When Juliana Stone first started posting teasers from her new contemporary romance, OFFSIDE, I recognized a strong heroine and a tough yet protective hero - I was hooked. So when she approached me to read and review this indie contemporary even knowing that I am rather particular about contemporaries, I was both flattered and excited. To say the least - I jumped at the chance!
***eARC provided by author in exchange for an honest and unscripted review.
Blurb for OFFSIDE:
When hockey phenom Billie-Jo Barker returns home and decides to play in the local Friday night hockey league, all hell breaks loose. Not because Billie's talent is in question, but because Billie is a woman. And though these are modern times, some of the local guys still have a problem letting a girl into their 'men's club.'
Soon, Billie is at the center of a small town battle of the sexes, with everyone choosing sides. Her sisters. The townsfolk. Her friends. And yet, the only person whose opinion she cares about doesn't seem to care much at all. Logan Forest, the man who broke her heart when she was eighteen and the man she now shares the bench with ever Friday night.
She's got a lot to prove and though Billie Jo Barker scores on the ice, will this girl ever score with the man of her dreams?
* * * * *
Billie Barker is an ex-Olympian, a hockey phenom, a slap shot queen who is now side-lined because of concussions suffered while playing in a female pro-hockey league in Europe. Having returned home to rest, she's stirring up trouble nearly from the moment she walks into town. Having discovered that the guys in town are putting together a beer league hockey team, Billie signs up. Well, this goes over like a fart in church. The guys aren't happy about it, their wives aren't happy with their husbands for not wanting Billie to play, and the single gals are jealous of Billie's close proximity to the single men. One single man in particular.
Logan Forest barely remembers the kid that used to skate rings around the guys. The pint sized girl who went off to play hockey in the Olympics and then later, professionally. Of the Barker triplets, he only had eyes for Billie's sister - Betty - but now that Billie's returned, he can't seem to keep his eyes off her. He's not happy about her playing hockey with the guys but he doesn't see any reason why she can't. He finds himself defending her and protecting her from the abuse that some of the guys are determined to heap on her. The last thing he expects is to find himself thinking about her nearly every waking moment and sometimes even when he's not awake. He's determined to get her out of his system and the best way to do that is to get her into his bed. Or so he thinks.
I was surprised and amazed at how intimately I became entranced in this story. OFFSIDE is not just about a gal wanting to play hockey with the boys or proving herself as capable as any of them, if not more. No. It's about family, it's about loyalty, it's about the relationship between sisters, friends, and teammates. I have two sisters so I know what it can be like and I understand the tension that can exist even though you love them. Bobbi is the third triplet and she feels as if she's been handed the short end of the stick and her sisters, Billie and Betty, have skated free to live their lives as they wish. What she doesn't know is that Billie has her own secrets and torments. Billie has fears and trepidations about her future whereas Bobbi is settled and confident. Betty shows up near the end, and oh boy, did I want to slap her down and kick her to the curb.
OFFSIDE by Juliana Stone is a story built on familial tugging of the heartstrings, a heroine who, while confident on the ice, is still the timid sports-minded teenager who once pretended to be her more flirtatious sister to seduce the man she's always loved, and a hero who, despite his protests, wants what everyone else around him seems to have - real love. Touching, emotional, at times heart-wrenching, OFFSIDE is a steamy romance that culminates with a devastating blow to the heart leaving you wondering if this romance can be saved. Have no fear, Juliana Stone pulls it out and leaves you begging for more.
I highly recommend OFFSIDE by Juliana Stone to anyone who wants to read a truly romantic, heartfelt, emotional roller coaster of a romance. It's that simple. I guarantee you'll even find yourself a little more interested in hockey.
Happy Reading Everyone!
OFFSIDE, the Barker Triplets by Juliana Stone, self-published, available now on Smashwords and Amazon (link below)