(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Series: Juniper Falls #1
Published by Entangled Teen on February 28th 2017
Genres: Coming of Age, Dating & Relationships, Dating & Sex, Family Life, Friendship, Love & Romance, Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
All is fair in love and hockey…
Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.
Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.
It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.
For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.
Claire O’Conner left the town of Juniper Falls far behind when she got accepted to Northwestern University to follow of her dreams on the big stage. When her father undergoes serious surgery, she returns—and with her the memories of what happened the night before she left.
I loved the chemistry in this novel. Claire had been Tate Tanley’s dream girl since he was eleven. One night changed everything between them, so when she returns, the feelings that came rushing in were even stronger than before. It is being said that this book is a realistic representation of young adult romance, and I agree. Finding how to make things work when everything was going so wrong would not be easy. Sometimes the two would push each other away when they should have leaned on each other for support.
I really liked Claire. She told half of the story and had a voice unique from Tate. She saw the town in a different way than anyone else in the town saw it. Everyone else saw hockey, hockey, and more hockey. Claire saw chains and a cage, and her vision coincided with how Tate felt about the town, only for different reasons. She didn’t want to be another one of those girls in Juniper Falls. She wanted bigger and better things. When her father’s health came into question, she dropped her dreams at the door and put family first. It made her character relatable and likeable. She cared about where she was going in life, but she wanted her father to be alive to see her succeed. That meant that she would put her hopes aside and help him get better. Claire had a story outside of Tate, but he was there to help her rediscover the girl that he had fallen for.
Tate’s life was changed drastically when he’s forced off the bench and on center ice. The town’s golden boy, Mike Steller, threw the town into a frenzy when he got the girl at the trailer park pregnant, gave up his rich boy status, and decided to man up. Hockey meant life or death, especially to the town’s poster boy for success, Tate’s dad, who had supposedly gone and done so much in the world of hockey. I felt sorry for Tate. He had ridiculous expectations to live up to and an entire town watching to see if he would soar or sink. I loved him and his voice.
One of my favorite parts of this novel is that the girl is older! Tate is only a junior in high school, and Claire is going into her sophomore year of college. And, shocker, no one cared about the age difference! What? I know, right? I loved it! It made for an even more enticing and interesting plot device. Tate, the boy that Claire had seen running around in his underwear and through the awkward braces years, was not a boy anymore. He was a Varsity hockey player in Juniper Falls. That meant something to this town. Claire wasn’t a girl in town anymore—she was the one who had lived a life outside of it, an enigma that caught the eyes of boys that had never glanced her way before. She and Tate went together perfectly. They had history and grit. They had trust and honesty. Sure, their relationship involved all the usual things that new relationships do, but unlike some, it had longevity.
I love sport romances, especially when the author includes all of the jargon associated with said sport and traps the reader in not just the characters’ stories, but also the story of the town. Cross captures the essence of small town life and love in the purest of forms. I can’t wait to return to these characters and discover the lives of the other inhabitants of Juniper Falls.