College senior Kate Camden has learned to adapt – to her last year of school, to the promise of motherhood, to the fact that she’s doing it all alone. But just when she’s learned to adjust, heartache threatens to break her apart.
Pro hockey player Jason “Ryke” Ryker has it all: adoring fans, a promising career, and a beautiful wife. But when his seemingly perfect life is shaken by tragedy, he’s left questioning whether having it all is ever more than an illusion.
When circumstance brings Kate and Ryke together, they discover they don’t have to hurt alone. Bound by a grief that haunts them both, they must rely on one another to survive heartbreak. But that grief is more powerful than they realize, and the tie that binds them together may ultimately tear them apart.
3 stars — Picky Lenore strikes again!!! Dude, this is getting annoying.
OK, first things first, I honestly interpreted the first paragraph of the blurb to mean one thing, and in the prologue we find out something completely different. I thought she was going to be a single mother. So I had to do a bit of a context switch. Not a big deal, but I had been anticipating a certain type of read so it threw me.
Let’s start positive! Things I loved. I really enjoyed the grief support group sessions. Both just from a general perspective of seeing people struggling through grief, and how it has its ups and downs and is a constant struggle. While I never went to any groups like this, I think many people don’t realize just what grief does to people…and everyone adjusts differently. I also enjoyed the way Ryke and Kate were able to admit to some of their fears in the group, and sort of tell the other person in a safer space. It allowed them to understand some challenges that they might have kept to themselves without that weird veneer. I really loved how Ms. Rothert tackled grief and especially Kate’s story, which may not be obvious to many people, but it’s very real and heartbreaking. I also really enjoyed the connection that Ryke and Kate had because of their shared grief. I didn’t feel like it was forced or contrived, and there were moments where (particularly) Ryke was there for Kate that were just perfect — like the moment on the dock when they were camping.
I LOVED Ryke’s patience at times. And how hard he tried to do the right thing for Kate and not rush her, but still convey his desires. And he was pretty hilarious at times. I even enjoyed his comradery with his fellow hockey players, particularly Luke. And the bits of hockey we did get were fantastic, making this a true sports romance because we actually got to see the sport being played. And that moment at the charity event where Kate was talking about hockey fights was gold, I LOVED it! Made me laugh. And I adored the interactions Kate had with her Mom, and the games night with her Mom and Dale.
BUT. Unfortunately there’s a but. There were a million little things that bugged me and kept me from truly enjoying this story. Kate wasn’t a terrible character, but other than her grief, I found I didn’t really enjoy her. The hot and cold stuff went on a bit too long for it to be understandable. I just didn’t see the growth in her I wanted to, so I didn’t understand what changed when things between her and Ryke FINALLY progressed. And I wasn’t all that impressed with a psychology major who was so opposed to counselling…you would think she would be less dismissive of it.
And there was a lack of consistency at times. Almost like the author made some decisions to change up the story, but didn’t go back and smooth out the beginning. Like the first impression we’re given of Mags is a LOT different from our final impression of her. And I’m kind of bummed that there really wasn’t ANYTHING redeemable about her, I think I would have appreciated the story more if she hadn’t been somewhat villified. Ryke could still have not had the same kind of love as for Kate without making Mags a bitch. And Kate wasn’t necessarily consistent either. She starts off being kind of jealous like Mags, but then it was like that didn’t work so then suddenly she wasn’t. Or it was explained away by other things. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on who she was.
And the believability of parts of the story didn’t work for me. Like, even if Kate is opposed to sex, what about other non-pregnancy-inducing intimate activities? Or does she just feel as though it’s a floodgate that once opened would lead there? And moving in together??? Where did she sleep? How did that work?? I don’t understand. And after the confession about his parents and family and how bummed he was, she still reacted like that to the present? Sucks. And people in relationships really play that kissing game?? Really? Didn’t like that at all.
*sigh* OK, I probably have more to say, but I’m going to stop there. I think I enjoyed the first half more b/c I assumed that the development would happen faster, and when it kept not happening, I started to lose my mojo. I don’t mind having obstacles, but leaving them to the very end doesn’t make the transition as believable. And I didn’t even get good steamy times to make up for it. I don’t know what to do about this author now, b/c I LOVED her most recent book. I don’t want to read anymore Kate and Ryke, that’s for sure. I can’t decide what to do. Maybe I’ll watch for future books, maybe it’s that she’s developed a lot more over time and I prefer her writing now. We’ll see.