All Laced Up by Erin Fletcher
(Website, Twitter)Series: Breakaway #1
Published by Entangled Teen Crush on October 10th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Dating & Relationships, Love & Romance, Romance, Sports & Recreation, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
Everyone loves hockey superstar Pierce Miller. Everyone except Lia Bailey.
When the two are forced to teach a skating class to save the rink, Lia’s not sure she’ll survive the pressure of Nationals and Pierce’s ego. Not only can’t he remember her name, he signed her bottle of water like she was one of his groupies. Ugh.
But if there’s one thing Lia knows better than figure skating, it’s hockey. Hoping to take his ego down a notch—or seven—she logs into his team website under an anonymous name to give him pointers on his less-than-stellar playing.
Turns out, Pierce isn’t arrogant at all. And they have a lot in common. Too bad he’s falling for the anonymous girl online. No matter how much fun they’re starting to have in real life, she’s afraid he’s going to choose fake-Lia over the real one…
Disclaimer: This book contains a swoony hockey player (and his equally swoony friends!), one-too-many social media accounts, kisses that’ll melt ice, and a secret identity that might not be so secret after all…
Lia Bailey did not like Pierce Miller. He was the arrogant, pompous jerk that couldn’t even bother to show up on time for the workshop she got roped into teaching alongside him. It spelled the perfect enemies to lovers trope and did not disappoint in swoony kisses and meaningful conversations, with a little mystery thrown into the mix.
If only I didn’t have wobbly ankles, this could be my story. Ha! No. I have no coordination and strong ankles wouldn’t help much. First, I loved how the story was built. Fletcher gave us a hockey prodigy and an insecure ice skater and threw them together without their consent. I loved it. It was told in dual perspectives, which is always a favorite of mine, and I enjoyed getting to know the characters beyond how they saw each other. Lia had a lot of misconceptions about Pierce, and Pierce had his head in the clouds, steadily riding with his fame, that a dose of reality (through his brother) and a girl like Lia were just what he needed.
Lia spoke to the insecure girls of the world, the ones that, even though everyone argues that it is not the case, still don’t see themselves as the amazing women they are. She was real, and her ability on the ice didn’t give her inflated ego but kept her on steady ground—steady skates, if you will. Her voice was fresh and honest, and I liked that even though she felt more comfortable with a toe pick, she knew hockey.
Lia introduced Pierce, so I didn’t know what to expect from him. At first, I thought he was going to be the stereotypical jock—in love with himself and only the game matters—but he was so much more than that. He was the jock, hockey player to be specific, that we all dream about whenever we dive into a sports romance. His inflated ego covered so much of his actual self, and the scenes with his little brother, when he chatted with Superfan01, and when he finally let Lia in, were what made his side of the story so wonderful.
There were a few cases of bad communication in the story, but they didn’t deduct from the plot but strengthened it. Lia and Pierce made decisions that every teenager would and had a believable quality, even though they were incredibly talented on the ice. They showed that talent doesn’t take you everywhere, and those that really want to succeed have to work for it.
Oh goodness, this story was just too darn adorable. It had heart and meaning, realistic family dynamics, and a romance that is sure to have you squealing with delight. All Laced Up is a one-click buy that you’re going to want to indulge in.
Even though it was cold in the rink, sweat was beading on the back of my neck. Pierce hadn’t shown up, but all twenty-two of the kids had. Twenty-one of them were currently lined up against the wall, waiting for the workshop to start. However, I couldn’t get started because the twenty-second child, a tiny five-year-old named Olivia, would not stop crying.
Olivia had weak ankles and seemingly zero balance. She’d fallen the second her blades hit the ice. She fell again while trying to get up. She fell while holding onto the wall. She fell while moving. She fell while standing still.
And each time she fell, she cried a little harder.
Now, I was holding Olivia up on the ice on her wobbly ankles and trying to soothe her. The little girl wasn’t injured, just frustrated. If I let her get off the ice now, chances were good she’d never step back onto it again. If the tears would stop for just a few minutes, I would be able to help get her feet under her and we could go from there. But either one of those tasks would take individual attention I didn’t have time to give.
“Olivia, please stop crying and I’ll help you, okay? I’m not going to let go until you’re ready, but you have to stop crying so I can talk to the other kids.”
