Avon Impulse, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-06-266249-1
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Head Coach follows Mister Hockey, with both stories revolving around the hot hockey studs of the Denver Hellions. The heroine Neve Angel and the hero Tor Gunnar (the head coach in question) have a frenemy thing going, and Neve is the sister of the heroine of that other story. This story, however, can stand alone quite well.
Basically, in this story, Neve and Tor hook up. That’s the plot. This plot can then be broken down into a series of contrivances and events designed to put them together. In fact, the “plot”, if I can call it that, is the biggest issue that I have with this one. There is just too much of everything for a novella. These two correspond via a navigation app and become fond of one another without realizing whom the other person is. There is a bet which forces Neve to join Tor to play his date when he attends his ex-wife’s wedding. Tor has issues about committing due to the fact that his previous marriage collapsed when he spent too much time doing his coach thing, while Neve faces sexism at her workplace and has her own commitment issues. And on and on – there are so many things going on here, I don’t know why the author doesn’t save one or three for a novel instead of cramming everything here.
Oh, and like every story involving a journalist sleeping with a celebrity person, that celebrity person always acts incongruously shocked and betrayed at the idea that the journalist may end up writing about him (it’s always a “he”), even if he knows all along that she is a journalist.
But if there is any reason to read this story, it’s the chemistry between the two leads. Unlike the previous story, here we have two people who are on equal footing and the result is fun rather than creepy-sad. The chemistry is solid, the main characters are likable, and the sex scenes are steamy. Just like the previous story, the heat level here is raised a notch higher than the typical mainstream romance – more than missionary but not quite anal beads and whips, with all shades of sexy and fun every inch of the way.
All things considered, Head Coach is a pleasant diversion. Sure, the story could have been less contrived, but when the characters are clearly having so much fun, I can’t help but to be entertained.