they are becoming friends there was no spark. The story just moved along with them becoming friends and moving into a relationship, but there was nothing drawing me in here and I was able to put this book down for long stretches without thinking about the characters. There is a lot of talk about hockey, but not much on ice time seen and the sports area was lackluster for me.
The relationship, the sports aspects, and the family dynamics didn’t work much for me, but if you enjoy this author’s style it might work better in your hands.