After a brutal hit on the ice, Neil Shannon is left reeling from a concussion and a broken arm. Even after he returns to his place on the Snowdevils, Neil’s usual confidence and skill seem to abandon him. It doesn’t help that Adrian Magnunsson, his fiercest rival, is now determined to become a part of Neil’s life. In the midst of this, Neil finds himself suddenly traded to the Kraken, Adrian’s team. Neil’s entire existence is turned upside down and he struggles to find a sense of balance. And all the while, Adrian Magnunsson is waiting in the wings, ready to stir things up even further.
Adrian can’t help his attraction to Neil. He respects the hell out of Neil on the ice, but between the sheets, the man is everything Adrian wants. Convincing Neil they should be together is a challenge Adrian finds worth accepting. He just has to help Neil back on his feet and back in the game. And convince Neil that loving Adrian is worth the risk.
I don’t like hockey. In fact, I don’t like any sports. So it’s ironic that I seem to review quite a few sports-themed books for the blog, but they tend to be enjoyable. He Shoots, He Scores definitely falls into this category. The story is fairly strong and both Neil and Adrian are compelling characters. And while the title is a tad silly, the story deals with the mental impact of injury and stress in a believable way.
Neil’s injuries manage to shake up his well-ordered world. He struggles to regain his sense of self-worth on and off the ice and the author does a good job making this struggle relatable. His depression and lack of confidence feel real and it makes his character easy to champion. The relationship between Adrian and Neil, aside from the occasional sports references during sex, is intense and, while we don’t get much development of their rivalry before Neil’s injury, it’s easy to see why they fit so well together. Adrian is brasher and the more dominate personality, but he’s a good balance for the quieter and more closed off Neil. Their romance is definitely the highlight of the book and they’re the kind of couple that tends to capture the reader’s attention right away. At least they grabbed mine and I enjoyed their journey.
The plot to He Shoots, He Scores is solid and the pacing is spot on. The action rarely lags and the author doesn’t sacrifice character development. Tricia Owens manages to keep the pacing and plot well balanced. The end of the book is a bit choppy and a measure of predictability hampers a satisfying conclusion. It isn’t terrible, but it does feel out of step with the rest of the book.
He Shoots, He Scores was an enjoyable romance between two men who create a formidable team. There’s an honest exploration of depression, losing one’s confidence, and struggling to find balance between fear and determination. The ending is overly predictable, but aside from that, the book is quite strong. Consider this one recommended.