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Juniper Falls #1

Off the Ice

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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 But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie.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.

320 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 28, 2017

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About the author

Julie Cross

36 books1,693 followers
Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin's Press). She's also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more!

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5 stars
208 (19%)
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374 (35%)
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355 (33%)
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105 (9%)
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17 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 215 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,727 reviews1,279 followers
March 15, 2017
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to Entangled Publishing, LLC and NetGalley.)

This was a YA contemporary romance featuring a high-school hockey player.

The characters in this were okay, but I found it a bit hard to relate to them. I did feel a bit sorry for Claire with her having to deal with her dad’s cancer, and for Tate having to deal with an abusive father, but I just found it hard to connect with them.

The storyline in this was about Claire dealing with her father’s cancer and working in his bar, and about Tate being scouted for college hockey teams. We did get some romance between the two, but it was really slow and got a bit lost for me, and I didn’t feel sucked into the story the way I expected to.

The ending to this was okay, but I was disappointed with the book overall.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,161 reviews1,517 followers
March 7, 2017
Claire O’Connor didn't think she would be back in her home town so soon but after only a year away at college she's had to return to help take care of her ailing father and the family business. With the bills piling up Claire struggles to keep her family afloat and hopes her dreams of returning to school don't slip out of her grasp.

Claire soon finds herself crossing paths with Tate Tanley again after returning home. Tate is slightly younger than Claire but the two grew up together and before Claire had left she found herself in the middle of a secret with Tate when his father abused him. After the year away Claire finds that the boy she once knew has now grown into a man and she finds herself drawn to him.

Off the Ice is a young adult contemporary romance read that for me seemed to just be a bit too slow paced for my taste. The story had a lot of different things going on in the read that seemed to take away from the romance but with so many things such as Claire and Tate both struggling with their families, Tate's hockey career, previous relationships etc this all seemed to bog down the story and each get a bit lost here and there.

Also, while reading this one with so much going on in the story and the book being a bit lengthy in my opinion for this type of read I struggled with believing these characters would even come together. Tate was said to be a year younger than Claire but only in his junior year of high school I believe so I find it odd that Claire returning from college would be interested. Of course I also argued they did have somewhat of a past so maybe it was possible. In the end though I'd say this one was simply an OK read overall.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
Profile Image for Jen ♥Star-Crossed Book Blog♥.
518 reviews317 followers
April 17, 2019
Off the Ice was my first book from Julie Cross and I was completely enraptured. I loved how it was sweet and adorable, while also being deep and emotional. It was the best of both worlds. So if you're a fan of young adult, or sports romances, then definitely check this one out. I'm so glad I did!
All the threads of my life, my future, have changed or been pulled away from me, but this… This bridge between Tate and me somehow emerged in the midst of everything falling apart.

I knew that I was going to like this book, just from the prologue. We got taken back in time, right before Claire O'Connor left for college. We watched Claire hang out with her friend Jody at a party. And even Jody's younger brother, Tate Tanley, was there. It was such a normal, relatable scene and I loved how comfortable they all were with each other. You could tell they had been friends since they were kids. But what felt like a cute YA romance, quickly took a turn into something so much more. Watching Tate deal with his drunken dad pulled on my heart. And that one night ended up connecting Claire and Tate in a way neither one of them saw coming. After that we jumped ahead one year, and I was shocked by how much their lives had changed.
I used to think all of this wasn’t real and Juniper Falls was just my life before it got real. Now everything I wanted before, it’s all just unicorns. Shiny, gratuitous unicorns. - Claire

I absolutely adored Claire. While she had been deemed as different than her classmates, she was always sweet and endearing in my eyes. Plus she had this innocence to her that made me want to protect her from the world. Especially when her father got cancer. Claire ended up pausing her college career and coming back home. She wanted to help take care of her family and their business. Watching Claire with her dad broke my heart. Cancer is such a horrific disease and it was portrayed in such an accurate manner. We saw how it affected Claire and her whole family. Nothing was glossed over and it was extremely emotional.
“I hate him. I hate him so much it makes me hate myself.” He whispers the words with his eyes still closed, like it’s wrong for him to say them but yet he needs to.

