Erik and Stan have finally settled into well-earned domestic bliss when a nighttime phone call changes everything. Stan’s cousin has died suddenly leaving two children orphaned and desperately needing a home. Venturing back into Russia is a dangerous endeavor for Stan, but he isn’t about to let these kids end up in the government system. With Erik waiting back in the States, Stan flies back to a country that he both hates and loves.
Erik knows that adopting two children isn’t going to be easy. But Stan’s boundless optimism is infectious and while their new family has its hiccups, both men are determined to welcome and love their newest members. It won’t be a perfect journey, but with their friends and teammates on the Harrisburg Railers there to support them, Erik and Stan are ready for anything.
Hat Trick is the latest installment in the Harrisburg Railers series and a novella that follows the Christmas-themed Neutral Zone. This is a series that really must be read in order at this point. There are simply too many characters, couples, and storylines that are entwined to try and read them independently. The focus of Hat Trick is Erik and Stan and their growing family. They’re a sweet, snuggly couple and their devotion to one another and two orphaned children is endearing to say the least. There isn’t much hockey action here, but we do see Ten’s return to the ice, which has been a much-waited event by this particular reader.
Hat Trick is charming, but it does lack a level of realism. Stan’s ability to get into Russia and get out with the children is a bit far fetched. We’re just told that he knows powerful people. Okay, but what does that actually mean? And how? Also, the authors make a good effort at describing at least some of the hurdles faced by the prospective parents of adopting foreign children. But this aspect needed some fleshing out and I would have preferred seeing a few more challenges depicted. It would have added to the overall believability of the situation.
Hat Trick is a comfortable addition to the Harrisburg Railers series. It’s not a perfect story, but it’s rather like visiting old friends and it’s enjoyable despite its fumbles. Erik and Stan are a strong couple and their maturing relationship is a pleasure to witness.