{Review+Kindle Fire Giveaway} OFF THE ICE by Julie Cross

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  SOMETHING COLD AND WET hits the side of my face. My braces clank against Haley's, and we both jump apart. I hear giggling coming from several feet away. When I turn my head, my sister, Jody, is sitting on a log, a clear plastic cup of ice in her hand. Her friend Claire O'Connor smacks her on the arm. "You are so mean."
  "He's my little brother. I'm supposed to torture him." 

(pg. 11, US e-ARC edition)

“I don't know why I thought this would be hard. It's not. 

But it's not easy, either. 


How long have we been walking toward this moment without knowing? Years, I bet.


While Julie Cross has written several novels at this point in her career, in multiple genres, it feels like she's written more sports-related romances than anything else, from baseball to gymnastics to ice hockey. In fact, while I've read quite a few books by her, the first one I read was her gymnastics-inspired LETTERS TO NOWHERE.  Her new series, Juniper Falls, debuts tomorrow with OFF THE ICE. The book takes place in Juniper Falls, a town obsessed with ice hockey. It alternates between Tate's story and Claire's. What's really cool off the bat is that Cross plays with relationship stereotypes and breaks them. It's always the girl pining after her older brother's best friend, right? Not this time. Tate is a junior in high school and his sister's best friend Claire is in college. When she returns home to take care of her dad, she's stunned by the way Tate has grown up and into himself, while Tate is the one with a childhood crush! How about them apples??

Claire couldn't wait to get away from Juniper Falls and make something of herself. She wants to be on Broadway someday and loves going to Northwestern. Her father develops a nearly inoperable brain tumor that, once removed, leaves him on a long recovery path, so she comes home to help manage his bar and take care of him alongside her mother. She's bitter about leaving school, but doesn't want to leave her dad when he's so ill, either. She certainly doesn't expect to fall for Little Tate Tanley, her best friend Jody's younger brother. She grew up with Tate and never saw him as someone she could fall for...until now.

Tate never planned for his junior year of high school to get so out of control. He expected to fly under the radar until senior year, but when something happens to the Varsity Goalie, he must step up to fill the position. Suddenly, everyone is counting on him to take them all the way to States, and he doesn't think he's good enough. He should have had another year to get read, and the pressure to be ready now is ridiculous. On top of that, his super-star hockey father is riding him to break NCAA rules so that players will attend the college where he coaches. His childhood crush, Claire O'Connor is back in town, and she's finally noticing him. But she has so much family baggage to deal with and doesn't really want a relationship. Plus, his ex-girlfriend Haley wants to get back together so that she can win the title of Princess at the upcoming dance. With so much going on, it's really hard for Tate to keep his head in the game and get the job he was thrust into done.

There are a lot of issues at play in OFF THE ICE. This isn't a straight-forward romance novel, which is nice. I like when there's more depth and the characters have to work a little harder to get together. A lot of teens have experienced having to take care of a sick parent no longer capable of doing so him/herself, and will connect with Claire and what she's going through. Do they stay in school? What if there are money issues? What if their parent dies or gets worse while they're away at school? This book needs to find its way into the hands of teens and young adults going through this situation. It also needs to find its way to those constantly on the edge because a parent is abusive in public, and perfect in private. They need to know they aren't the only ones to suffer, that there is help available, that friends and family love you and want the best for you. Cross is great at showcasing both issues in a way that makes them a part of life for Claire and Tate, not a way that's ever preachy. The circumstances just are.

There is, of course, a lot of ice hockey, too, so this is a great book for readers who love the sport--or just love reading about sports in general. It's nice that one of the POVs is male. Even though it's a romance, a lot of male readers may pick this one up because they can relate with Tate. There's a lot of sports talk in this book, especially when college is on the horizon. If boys can get past the fact that it's also a romance novel, they might find they really enjoy this one! There aren't enough sports-related books for guys, and this could be one of them if they let it. (Though I could see them reading it on an e-reader so as not to show their classmates the "girly" cover!)

Also? This book has one of the BEST scenes where two people say "I love you" for the first time. I obviously won't tell you about it because SPOILERS, but I loved the scene and how unique and fun and intriguing it was!

There are a lot of great themes and issues at play in OFF THE ICE, and it's definitely more than a straight-forward romance, so it should appeal to a lot of readers!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG15+ ( Kissing; sexual situations )
Language: PG13 ( Cursing, especially a lot of use of the f-bomb 
Violence: PG ( There's a fist fight where a deplorable character is pummeled after doing something horrible. There's also a scene where a father is drunk and accidentally breaks his son's arm. Neither scene is graphically described. )
Other:  PG13 ( Alcoholic, abusive fathers. Medically ill, recovering fathers. Secondary characters dealing with teenage pregnancy. A character is pinned outside by a random male but gets away before anything can happen. Underage drinking. )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I really like the way the title is sideways and not formatted traditionally. I also like the ice nature of the title's design.

The core itself is rather generic, but it works for its genre. You can tell it's about ice hockey and you can tell it's a romance. It tells you exactly what it is!!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Julie Cross
Release Date: Out February 28, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Received: ARC for Review


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.

Find it:

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Amazon | Indies | B&NKobo | TBD | iBooks 



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