Game On

Hometown Players, Book #6

By Victoria Denault

ISBN# 9781538727010

Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi

*Beware of possible Spoilers*

Alex Larue has never had an easy life.  Growing up in an abusive foster home, and then running away and living on the streets has scarred him in ways that nobody realizes, even those that call him friend.  Luckily some coaches saw the potential in him when he was a kid, and made sure to keep developing his skill.  He didn’t make it into the NHL the normal way, but clawed his way in fighting and kicking!  Now, he’s been traded once again.  At least he has friends on his new team, The Brooklyn Barons.  Unfortunately, the coach is not among them!  He didn’t want Alex on his team, and makes sure Alex knows it!

Alex doesn’t believe he’s relationship material, with all the demons he has from his past.  Instead he’s become the stereotypical playboy athlete, bragging about having the most sleepovers in the league and stating that he breaks headboards, not hearts!

Alex meets Brie in the local Starbucks. Unfortunately, she heard his crass remarks about her body, spoken in French, and understood every word!  So imagine his dismay to discover that she runs the charity that he’s decided to volunteer at, Daphne’s House, that helps get homeless kids off the streets.  Brie doesn’t like him, and is quite blunt about it!  However, he grows on her once she sees how he is with the kids.  He even brings a girl to her that desperately needs the help of Daphne’s House, if only the courts would cooperate.

And, as time passes, Brie and Alex learn that they have more in common than either could have ever dreamed of.

I wasn’t going to read this book.  I was worried that it would be too similar to Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series, and I didn’t want to get the two confused!  But I’m so glad I gave this book a chance!  I absolutely loved it!!

The characters are engaging and well-developed!  I loved our tortured hero, Alex!  He hides his pain with a cocky smile and humor.

“Every house needs a party to break it in, make it feel loved.”

“She’s a crazy person,” Luc informs me with a grin that says he wouldn’t have it any other way. “But if you don’t plan one, she’ll plan it for you.”

“I’ll have one, but I can’t this weekend,” I explain. “I’m attending a fund-raiser tomorrow and besides, I don’t have any furniture other than a bed. I could still have a party with just that, but it’s not a party I’d invite old married people like you to.”

Luc laughs. Rose turns pink and shakes her head. “You single hockey players are the worst.”

None of Alex’s friends or team mates know the horrible past he has led, and Alex likes it that way.  He’s ashamed and doesn’t want their pity.  But he does what he can to help other kids in the same situation, he just likes to keep his charity work to himself.

Brie is a tough cookie as well.  She hasn’t been through the hell that Alex has known, but she could have easily been in the same shoes, if her parents hadn’t seen her on the news and adopted her.  It’s the reason she created Daphne’s House, but the charity’s financial situation is in dire straits.

I really enjoyed all the couples from the previous books that I hadn’t met since this is the first book I’ve read in the series!  They were all engaging and fun!  And, I love that it was Alex that figured out Callie was pregnant!  Who would have figured the playboy would be the one to make the connection?

“With Ashleigh we had to try forever. But Callie and I .. we were just going to see what happens.”

“Babies.” I grin at him because he’s a doofus right now. “Babies are what happens, Captain.”

I also loved seeing how Alex was with the kids, especially Mac!

Another reason I love this book is that it’s about a hockey player, and I’m a HUGE hockey fan!  In fact, I wish Alex was real so he could be on my favorite team, The St. Louis Blues!  Based on the description in the book, I picture him as a Ryan Reaves or Scottie Upshall type of player, the ones that bait the other teams into taking stupid penalties!

I loved when Alex invited the kids to a game, gave them the full tour, and they even got jerseys to keep.  This is something that the Blues would have totally done, making me feel like he would be a good fit for my team … if he was real (details, details).  It reminds me so much of Vladimir Tarasenko and Ari!  If you don’t know the story you should definitely follow the link  and read up.  Basically Vladi met Ari during one of the events the Blues did to help sick kids  feel good and meet their favorite players and he fell in love with young Ari, who had been fighting cancer since she was three.   He and his wife stayed in touch with her and her family.  He then won an item the Blues had donated at a charity auction (outbidding a very determined fan in the process), The prize was to travel with the team for a two game road trip, and he gifted the trip to Ari for her birthday! The video of his surprise is below and is pretty sweet.   During the trip she got to ride on the plane with the team, and go to the games as a special guest.  The fan base is as smitten with Ari as Vladi is and consider her a lucky charm of sorts!

Oh the feels!

Of all the sports, I truly feel that hockey players have the biggest hearts. The things they do, make me proud to be a fan, even though it’s a truly underappreciated sport.

Back to the book though.  The hockey itself took up very little of this book, as the main focus was really on the emotional side of things, specifically Alex’s horrible childhood.  And, of course I love a good emotional story, which made me love the book that much more.

This book has impressed me enough that I feel I really need to go read the previous installments.

I’m also sad to report that per Denault’s website this is the final book of the series!  NOOOO!!!  Say it isn’t so!!  I just found this series and I’m not ready for it to be over!!  And, honestly this book didn’t read like a series finale, but apparently it is.  Sadness.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*