on 9 August 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Series: Vancouver Vice #3
Published by Self Published
Copy for review provided by Author in exchange for an honest review.
She hasn’t been on a date in over a decade…
Jackie Wagner is better now, thanks. Her divorce is final, she’s taken up painting to relax, and best of all—her kids are doing fine. But when her ex-husband announces it’s time to sell the house, Jackie scrambles to find enough money so her kids can stay in the same neighbourhood they’ve grown up in. The problem is that her résumé is pretty dusty, and she has zero job skills other than being a wife and mother.
Then a plum job falls in her lap—furnishing an apartment for the new coach of the Vancouver Vice hockey team. Making a nice home is one thing she’s good at, and the job has potential. Then the coach walks in. He’s confident, good-looking and, oh dear God, wearing nothing but a towel. He’s the first guy she’s been attracted to in forever.
…and he doesn’t do relationships.
Leo Gauthier is driven. Becoming the new head coach of the AHL Vancouver Vice is the next step in his life plan. He’s on the fast track to becoming an NHL coach, as long as he keeps winning. So he lives and breathes hockey for seventy hours a week. Everything comes second to his career except his young daughter. After a painful divorce, he prefers not to let the women in his life get too close, especially not a hot single mother.
But beyond the physical attraction, Jackie’s vulnerability pulls at him, making him question his arm’s length policy. Can two people with such complicated pasts find a future together?
Second Round by Melanie Ting is the latest book in her hockey romance series about the Vancouver Vice, a junior hockey league team in the AHL. The team – players, coaches, and owners are working at improving their standing in the league and for some of them, navigating new relationships too. This story focuses on the new coach, Leo, who plans to use this opportunity to turn around the team fortunes as a stepping stone to an NHL coaching job, until he finds himself questioning what’s really important in his life.
Leo Gauthier has come from Montreal with a very specific goal – make the Vancouver Vice a winning team. Their last coach hadn’t been that good, and after suffering a heart attack the team owners had made a decision to bring in someone new. His one regret is that he’s farther away from his eight year old daughter Charlotte, who lives with his ex-wife. But he’s asked the team owners to set up his new furnished apartment with a room for her to come visit in the summer. He’s a workaholic, and he likes it that way so since his divorce, he’s had an occasional hookup but no interest in a new relationship.
Jackie Wagner’s divorce is final and she’s ready to move on to the next stage of her life, with her two pre-teen children Tristan and Hannah. When her ex Brent tells her he wants the house she and the kids are living in to be sold on the lucrative Vancouver market, it forces her to make some decisions, including finding a better job to support her family. She’s got some artistic and design talents and with the help of a friend she lands something she never had thought to try but turns out she’s really good at – furnishing and decorating an apartment on a strict budget. Putting the finishing touches on the rooms, she doesn’t expect to encounter the new occupant, and especially not just out of the shower! Leo and Jackie’s first meeting soon leads to a first date, and then a casual relationship as the two single parents navigate their jobs, their families and their sexual attraction to each other. But Leo’s career plans don’t include settling down, or staying in Vancouver if an NHL coaching job comes his way. And Jackie’s just come out of a relationship where she was always second best. Can they find a way to get their happy ending?
There’s a reason why I look forward to every Melanie Ting romance, and it’s her ability to show all facets of her characters and how they change and grow over the course of the story. Plus, her critical eye on hockey, whether it’s on the ice, in the locker room, or in a management meeting makes you feel invested in the team and its fortunes. I’ve become a big fan of the Vancouver Vice from reading this series as each story has shown a different aspect of the team and how they all need to work together to garner success.
Jackie comes across as a very realistic heroine. Newly divorced, with an ex-husband who never really supported her, she’s coming to terms with the failure of her marriage and her new start on life. She loves to paint and is quite good at it, though her ex always showed disdain for her hobby. When she meets Leo, he is quick to notice that she tends to be self-deprecating and makes it clear that he values her as she is and thinks she is smart and beautiful. She’s nervous about having sex with him, having not been with another man for so long but Leo doesn’t pressure her so that when she’s ready, their chemistry speaks for itself in some very steamy scenes. Her new found confidence with Leo also means that she’s more willing to stick up for herself around her ex, and benefits her in all aspects of her life.
For his part Leo undergoes his own character transformation. A workaholic with very specific goals, his ex-wife didn’t appreciate being second best and all the traveling required by his position. They have a workable relationship and equal custody of their daughter but if there is one thing Leo regrets it’s not spending as much time with Charlotte because of his career. He struggles to balance his work and his family, and though he told Jackie at the start of their relationship that it would only ever be casual on his side with a definite end date, it’s easier said than done when Jackie appears to be getting more emotionally involved than he’d bargained for. The conflict in the story comes from changing expectations and both Jackie and Leo have to make some serious decisions that will affect not only them, but their children as well.
The plot of the story is a good balance of Jackie and Leo’s relationship and the hockey season with Leo as the new head coach of the Vice and all that entails. I enjoyed seeing the hockey team flourish under Leo’s coaching and the games were exciting to read about. Leo and Jackie’s happy ending is the icing on the cake to a promising season and I hope to read more about this team and its success in love and on the ice!