Reviewed: June 28, 2011
Genres: Sports Romance
Series: Chinooks Hockey Team, Book 2
Rating: 4 stars
Length: 384 Pages
She may be a Seattle Times columnist, but Jane Alcott was surprised when her boss put her on team coverage of the Chinooks, Seattle's NHL hockey team. Surprised, but in need of the money from the extra income, so Jane gritted her teeth and started to cram hockey stats and rules into her head and prepared herself to travel with the team. Just one small problem...the team wanted nothing to do with her and initiated a thorough, if passive (and...uh...eye-opening), shutout and intimidation campaign.
One of the worst was Luc "Lucky" Martineau, decorated goalie and big dollar talent for the Chinooks. Though much of his reputation as one of the baddest bad boys in hockey is a mix of lies and exaggeration, he is walking attitude and pretty upfront about his dislike of Jane's career, her appearance, and her traveling with the team. Every chance he gets he's either riling her up or stirring up his team members to annoy or ignore her.
She thinks Luc's good looks are exceeded only by his arrogance. He thinks her gloomy wardrobe and flat chest are personality flaws. Both would be happy if they never had to speak to the other. Neither can stop thinking about the other. Suddenly road trips are a lot more interesting for both Jane and Luc, and that pesky, inexplicable attraction sparking to life between them is hot enough to melt ice rinks from coast to coast.
Light, breezy, and fun, See Jane Score gave me exactly the sort of reading pleasure I was looking for when I picked it up. Jane and Luc were likable and perfect foils for each other, and Gibson moved the plot along at a lively pace. Sure, there were some predictable elements, some formula that is familiar to the genre, but the make-it-or-break-it points were firmly stacked in the make-it column for me.
I'll admit, I have a weakness for sassy, intelligent spitfires and the men who fall helplessly under their spell. Jane, for all her lack of fashion sense and her pessimistic views towards matters of the heart, didn't back down from a fight, wasn't afraid to speak her mind, and was more than capable of going toe-to-toe with a gorgeous hockey star bigger and stronger than she. I admired her chutzpah, that's for sure. Beyond that, she had an endearing ability to be both vulnerable and dignified that was very appealing.
Luc was the prototypical male's male, with a "friend" in every city and a self confidence that more than bordered arrogance, it crossed wildly into arrogance waving banners of its awesomeness. Behind that, though, in the dark recesses he let no one see, was an aging hockey star who had suffered a near career-ending injury to both knees and had pulled himself back from the edge of pain and pain reliever addiction with sheer stubbornness and determination. Hockey was obviously his life, and he loved his life, but he knew the pain and the work required to live it. And while he was arrogant, and started out seeming very superficial, his vulnerabilities and his confusion - in dealing with a growing attraction for Jane and in raising his teenaged sister, humanized him. I liked him, and I liked Jane, and I loved them together.
I also loved the secondary characters, from Jane's best friend Caroline, to Luc's sister Marie, and of course Darby...poor, hapless Darby. They added a lot of depth to the story and helped round out the main characters' lives beyond hockey and reporting, and the plotlines and threads that included them added depth to the romance story arc. Gibson fleshed the book out nicely with them, and with the more ancillary characters of the other hockey players.
The premise for Jane becoming the team's sports reporter was a little hokey and unbelievable. The woman didn't know sports, let alone hockey, and the idea that other sports reporters at the paper wouldn't have gotten first dibs on the assignment was a little hard to swallow. The end, too, with its predictable conflict between Jane and Luc, gave me some trouble.
I don't mind knowing that the relationship is going to have at least one major conflict that it has to survive to get to the Happily Ever After. I don't even mind, not in this sort of light read, anyway, seeing it coming as soon as the potential for conflict is explained in the story. That's just something I accept as a fan of the genre. What bothered me in this case, though, was when in the story it happened and the manner in which it got resolved.
It came so late in the book, and the core issues that led to it were so quickly glossed over, that the wait for it ended up being more significant than the issue itself. Instead of seeming like a genuine stumbling block that got true issues out in the open and expanded and solidified Luc and Jane's relationship, the conflict was discussed and resolved in what seemed like a mad rush to the book's finish line, just one more plot point to touch on before the end. I ended up feeling a little cheated by it. Some of that was assuaged by a truly lovely epilogue, but only some of it.
See Jane Score is a light romance designed to be fun and sexy, and on that score it definitely delivered. I gobbled it up like the brain candy it was. Yes, I had a couple of issues, but in the end, Gibson gave me exactly what I was hoping for when I started reading. A few hours of escapist fun that didn't make me think too hard (except, of course, about hockey terminology), and made me smile a whole bunch. I enjoyed it immensely.
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