Melting the Ice
I’ve read every book in the Play by Play series so far and I was really looking forward to this book. I really love reunited couples with a rocky background, and that perfectly describes Drew and Carolina. In the last book, we got a little tease of the conflict between Carolina and Drew and I was hoping for a really good read. Sadly, the book didn’t come close to living up to my excitement or the other books in the series.
Melting the Ice got off to a pretty slow and bumpy start. I like for the first chapter of a book to really hook me in some way and keep me reading. This first chapter felt more like catching up with the characters from the last book than actually starting a new story. Carolina Preston is starting a fashion line and, when her brother and his wife stop by to visit we spent the bulk of the first chapter catching up with Grey and Evelyn and their married life. Had I not read the previous book in this series, I would have been really bothered by this. You can’t expect every reader to have followed the series and spending too much time on previous characters really takes away focus from the new couple.
The idea is brought up of Carolina using her brother’s friend, Drew, as a model. Drew, a professional hockey player, took Carolina’s virginity back in college in a one-night stand. Now, in spite of her dislike of him, she agrees to use him to show off her menswear. This method of throwing them together felt so contrived to me. If Carolina is really serious about needing a male model, there are plenty to go around in the industry. If she wanted a professional athlete, she could have used her brother or any of his bevy of athlete friends that she hasn’t slept with. Although Carolina reminds Drew time and again that there’s a conflict between then due to their past, the reader never really feels that conflict. Most of the story was basically Carolina saying nothing could happen between them because he hurt her in college and then them going out to dinner or whatever anyways.
Carolina herself was not a character I cared for. She felt really static. Basically, all we get to know about her is that she’s a workaholic. In fact, that is her excuse every time anyone suggests she do anything. She seems to think that if she doesn’t work on her fashion line constantly then it’s going to be a total failure. Drew was more enjoyable to read, but still won’t crack my list of favorite male leads from this series. He spent most of the book insisting that he would make something more between himself and Carolina than sex but then acted very childishly when things got more serious.
Luckily, Melting the Ice did get better by the second half of the book. While the conflict was still a little ho-hum, I was happy see Carolina start to thaw out. Burton always has sexy love scenes and that was still true here. However, the book may have been a little more mild than the other Play by Play titles. It took a long time for the physical intimacy to actually make an appearance in the story. Most of the other Burton books I’ve read will introduce some kind of sexual content within the first three chapters but Melting the Ice took around 100 pages to get juicy. From most romance novels, this would be totally normal but I actually expected more heat from Burton.
As much as I enjoy the reunited ex-lovers trope, this book was not at all a good example of it. We didn’t get to know a lot about their interaction in college except that they were drunk and slept together. I would have preferred that there was some more unrequited longing on both sides that drew them back together. Instead, they were just stuck together and then started hooking up. The story needed a big injection of conflict.
If you’re a fan of the series, this is a decent addition. You won’t feel like you wasted your time on it, but don’t expect it to live up to the previous books you’ve read. New readers will probably struggle to get into the story due to the odd start but should find a decent romance toward the second half.