Center Ice by Cate Cameron

Synopsis:
25354188This Entangled Teen Crush book contains adult language, underage drinking, sexual situations, and crazy squirrels. It may cause you to become a fan of hockey – or at least hot hockey players.

The hometown hockey hero won’t know what hit him…

Karen Webber is in small-town hell. After her mother’s death, she moved to Corrigan Falls to live with strangers – her dad and his perfect, shiny new family – and there doesn’t seem to be room for a city girl with a chip on her shoulder. The only person who makes her feel like a real human being is Tyler MacDonald.

But Karen isn’t interested in starting something with a player. And that’s all she keeps hearing about Tyler.

Corrigan Falls is a hockey town, and Tyler’s the star player. But the viselike pressure from his father and his agent are sending him dangerously close to the edge. All people see is hockey – except Karen. Now they’ve managed to find something in each other that they both desperately need. And for the first time, Tyler is playing for keeps…

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My Review:
4 stars — After having the privilege to read the 2nd book in this series through NetGalley, and thoroughly enjoying it, I just knew I had to read Tyler and Karen’s story too…  And I was not disappointed, it gave me all the great things that Chris and Claudia’s story did, but in a totally different set of circumstances…so it wasn’t just a cookie cutter copy romance.

Again, this was a fantastic YA.  While it had a fabulous romance going for it, in some ways the struggles that both characters were dealing with were the more important focus of the book…it just happened that they found each other while dealing with some heavy things, and came together and found solace with each other.

Karen’s struggles were more obvious — dealing with the death of the only parent you’ve ever known, having to fit into a different family…  The one that I found the most intriguing, and was kind of a background story, was dealing with a parent who’s not faithful, and the impact it can have on the rest of the family…especially when you’re living in a small town.  I like that the author didn’t shy away from that — that her father, Will, wasn’t a horrible ogre villain either, just a guy who continually makes bad choices that hurt his family.  It was more realistic maybe.  Because in the end things aren’t completely black and white, and it’s not always as easy as people want it to be.  It’s just not a topic that I’ve personally ever read about before.

Strangely enough, one of my favourite secondary characters ended up being Karen’s stepmother Natalie.  She was in the WORST position imaginable, and she just tried so hard to do the right thing and help everyone adjust and cope.  I was really happy with how her relationship with Karen developed.  The half siblings were interesting too, and I appreciated all their different approaches to the changes.  I could even see how Karen and Miranda’s interactions could get so heated — it reminded you that they were just teenagers dealing with this stuff, and so would not handle it all in a mature way.

Tyler’s struggles were not as common and black and white.  I grew up with kids in the WHL (Western Hockey League, the OHL equivalent on my side of the country), and so I’ve seen the strange hero worship that can happen in smaller towns…I’ve even seen the “puck bunnies”, and I can’t imagine what life would be like living with a billet, away from your family.  Sometimes I wanted to feel like Tyler’s Dad and his agent were too over the top, but at the same time I could see parents who behave in that manner.  I guess I just didn’t want to believe anyone could be that selfish and horrible to their child.

I really appreciated how Tyler’s more promiscuous past was dealt with too — it wasn’t all black and white either.  I mean, it’s a really strange life that they live.  And I appreciated all the different conversations (between Tyler and Karen, and between Karen and Natalie) that happened about “sluts” and “puck bunnies” and what’s acceptable, and if there are double standards and all that.  There weren’t clear resolutions necessarily, but more like just a topic that deserves more thought and not to be taken lightly.  Part of me was a little bit disappointed in the fast advancement in Tyler and Karen’s sexual relationship, but part of me felt like that was kind of realistic too…it wasn’t all clean cut and perfect.

So yeah.  Definitely going to watch for more books in this series.  I really appreciated how many different topics Ms. Cameron chose to address, or at least mention.  It definitely worked for me, and gave me something different to think about than the usual YA struggles.

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9 thoughts on “Center Ice by Cate Cameron

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