Dear Ms. Denault:
I read this on the way to the Romantic Times convention. I’m in a hockey mood given the playoffs and it was the perfect book to read at the time.
This is a hard book for me to grade because I thought there was one component of the story that was better done than in many books featuring a lost love. On the other hand, I wished that the hero had been allowed / given more chances to show the heroine what she meant to him.
The Garrison boys and the Caplan girls have been friends since they were young children. The Caplan girls were left in the care of their aloof grandmother and found a home with the Garrison family. (There’s more romances between the Garrisons and Caplans although one of them has a kid with another girl so…is someone dying in the future? Anyway, I digress.)
Jordan Garrison was headed for the NHL at the age of eighteen and he wanted to share it with one person…Jessie Caplan but through a series of believable miscommunications and hurt feelings, what is supposed to be the happiness moment of his life turns out to be bittersweet when Jessie refuses to see him again.
Fast forward several years and Jessie gets a job as a therapist in Seattle where Jordan is currently playing on the Seattle pro team. Jordan wants her back. He’s always loved her but after she refused to see him after the draft, Jordan set out to sleep with every available puck bunny around.
The book is told, in part, in flashbacks and even though I don’t like that technique in stories, I felt it was effective here. What happened when Jessie and Jordan were teenagers was important to show both how much they meant to each other and how it all fell apart.
I thought the book did an extraordinary good job of showing the pain that Jessie experienced reading about Jordan’s exploits on the internet. At one point, she logs onto a private message board where puck bunnies exchange detailed versions of their encounters with various players. Jordan features heavily in many of them. The stories that she reads about Jordan are all too painfully accurate as she reads about how other women describe him in bed, the type of lovemaking he enjoys, certain moves, how he holds them, etc. The angst was really genuine and it helped to understand Jessie’s hurt and her wariness about becoming involved with Jordan again.
On Jordan’s part, I felt like he never did enough to pursue Jessie. At one point, Jordan’s told by Jessie’s sister that she waited for him to pursue Jessie, to put aside his hurt and really go after her. But he never does. That’s his character arc but he never has to work hard enough for Jessie. If he’d treated Jessie like he treated hockey, they would have been back together years ago. And I felt like Jessie deserved that pursuit.
Jessie grew the most in the story. She had to put aside her pain and perceived betrayal. She had to trust Jordan and pursue him despite what happened before. I felt that she was more vulnerable that Jordan and wished for a little more equality in the relationship. Overall, though, I enjoyed this angsty, sexy high school sweetheart story finding their way back together.