While Claire's world changed, Tate's did too in an entirely different way. Tate ended up becoming the school's starting hockey goalie a year earlier than he planned. But it felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. I never realized how intense hockey games were and I caught myself holding my breath. But Tate's life wasn't just about winning and losing games. His dad was always in the background. While his dad was seen as the town's hockey hero, to Tate he was a mean and manipulative drunk. My heart hurt for Tate. Tate was one of the good guys who deserved his HEA! He was sexy, took control and I loved how he easily made others feel safe, loved and secure. Sigh.
I don’t know why I thought this would be hard. It’s not. But it’s not easy, either.
inevitable .
How long have we been walking toward this very moment without knowing? Years, I bet.

While they were both drowning in their own worlds, Tate and Claire kept running into each other. And while they had a familiar friendship that spanned years, there was also something else there. Butterflies, flirting, stolen looks and touches kept happening. And we watched as they found solace in each other. They had no problem talking about the hardships in their lives and being honest with each other. They had a true and beautiful friendship. But they were friends and he was her friend's younger brother. Nothing should happen between them. Right?
Something twists inside my chest. My own heart is breaking. No, it’s gluing back together. It’s doing both. I don’t know…
I just know that I got my wish. I got the kiss I’ve been dreaming about for years.

As we alternated between Claire and Tate and I found myself with tears in my eyes. For Claire's heartfelt and also gut wrenching moments with her dad. To Tate and Claire being completely honest with each other. This book was extremely emotional. But there was also sweet moments like watching Tate's relationship with his stepfather unfold. Plus I loved when Tate spent time with his friends, Leo and Jamie. I could easily read a book about each of them! So yes, I definitely recommend this book! It was filled with life lessons of going after what you want, forming relationships and having faith in yourself. I absolutely adored Off the Ice and I'm definitely looking forward to picking up the next book in this series!

For more of my reviews, please visit:
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Profile Image for Annika.
450 reviews101 followers
June 25, 2017

I'm sad to say that, while I positively ADORED Julie Cross's Third Degree, her latest release Off the Ice didn't really do it for me.
Up until the 70% mark, the story was hardly able to hold my attention for more than a few chapters at a time, which is why it took me so long to finally get through it. And while I'd love to blame the issues I had with this book on the book funk I've been in lately, I know that wasn't the reason. The pacing was just so incredibly slow, and though the romance was kind of cute, I was bored most of the time.
The saving grace of this book, and what made me decide on 3 stars eventually, were the last 30% when finally, finally, things started happening.

Still, the characters were very likable (I was particularly fond of Tate's team-mates and their adorable bromance), the plot was emotionally charged but not draining, and although the pacing was way too slow for me, I really like Julie Cross's easy yet engaging style of writing.
We head outside again, and before we can hop in Leo's truck, Jamie comes at me, his arms spread wide. I take a step back, eyeing him. "Dude, what are you doing?"
"I'm fucking hugging you." He doesn't stop. He keeps moving closer. Jamie gets his arms around me and gives my back a huge thump with his hand. I pat his awkwardly. Over his shoulder, I glance at Leo. He shrugs like he's as confused by this as I am.

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Irene.
1,852 reviews119 followers
March 8, 2017
4 stars

I really enjoyed Off the Ice by Julie Cross.
The storyline was well written, the characters Tate and Claire were likable, entertaining and I loved watching the relationship develop.

Overall, Off the Ice was a quick and heartwarming read, a great start to the Juniper Falls series.


Buy your copy now ~
Amazon: http://bit.ly/OffTheIce
B&N: http://bit.ly/JuniperFalls1

*A big thank you to Entangled Teen via Netgalley for the advance copy*

Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews703 followers
February 16, 2017
3.5 stars

I had really enjoyed the other sports book that Julie had written, so I was pretty excited about this.

I liked Claire and Tate well enough. They're both good people in difficult situations and they both handle it as well as they can. When they finally get to supporting each other, it was fantastic.

There was a lot of background story and a lot of characters. It was a bit more drama filled than I was expecting and I wish we would have gotten a bit more of an epilogue, but I'm just being greedy.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read and I'm intrigued to see who the next book will be about.

**Huge thanks to Entangled Teen for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Siobhan Davis.
Author 117 books8,069 followers
March 10, 2017
I read Chasing Truth by Julie Cross a few months back and absolutely adored it so I was super excited to get my hands on this book, especially because I love me some hockey romance. While I did enjoy this book, and I'm definitely invested in this series, I have to admit to being a bit disappointed with certain aspects of it.

Tate's sister is besties with Claire O'Connor - the local publican's daughter. They live in a small town where everyone knows everyone's business. Claire is a talented musician and actress and she has moved away to college when we first meet her. Fast forward and she's back in town to help mind her very sick dad and to help run the family business. Tate has broken up with his girlfriend, has just landed a coveted place on the hockey team and he appears to be going places, but he's hiding some pretty shocking secrets and almost buckling under the pressure.

