In Back Check, Tanner and Katelyn get their second chance at love. College sweethearts on a path to the altar, Tanner’s rising NHL star status derailed their plans. Now that Katelyn has been hired as the wedding planner for a pal’s wedding, Tanner is forced to confront the girl who broke his heart and discover the secrets she kept in order to make her decision. However, his career is up in the air again so it all feels like Groundhog Day. They’re older now and have more life under their belts – will they each make the same decision again?
I can do away with any pretense at suspense here, y’all. Of course they make a different decision and their happily-ever-after is present in the book. But the journey to get there is worth your time – especially if you like second chance romances.
When we meet Tanner, he is in a place of instability. His contract with the Chicago Aces is up for re-negotiation and the team is keeping mum about their plans for him. While his agent keeps assuring him everything is going to be fine, Tanner isn’t 100% sure what “fine” is going to look like. Will he get traded? Will he stay? Will he be forced, financially, into early retirement? What is the team looking for from him? How can he convince them that his aging body but experienced brain are an asset to them? So our boy is already on emotionally shaky ground.
And then Katelyn arrives back on the scene and he nearly loses himself completely.
Lovey, star of Major Misconduct, has hired Katelyn as her wedding planner after a previous one bailed. Determined to make this wedding a complete success for her new event planning business, Katelyn is thrown sideways when she recognizes one of the groomsmen. She and Tanner haven’t spoken since college, when they broke up in an epic fashion over his decision to accept a contract in New York to play hockey and her decision to stay in Michigan. She’s attempted to move on, being engaged three times, but no one has ever measured up to Tanner.
Tanner, for his part, has been married and divorced since he and Katelyn last met. The ex was a real piece of work and he’s a little wounded from the whole thing. Pretty anti-marriage and definitely anti-weddings, he is only begrudgingly present for Marc and Lovey’s nuptials. He’s gobsmacked at Katelyn’s presence and his feelings for her quickly surface as they attempt to keep their relationship strictly to wedding planner and groomsman. You can imagine how well that goes, I’m sure.
My favorite part of this book was the underlying tension of adulthood and the demands of careers and life that often derail romances. As the couple rebuild their relationship, they have to be very honest with themselves and each other. They have to re-tread that big fight and disclose some unspoken reasons as to why they each reacted as they did. They have to consider whether they can work as a couple given their respective careers. They must negotiate and dream and hope and accept that a lot of their future is in the hands of others for a bit. When Tanner gets the final word about his contract, they have decisions to make together. This felt so very real for people getting together in their late 20s / early 30s. Life has already happened and started for folks in that age bracket, and coming together is more like joining puzzles than starting something fresh.
For fans of the series, Jamieson continues to visit and interact with all the characters from the previous books and it’ll be welcome to see old friends. For new readers, there’s nothing overwhelming here and Back Check can be happily enjoyed as a standalone.
This book – and this series – are musts for hockey romance fans, but I think even those averse to sports romances but who love a good second chance story will greatly enjoy this one. The dialogue is authentic, the sex is hot, and the relationship is grounded and lovely. It’s a perfect steamy read for a cold winter’s day.