Heat it Up (Off the Ice Series) by Stina Lindenblatt
Overview by Netgalley:
Sofia Phillips feels cursed. Her father cheated on her mother, her boyfriend cheated on her―she’s done with dating. A summer work-exchange program in Finland is the perfect escape. But instead of gaining experience as an athletic trainer, she’s cleaning toilets. Awesome. The trip is a disaster, and even better, she meets Kyle Bennett. In the sauna. Naked.
Sexy hockey player Kyle was the star right wing for an NHL team. But after an accident killed his wife and left him injured, Kyle has appreciated the “therapeutic” benefits of booze and puck bunnies. Now in Finland for the summer, he’s coaching in an elite hockey-training camp for teens. When Sofia’s grandmother decides to set her up with a nice Finnish man, Sofia recruits Kyle as her make-believe boyfriend. Neither expects their first kiss to sizzle. And neither expects, while stranded on an island during a storm, to have a scorching night of passion.
But as their charade, and then their attraction, develops into something deeper, the past comes back, threatening to destroy them. They must decide if their feelings for each other are strong enough to survive―or it will be game over.
This is the zillionth hockey contemporary romance book I have read in the past while. One thought I keep having is how all these hockey players are getting married when they are super young. Kyle is no exception to this as he was married young and widowed. He is in Finland for the summer to help out with a hockey camp. Due to a deadly car accident, he lost his wife and his career when he was injured.
Sofia is in Finland for the summer to do a work program and to run away from her life in Minneapolis. It makes sense that the two people running away would find each other.
I found it charming that Sofia didn’t speak Finnish and her constant thoughts about the language barrier were funny. Sofia and Kyle were realistic characters. They both had flaws and were pretty realistic. Sometimes it was a bit too real, such as Kyle’s womanizing ways and his hard drinking. It made it challenging to like him at times and see him as worthy of Sofia. I sometimes felt that if I was Sofia’s friend and encouraging her to have a summer fling, I’d be pushing for the hot Finnish fellow that persistently chased after her. It also really bothered me that Sofia didn’t know who Kyle was. Who in this world doesn’t turn to social media to vet a new potential love interest?
The author shows her love for Finland through the sight seeing Kyle and Sofia do. If you are interested in learning more about the country, then this book will provide some great insights.
What I liked about this book was the narrative from both Kyle and Sofia. It provided a lot of insight into the characters emotions and thoughts. It helped to explain why Sofia feared intimacy and Kyle drank. At times this felt like a YA story and then it would surprise me by a maturity beyond the years of the characters.
While this book features hockey, it’s not the action of the NHL. It’s a former NHL player coaching young players and trying to hold on to his dream. Things wrap up nice and tidy in the end and they get their happily ever after. While I enjoyed this book, it was different from what I was expecting. I liked the romance, but I think learning about Finland through the character’s eyes was the best part.