Both Tate and Claire were complex characters who were wonderfully developed. I felt every emotion as if I was living and breathing it myself. It was gritty and raw and downright painful at times. Julie deals with some difficult subject matter in this book but she deals with it extremely well. It isn't dramatized or glossed over and it's handled realistically and sensitively. We have a horrid example of a parent in Tate's dad but that scenario is beautifully contrasted with Tate's stepfather Roger and Claire's parents, who were both fantastic and it was clear they loved their daughter so much and only wanted the best for her.

I adored the hockey aspect and it was the perfect balance for me - enough detail without pulling me out of the story.

All the side characters were very well developed and I love Jamie and Leo in particular and I sincerely hope they are getting their own books as I really want to read them.

The romance is angsty and there is lots of toing and froing but I have to say, it got way too frustrating, and it takes a lot for me to say that because usually, I love that type of romance but I felt it was taken to extremes here. All they did was constantly shut each other out (especially Claire) and I wanted to throttle both of them. However, the main reason this is a lower-star rating is because it was so slow in the first half - the plot was not moving forward and I was struggling to maintain interest. My personal view is you could cut about twenty-five per cent out of the first half ('cause it's a decent length as it stands) and not lose anything. I felt like giving up on several occasions but I hate doing that so I persevered. I'm really glad I did because the second half was superb and everything I was expecting and hadn't seen in the first half of the book.

The writing is excellent and I certainly can't fault the characterization. My issues were with plot development and pacing, in the main.

By the end though, I was definitely hooked and I totally want to continue with this series. I'll be anxiously awaiting Leo, Jamie, and Jake's books.

1st half rating - 2.5 stars. 2nd half rating - 5 stars. Overall actual rating = 3.75 stars.

Thanks to Entangled Teen for providing an ARC of this book which I have voluntarily reviewed. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. This review will appear on my blog on March 16th - http://myyanabookobsession.com
Profile Image for Hristina.
515 reviews78 followers
February 15, 2017
There is so much to love about this book. Well-developed characters that jump off the page - check. Characters that don't act like spoiled twelve-year-olds all the time - check. Intriguing story - check. Swoony romance - check. Storyline and plot points that aren't overused - check. A good writing style - check.
I seriously enjoyed this book. Lovers of YA and romance will love this book.

Note: there is mature content in this book, so consider yourselves warned.

Copy received through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
Profile Image for Tanya (Girl Plus Books).
1,002 reviews76 followers
February 28, 2017

Claire has returned home from college to help the family business while her father recuperates from a life-threatening illness. Assuming staggering responsibilities, helping run the business and dealing with financial debt, Claire is dealing with a lot. But spending time with Tate, the guy she had previously only thought of as her best friend's younger brother, helps her step away from the responsibilities and have something just for herself.

Tate is dealing with school, an ex-girlfriend, a fractured relationship with his father, and he's just been named the starting goalie for his team. The pressure is intense and he is floundering. He's had feelings for Claire for years and with her back at home he finds himself seeking her out again and again. When little else in his life is making sense, Claire seems to be the one thing that does.

Off the Ice started a bit rocky for me. I felt like some things weren't explained well and I was a little murky on details (and readers like me with zero hockey knowledge are at a bit of a disadvantage). Even so, I was quickly invested in the story which was made easy with such genuinely likable main characters. Both Claire and Tate were mature young adults with a lot on their shoulders. They had great chemistry (those kissing scenes - whoa, baby!) and I loved their honesty and openness with each other. (There is one sex scene that is handled perfectly, with tenderness and humor and just felt so genuine.) These were characters that truly had each other's best interest at heart and were incredibly supportive of one another.

There were a lot of themes touched on within the novel (some could argue perhaps too many) and covered the extreme pressure in competitive sports, illness of a parent, abuse, friendship, and the transition into young adulthood. Even with so much going on I never felt anything was glossed over or treated as a cliché. Instead, Cross managed to create complex main characters that were anything but cookie cutter. Not only were Claire and (the oh-so-swoony) Tate well developed but there was also a full cast of secondary characters that made for a richer story. (Is it too early to hope that the next Juniper Falls book focuses on Tate's best friend, Leo?)

