I was quite surprised by this book. First off, it is not really a novella – it’s a full length book. Secondly, it was what I had hoped for when reading hockey romance. Not a focus on sex, but a focus on relationships and the game. I had never read anything by Ms. Stahl before, but I will be looking into more of her work.
The story follows Evan and Ami. Evan is a 20/21 year old professional hockey player for the Chicago Blackhawks. Ami is a 17/18 year old orphan who Evan found almost dead from a brutal rape. Evan feels drawn to her and doesn’t leave her side during her recovery. Ami is drawn to him when she awakes from her coma. The begin a friendship and a deep connection grows between them throughout the story. I was fascinated by how the author portrayed Ami’s rape from Evan’s viewpoint. Usually you just read about the victim and all she is dealing with, but not here. It is how Evan handles the emotional pitfalls he feels as her friend and lover. Ami doesn’t remember much of her attack, so most of the memory comes from Evan. Throughout the story, Evan is constantly looking for the attacker because not knowing just rips him apart. They eventually find the guy, and there is more emotional upheaval at his arrest.
I loved the deep emotional quality of the book. Every character is thoroughly fleshed out and has a personality. You get to meet Evan’s family (who are from Pittsburgh by the way, my hometown – Go Pens!) and several teammates. You also meet Callie, a lively woman who tends to sleep with everyone on the team, but becomes a great friend to Ami. You read mainly from Evan’s point of view, but there is a lot of Ami in there as well. I wasn’t super drawn to Ami, but she is a lovable character and solid. I preferred Evan and Callie, they seemed more animated and fascinating.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves hockey. It is not a lighthearted romance by any means, so if that’s what you’re looking for don’t read this one. However, if you are looking for a well-developed story with a strong emotional pull and intricate characters, this is a good book.