REVIEW: Knock Me for a Loop by Heidi Betts
Dear Ms. Betts:
I came across your book cleaning out my towering stash of review copies that needed sorting and sending out to the reviewers. I read the back and realized that it had a hockey hero. I love sports books and I set it aside to read. When I opened, it however, it started with some magical frou frou prologue that saw some grandmotherly type infusing magic into some yarn. The magic is used to bring couples together because why? Is it that humanity left to their own devices could never find love without the help of magic yarn? The yarn bit played no part in the story, merely book ended the book, appearing in the prologue and the last chapter.
But the yarn bit is emblematic of how the other distinguishing characteristics are treated: shallowly and without much thought. Grace Fisher, a daytime talk show host out of Cleveland, and Zack Hoolihan, the star goalie of the Cleveland hockey team, had a spectacular breakup after Grace found a girl in Zack’s hotel room during an away game. When Zack injures his knee and refuses to rehabilitate, only Grace can get him out of his doldrums and forced together, Grace must reexamine Zack’s claims of innocence.
Grace is fairly dumb. She goes to Zack’s room. He not only invites her in, but lifts her bodily into the room and then starts kissing her, assisting her in removing her clothes. As they move toward the bed, Grace notices a girl in lingerie propped up there. Her first thought isn’t that some groupie snuck in but that Zack cheated on her and what? just conveniently forgot the body of cheating evidence waiting for him on the bed? Strangely no one, not Grace, not her friends, or even Zack points out how ridiculous it is that he would have INVITED her in and proceeded to maneuver her toward the bed when he already had a chick there.
But then Zack is no brainiac:
Zack–formerly “Hot Legs”–Hoolihan sat in his wheelchair, left leg propped straight out in front of him, staring at the fifty-two-inch screen of the state-of-the-art plasma television taking up nearly every square inch of the far living room wall.
His friends had been so damn impressed when he’d bought the thing…Little did they know his main reason for replacing his perfectly good thirty-two-inch flat screen was because he’d needed something to hide the hole Grace had left.
First, a hockey player who has more money he can spend in three lifetimes (per the book) would not be amazed by a fifty two inch flat screen. Those can be bought for less than a grand. Neither would his professional hockey playing buddies be impressed by this. I don’t know many men that would be. Further, a fifty two inch screen that took up “nearly every square inch of the far living room wall” would mean that the living room was about 4 feet wide. I certainly hope that a professional athlete, making millions, would live in an apartment that had more space than a kindergartner laying down.
(What hockey trophy could Grace have stuck in the wall? I looked up a list of them and couldn’t find one that had an “ass end” that could hang out of the wall)
And you continued to make a big deal out his television:
“Give them a week and they’d be back, ready to watch the next big game on his fifty-two inch plasma…”
“He’d put up a gaint, flat-screen televeision–even bigger than his old one, which had been mammoth…”
But let’s move beyond the giant 52″ flat screen in the professional hockey player’s living room which is apparently the size of a single man tent to the hockey player himself. The plot here is that Zack refuses to start rehabilitating because he has been told he might not be able to play again. A star goalie of a professional hockey team is not going to be allowed to languish neither would his drive to compete, to be the best, allow him to do so. Someone from the team would be there, doing something. He probably would have a contractual obligation.
Zack had no motivation. He mentions nothing about his team. Doesn’t watch them on TV. Doesn’t miss the ice, the competition. Doesn’t even watch ESPN. He knits and watches soap operas.* Seriously what is the point of making Zack a professional athlete if you aren’t going to include ANYTHING about the sport at all. He doesn’t have any close teammates? No one from his team visits him in the 6 week span of this freaking book?
So maybe Zack is the Barry Bonds of his hockey team and no one likes or talks to him. Let’s move on to his injury. He has some problem with his knee but he “woke from surgery with a hip to toe cast.” What kind of knee problems involves a hip to toe cast? And if he has a hip to toe cast, he wouldn’t be a) in a wheelchair a month later and b) without a cast and c) having had missed three rehabilitation attempts already! And this is hockey. A brutal sport were fights are an accepted part of the game. A knee injury? That’s nothing to these guys.
Later in the book Zack agrees to do a photoshoot with Grace for her favorite underwear manufacturer, Inside Outs. Why would a daytime talk show host do underwear endorsements that could be worn on the outside? How does that fit the image? And you don’t think that Zack’s team would be incensed that he is off trotting to New York to get his picture taken when he’s supposed to be rehabbing his knee and preparing to get back in the game so that they can make the playoffs?
And why would a daytime talk show host like Grace be qualified to help him through rehabilitation like ensuring he is safely extracted from a shower or getting him dressed or moving him around (based on home exercises sent home by his orthopaedic surgeon??? This is a multi million dollar asset to a multi million dollar franchise!!!)
Oh details, right? What’s the point of details. This book isn’t about details, it’s about the love relationship between Grace and Zack. If it is not about the details, then why include them? Why make Zack a professional hockey player when none of his story revolves around actually being a hockey player. Why make Grace a daytime talk show host when none of her talk show hosting abilities are shown or discussed or part of the plot? They could be Zack, the plumber, and Grace, the rehab specialist. Frankly, they could be tchotchke one and tchotchke two for all the interest that they hold.
Half the time I wondered where the copyeditor was. Like the above reference to the tv size but also in lines like this that occur in a conversation about Grace liking soaps and maybe scoring a guest role on one of them:
“You angling for a daytime TV career now?” he asked.
She is a daytime TV talk show host. That is a daytime TV career. It’s not a primetime TV career. It’s not a radio career. It’s—I would :facepalm: here but my hand is sore from slapping my forehead so many times. And Grace went all Carrie Underwood Before He Cheats on Zack, destroying his Hummer, throwing his clothes out of his apartment window, etc. etc. Wouldn’t that have affected her talk show host status? It was never addressed because I guess that isn’t important to the romance, right?
The book wasn’t even about knitting. Sure ol’ Zack secretly knitted and so did his two BFFs, conveniently heroes of the two previous books in this trilogy but the knitting could have been totally removed and this would have been the same book about the plumber and underwear fetishist.
I managed to read to the end. I don’t know how. But then it had this:
“The noise in the Quicken Loans Arena was deafening. The Rockets were ahead by six points, and fans were going crazy with every new shot of the puck.”
The average goals scored in a game is usually less than 6 but you have them ahead by six points and scoring more? Maybe the yarn helped all of Zack’s teammates to have magical abilities? I don’t know much about hockey, I’ll admit, but nothing in this story rang true about professional sports or professional athletes. How was the romance? Who cares? I didn’t. I could not bring myself to care about underwear loving Grace and knitter Zack because it seemed like so little care was given to making the details of the story authentic. D
no Fictionwise | no Books on Board
*Zack expresses extreme embarrassment over watching soaps, but why? Common knowledge that athletes watch soaps. Several have been guest actors. Famously Mark Schlereth, a football player, had a recurring role that he lobbied hard for. ESPN wrote an article about athletes love for the soaps.
**I am not linking to the author’s website because I want her to come read but as a service for the readers in case they want to check out her books.
***This is a Macmillan book and thus the ebook list price is $14.00.