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Liana Laverentz

REVIEW: Thin Ice by Liana Laverentz

REVIEW: Thin Ice by Liana Laverentz

Dear Ms. Laverentz:

This book was originally reviewed by Jayne about four years ago, and I intended to read it after she wrote her review but then other books caught my attention and I forgot.  I ended up buying this book in January because it was included on a sports romance list at Goodreads.  It had a great setup.  A formerly abused woman falls in love with a hockey player who happens to be the enforcer on a pro hockey team.  She has an intense and instinctive dislike for violence. When her first encounter with Eric Cameron is in the emergency room after a bar fight, he seems to fulfill all her preconceived notions about hockey players.

Liana Laverentz Thin IceJayne’s problems resided primarily in the multitude of conflicts that existed in the story and while that was problematic for me, my main dislikes were the lack of realism to the hockey and the portrayal of domestic abuse, the latter being used as a prop.

Emily Jordan is an emergency doctor raising her son in Minneapolis, struggling with student loan debt. Eric becomes interested in Emily immediately despite (or because of) her prickly responses to his mild overtures. He begins to pursue her in earnest and isn’t above taking advantage of her son’s hero interest in him to inveigle invitations to pizza and movies. Emily has to come to terms with Eric’s profession in order for them to have a life together.

Unfortunately, the book was all promise and little delivery. I never bought into Eric as a professional hockey player.  Jayne disagreed. She’s not familiar with sports and felt that there was enough to feel authentic for her.

Eric spent far too little time on the ice and far too much time pursuing Emily.  The amount of free time he had during the story which was set close to the start of the playoffs and then continued throughout until the end of the season was not believable.  But even more than that was his entire attitude toward actually playing the sport. At one point, Eric offers to pick her kid up and take him out to dinner so that Emily can get some much needed rest even though he had to be on a plane for an away game. He says “I’ll tell them I had an emergency. Catch a later flight.”

The gesture is gallant but what kind of professional hockey player or professional athlete would simply lie about his absence at an away game? Perhaps if the story included a storyline about Eric’s fading desire for the game (which might be believable after having previously won four championships), this would have made sense, but instead it just rang my inauthentic bell.  The reference to The Lord Stanley’s Cup, the positioning of Eric as an enforcerer and a lead scorer of the team and the repeated insinuation that he drove divisiveness within his own team by turning people against a co captain all contributed to a lack of believability.

I wasn’t convinced of why he would so ardently pursue Emily when she was constantly telling him no and, even beyond that, being rude and insulting to him.

The abuse angle could have been employed with a greater degree of believability as well. Emily’s ex husband was abusive, patterned behavior he learned from his father. Despite living in the same town as her ex and his very wealthy and prominent family, Emily somehow manages to conceal that she has a son. I found this one of the more bizarre coincidences in the book. The ex doesn’t become a danger to Emily until after she starts dating Eric, convenient for the story, but the ex’s rage induced actions seem almost cartoonish and paint by number, diminishing any tension or impact.  I think that this might have been, in part, what Jayne referred to as the ever building number of conflicts introduced in the story.

While I appreciate the storyline of the abused woman reclaiming herself, I felt like it was more of a contrivance, particularly when the former mother in law who was also abused explains that the new girlfriend of the abuser treated the abuser like a “lap dog” and that the abuser tolerated it because the new girlfriend had “power he craves, the status…the money.” I had a hard time believing that a man who was raised to beat women and went on to beat women would allow himself to be treated like a “lap dog.” Instead, I felt like the characters were manipulated in order to have these big dramatic moments. It was irritating rather than interesting.

Finally, I found the book rather slow until about 70% of the story was completed as Emily played a push/pull game with Eric. The last third of the story was fast paced and contained a lot of drama, even if some of it was manufactured.

This was not a self published book and thus I will take a moment to complain about the formatting and editing. There were several areas in which paragraphs ran together, particularly dialogue. There were numerous quotation errors where quotation marks were omitted either at the opening or close of dialogue. There was no table of contents either. It was an amateurish product that I paid for. D

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW: Thin Ice by Liana Laverentz

REVIEW: Thin Ice by Liana Laverentz

Dear Ms. Laverentz,
Recently I read one of Jane’s reviews of a sports themed novel (using football instead of hockey). You use the world of the NHL as the background for your hero, Eric Cameron. I’ll be honest and admit that I know just enough about hockey and medicine, the background of the heroine Dr. Emily Jordan, to be dangerous. But I do know a lot about romance novels so I will have something knowledgeable to say in this letter.

Let me start off by saying there are a lot of issues going on here. Emily’s hectic life as a trauma doctor in the ER, Eric’s career as a high profile pro hockey player, Emily’s single motherhood and relationship with her 8 year old son, Robbie. Eric’s past as a brawler and loner. Emily’s past as an abused wife following her upbringing in a house ruled by her tyrannical father. Eric’s rough childhood with his single mom and his terrible first marriage with a gold-digging ho. And that’s all before Emily and Eric even meet and then have to work out their own relationship in this minefield of their pasts.

You handle all these fairly well. Some are more superficially relayed than others but I can tell you put a lot of time into researching all this and trying to make it realistic. However…I think there’s just too much stuff in this one book. Too many Traumatic Pasts, too many areas for misunderstandings – even if you do resolve a lot of these without letting them drag on past a few pages. There are just so many problems that have to be examined, dealt with and resolved for everyone to reach their HEA. By the end of the book, I was dragging and just wishing to finally get Eric and Emily together once and for all. I also felt they headed into marriage without discussing a lot of important issues such as the fate of the Saints and Eric’s playing career.

As for getting them together, it seems as if each 100 pages of the book would start with them warily eyeing each other, trying to work on a relationship, then something happens, and Emily pulls back leaving a bewildered Eric floundering as he tries to figure out where he went wrong. Rinse, repeat and start again. I got tired of Emily turning him away over and over. Eric has the patience of a saint – no pun on his team name intended – and is willing to try again a few more times than I believe any man would, even if he is fascinated by brainy women. He’s sweet, kind, loving, gentle, willing to give talks at schools, help out single mothers, drum up support for charities and is probably working on world peace in his spare time between hockey games. The man is simply too good to be true. But I did like how he shows his feelings for Emily by having her car repaired.

Emily is shown to be realistically dealing with being a single mom and a busy doctor. You do mention her grueling schedule, lack of sleep and having to be called back in to deal with an overflowing ER. I laughed my ass off at her comments about the bar brawlers. But actually, I think you did well in choosing her specialty since ER doctors don’t have rounds to make or regular patients to see. Thus she can schedule things to do and people to see during her off hours. I got frustrated with her apparent caving into her ex-husband’s demands not to see Eric even as she gives her battered ex-mother-in-law advice about fleeing her abusive marriage. But at least by the end of the book, Emily is standing on her own two feet and no longer cowed by Ryan.

At one point around midway in the story, I was wondering if we’d ever see Eric on the ice and as a hockey player. It took awhile but we finally got there. While the details might not be enough for a true hockey fanatic, they were good enough for someone who barely follows the sport. I think Eric’s – ahem – enthusiasm for mixing it up on the ice provides another realistic conflict in his relationship with Emily. But I don’t think that placing his team in the same city with another pro hockey team would get past hockey fans nor the outcome for the team after the season ends.

There’s a lot to like in this book, a lot that works. But there are enough problems I had and bookmarks I made while reading it to keep the overall grade at a C. For me, it would have worked better without quite so many issues to resolved. Oh, and maybe without the slightly sappy epilogue.

~Jayne

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