So Over You
Kate Meader has been a reliable source of sexy contemporary romances, having written about chefs, firefighters, and now hockey players taking center ice. The Chicago Rebels series, all standalone romances but with a continuing background story arc, details a struggling NHL franchise and their make-or-break year. Having thoroughly enjoyed book one, Irresistible You, and the prequel novella In Skates Trouble, I can now add So Over You to the list of recommended reads. It’s an entertaining second chance romance featuring a talented female hockey player now turned coach due to fateful circumstances, and the man whose reputation in the bedroom equals that of his time on the ice – except with her.
The Chicago Rebels hockey team has been left to the care of three half-sisters – Harper, Isobel and Violet – after their philandering father passed away. He’s left specific instructions in his will – they must work together and ensure the team makes it to the playoffs this year or it will be sold off to the highest bidder. In order to do so, they’ve made deals to add players to their roster, including Russian hockey star Vadim Petrov. An injury has left him sidelined, and thus vulnerable to trade. But that’s not the only thing he’s vulnerable about.
Isobel had her thirty-seven minutes of fame in the women’s national hockey league after years of hard work and sacrifices, only to see her dreams go down the drain when a head slash from a hockey skate left her bleeding on the ice. Despite making a full recovery, doctors have warned her that any kind of fall could result in permanent brain damage, so, resigned to her fate, she’s taken to coaching instead. When she finds out she’ll be giving Vadim some one-on-one lessons to help with his rehabilitation, she knows she can deal with him professionally. But personally? That’s another matter.
Back when she was an impressionable teenager, she and Vadim had been involved in a love affair that resulted in his taking her virginity, but sadly not impressing her otherwise. She’d never told him that he’d failed in the satisfaction department because her father caught them together, and, worried that Vadim would derail his own plans for Isobel, had Vadim exiled from the US. It delayed Vadim’s own NHL career by several years and left him with a bitter taste when thinking of the girl who’d stolen his heart, then effectively ruined his life. Now they have to work together with a common goal in mind for the good of the team. When Vadim hears second-hand that he left Isobel hanging, he’s horrified, especially given his current reputation as the ‘Czar of Pleasure’. Discovering that it was Isobel’s father who was responsible for his exile and not Isobel herself, his feelings of betrayal are replaced with the need to recapture what they first had – and to make up for his failure to rock her world. But with the success of the team and Isobel’s career on the line, will rekindling their relationship come at too great a cost?
The backstory of Isobel and Vadim makes for a great setup, as they have to deal with each other after several years apart, and under quite different circumstances. While they may say that they have put the past behind them, it’s still there as the elephant in the room until they address it. The scene where Vadim discovers that he didn’t satisfy Isobel in bed is quite funny and sets his resolve to turn things around. It also brings up the very real complications that will occur if they get involved again. Isobel’s reputation as a coach is the only thing she has going for her now, and a relationship with a player, no matter that they were together in the past, could damage her job prospects with the Rebels (despite being part owner, she’s only been hired as a temporary coach) and could also affect any future coaching jobs with other teams. Vadim wishes to make amends to Isabel, but knows that ultimately the choice will be hers. He’s pretty persuasive though, and while they are able to keep things secret for a while (because these things always come out), they share some pretty intense and sexy scenes.
Isobel’s character is my favorite in this story. She’s the one who is the most affected by her father’s death and carries a lot of guilt because she knows that he treated her much better than her two half siblings. Harper was discarded once Isobel came along, and Violet was the product of an adulterous affair their father had when married to his second wife, Isobel’s mother. The relationship between Isobel and Violet is a key part of the story, especially because Violet and Isobel have both had life threatening health concerns that bond them together. Early in the story, a chance comes up for Isobel to revive her hockey career, a dream that she’s put aside but not forgotten. This directly impacts her relationship with Violet, and with Vadim. Isobel must weigh her choices against the possible consequences, not just for her, but for those she loves.
Vadim is also a man with flaws. At certain times he comes across as a bit of a caricature of a Russian man, although this could be due to the way the author chooses to express his English language skills, which are somewhat stilted and formal. But then at other times, and certainly later on in the story, he appears more well-rounded. He has his own family complications – a deceased father (like Isobel), a mother who abandoned him as a child, and a sister he adores whom he’s gotten to know only recently. Equal time is spent devoted to his family issues as to Isobel’s. He’s protective, defensive, stubborn, and arrogant. He makes choices that impact everyone, including Isobel, and to be honest, I’m still kind of on the fence as to whether I’ve forgiven him entirely for them. Yes, he has significant and understandable reasons but Isobel is a better woman than I for giving him the benefit of the doubt. Still, I am pleased with how the plot progressed, the conflict and the ultimate resolution.
As with any hockey romance, there are a good portion of on-ice and off-ice scenes, teammate camaraderie and in this case, significant conflict too. As part of the story arc, the hockey season progresses well, with the Rebels gaining ground in their quest for the Stanley Cup. Isobel and Vadim get their happy ending and discover that second chances come with risks but also great reward. So Over You is an entertaining, sexy, and enjoyable addition to the Chicago Rebels series.