Apparently Olivia interpreted this to mean “scream at the top of your lungs.” I was about to resort to bribery in the form of candy from the snack bar when another skater hopped on the ice from the far door. I glanced up and relief flooded my limbs.
Pierce was here after all.
“Sorry I’m late.” He skated over and came to a hockey stop just a foot or two away from me, sending a spray of ice shavings everywhere. All over me. All over Olivia. All over the closest four or five kids on the wall. He brushed a few of them off, seemingly unsure of what to do with his hands when he got to me. “Er…sorry.”
“Whoa,” one of the older kids said. “I want to learn how to do that.”
Olivia stopped crying. Twenty-one jaws dropped open, but mine wasn’t one of them. No, I was too busy gawking. You’d think I’d never seen him before, but whoa. Pierce was hot. Possibly hotter than the last time I’d seen him. Tall with light brown hair and a body that showed just how much he worked out. Hazel eyes with more green than brown. Something about his jaw made him seem older than he actually was.
But then he had to use that jaw to open his mouth.
“It’s Mia, right?”
Four years at the same school and the same rink and he could only get 66 percent of the letters in my name correct? “Lia. With an L.”
Olivia started whimpering, so I hushed her in what I hoped was a soothing way.
“Lia,” Pierce echoed. He didn’t bother introducing himself, as if everyone knew who he was. Which they did, but still.
“You’re Pierce Miller,” said one of the older boys who was wearing a hockey helmet way too big for his head. “My dad says you’re going to play for the Red Wings.”
Pierce turned toward the row of young skaters, as if noticing them for the first time. “I hope so, little man.”
“I saw you on YouTube!” one of the girls said. Though her outfit was predominately pink, she was wearing a tiny pair of hockey skates.
I was so distracted by the kids’ hero-worship that Olivia slipped out of my grasp, fell, and started crying again.
“I’m sorry, Olivia,” I said as I picked the little girl up and struggled to set her on her skate blades again. The muscles in my back were starting to protest being stooped over for so long.
“I want to skate!” one of the kids said.
“Yeah,” another echoed.
The start of a riot. Crap. Like it or not, I was going to have to ask Pierce for help. “Look, you can either take her,” I said, nodding to Olivia, “or—”
Before I could finish the other option, Pierce scooped Olivia up and settled her against his hip, her skates hanging down toward his knees. Instantly, her tears stopped.
“Olivia, is it?” Pierce asked. “‘Atta girl. You’re okay.”
That wasn’t what I had wanted him to do. Picking her up was just as bad as taking her off the ice. Now he wouldn’t be able to put her down, and when he did, she’d just fall or start crying again. But there was nothing I could do about that now, and I had the rest of the kids to worry about.
“Okay, everyone. I want you to let go of the wall and step out in front of you, just like you’re walking,” I said. One of the kids fell and knocked two others down, but the rest stayed on their feet. “Good job, guys! Now pick up your feet, one at a time.”
The kids went back and forth across the rink like that, sometimes falling, always crashing into the hockey boards both because they didn’t know how to stop and because it was hilarious enough to cause a fit of laughter every single time. Once they mastered walking, they started pushing off with each foot and gliding, picking up a little speed. I grabbed push bars for the few kids who fell the most, but the others seemed okay.
Every once in a while, I glanced over at Pierce and Olivia. He carried her in his arms for a few minutes, and then put her back down on the ice with his hands supporting her under her armpits. Surprisingly, there were no tears. He skated around the rink with her like that for a while. I got distracted while trying to teach the kids forward swizzles, and the next time I looked over, Olivia was on her own; still weak-ankled and wobbly, but not falling. Even better, she was smiling.
Not that Pierce would have noticed. Now that his hands were free, his phone was out of his pocket, and he was frantically typing something with his thumbs. He was smiling, too.
Texting a girl, maybe?
“Straight to the Olympics with this one,” he said without looking up from his phone as they skated by me and the rest of the group.
“I want to go to the Olympics!” one of the little girls yelled right before falling on her butt.
“Me too,” another girl said before tripping over the first.
“Okay, okay.” I helped both of them back to their feet. “Swizzles first. Olympics second.” And apparently not at all if Pierce was their teacher. But I kept that comment to myself. I glanced up at the clock on the scoreboard. Not nearly enough time had passed. I was already more exhausted than if I’d run a long program full-out four times in a row.
It was going to be a long ten weeks.
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