Dear Ms. Martin:
My favorite books have always been your hockey books and I’ve recommended “Body Check” to any number of readers looking for a modern contemporary romance. We were given locker rooms scenes and game scenes and while none of it may have been authentic, it felt authentic to me. We then detoured into a number of books involving non hockey players and found ourselves in Ireland. “Breakaway” attempts to bring the hockey to Ireland but unfortunately the only real sports connection is that the hero is a hockey player. The focus of “Breakaway” is on the reunited lovers theme.
The male protagonist is Rory Brady, the first Irish born hockey player to play for the New York Blades. He dated a girl from Balleycraig, Ireland, for eight years and promised he would marry her. When he left for the NHL, he was going to bring her with him, but once he arrived on U.S. soil he promptly forgot her caught up in living the high life as a professional athlete in New York City.
Erin O’Brien was stuck in her village, slaving away for her parents and dreaming of getting an art degree. She gave Rory an ultimatum that they marry or they are done. So he breaks up with her. He essentially leaves everyone in Balleycraig behind, including his best friend. Two years later Rory decides he has made a mistake.
I thought, based on the blurb and set put, that this would be a redemption story and that Rory would have to suffer consequences of his actions in order to win over his best friend and win back his girl. Unfortunately there was no comeuppance. Rory waltzes in. His best friend, Jake, forgives him. Erin takes him back without almost no whimper. What makes it even more sad was that Jake, the nice steady guy, tried to woo Erin after Rory left her and at the cusp of the two of them exploring something deeper than a close friendship, Rory returns and Erin can’t take her pants off fast enough.
I didn’t understand Erin at all. She had a wonderful man who was ready to commit to her, but instead she readily accepts Rory back into her life who left her two years ago. I didn’t feel that the depiction was consistent with Erin’s portrayal as someone stuck in a rut, unable to muster the courage to leave her village to explore the big world beyond and pursue her dreams. Settling into a marriage with her best friend Jake would have made more sense than sliding back into a relationship with Rory. Returning to Rory’s arms with no resistance after stating that she was mistrustful and hurt led to a story with little conflict.
Eerin’s inaction creates a certain aura of passive aggressiveness. If she wanted to leave so badly, why didn’t she? Unanswered was whether she didn’t love Jake because he represented stagnation and wanted Rory because he represented the incarnation of her own dreams – success outside in the big world, a conflict that might have retained some interest. Yet, if that were the case then the romance isn’t true because Erin doesn’t love Rory for who he is (and who would, really) but rather what he represents.
It is a small town setting but the small town relies too much on quirky characters to give it personality such as the three brothers who seem to be an Irish version of Larry, Curly and Moe. Three dumb and loose lipped individuals we see only in the Balleycraig pub and only as set up characters for Rory’s actions.
Rory seemed to exemplify the rich jock who treats everyone shabbily and gets only accolades in return. There wasn’t anything compelling about him. He never suffered or wanted for success, love, or even happiness. A conflict arising out of Erin’s fear of independence came far too late. A disappointing entry in the Blades series. C-