Off the Ice is a solid mature YA contemporary romance filled with emotional topics and tempered with all the romance of first love. I recommend this one to fans of YA contemporary and sports romance and I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Natalia.
254 reviews59 followers
March 12, 2018
I'm not sure what I expected when I started this book, but it wasn't this. It's not that I didn't like the book, but I was a bit disappointed, because for some reason I expected a lot more. The story basically follows Tate, a hockey player, who has a lot of problems with his dad and Claire, a talented musician that returned suddenly after her fathers illness. The plot wasn't that bad, but for some reason I just couldn't relate at all with the characters.
Both Tate and Claire had serious problems, but I couldn't take them seriously. The way they were handling everything just seemed over dramatic.
The romance story line wasn't bad and I shipped them. All of their arguments really annoyed me, but otherwise they were cute.
Overall an entertaining book, but nothing special either.
Profile Image for Quinn's Quippy Quotes.
1,314 reviews111 followers
February 6, 2023
This had some potential but just didn’t grab my attention like the last book by Cross that I read. It did give me some vibes that reminded me of The Deal by Elle Kennedy though. I told myself that if I loved this, I would continue with the series, but I didn’t enjoy it enough to purchase the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Madison.
1,065 reviews59 followers
February 6, 2017
Confession: I didn't read the summary before deciding I wanted to read this book. All I needed to know was that it is written by Julie Cross and I was in. I love her contemporary novels.

At first, Off The Ice could have been any teen-y, high school drama, hockey novel. But let's not forget that it's written by Julie Cross, so pretty soon the characters started to expand and deepen in complexity, the situation got more complicated and basically it became totally addictive.

I was a little confused at first (probably because I didn't read the summary) about who our main characters were and how they were connected. Tate is the younger brother of Claire's best friend. The prologue starts the story and gives readers an insight into the big event of Claire's last night in town that connects her and Tate. And it's not something romantic, like I assumed. Instead it is far more complicated and terrible. At this point Tate has his own girlfriend but he has always had a crush on his sister's best friend. It's just that Tate was never on Claire's radar and certainly not romantically. Now, one year later Claire is back in Juniper Falls and dealing with her own family problems. One glance at Tate and she suspects that his problems haven't disappeared either. And also...Tate isn't the scrawny kid he used to be.

The middle part of this book just stretched for me. And I don't mean that in a bad, it-was-boring way. Instead it lengthened in all the right ways, letting the situation and romance and complications develop naturally rather than being rushed. This allowed the readers to really get to know both Claire and Tate better, as well as getting to know some of the other characters more. I would have happily stayed in that middle section forever.

This story also raises some important issues, like small towns where sport is valued over family and responsibility (and common decency), and family relationships and violence.

Here's what I loved most about Tate and Claire's relationship:
- Tate. Because he is so incredibly amazing with Claire. He is dealing with so much and he still goes out of his way to be there for her. He is patient, understanding, and, inside his head at least, vulnerable and scared about his feelings.
- Their open conversations. Tate and Claire discuss things and that makes for a fantastic relationship.
- That sense of peace when they are together. They just work.
- That their age difference is never an issue.

I would classify this book is New Adult or mature Young Adult rather than Young Adult, both because of mature sexual content and because of the characters' ages. Claire is already at college, and their focus on coming of age, growing up, moving on, and deciding what comes next for their future.

The absolute best thing about this book is that it is book one in the Juniper Falls series and that means there are going to be more books!!! Already I can see so many possibilities for secondary characters in this book to have a chance to tell their story and I can't wait.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library.
Profile Image for Danielle's.
Author 1 book140 followers
December 11, 2017
Off the Ice is Tate and Claire.

Tate is the backup hockey goalie. He is in his junior year at high school. His dad is famous in the ice hockey world and he lives with his mum and stepdad. He's dating one of the most beautiful girls in school and is doing pretty well academically. To the outside world he has everything, but if you take a closer look he is juggling more than most can handle. He can't be the guy his girlfriend wants him to be. He can't be the hockey player his dad wants. Tate is given the chance to get off the bench and be in the net, but he needs to control his nerves. He needs to fight for what he wants and stop trying to please everyone else. He and Hayley break-up. It's tough, but he knows it's the right thing to do. No one ever said getting what you want is easy. Life's complicated and we all have to find the right path for us.

Claire is Tate's long-term crush. She's a couple of years older and one of his sister's close friends. She has returned to town because her dad is ill. She is also juggling more than any one person can manage. She's helping the family business, trying to hold it together and find a way to make more money. Her dreams were left behind at university. She wants to be a star but her family means more to her.

Little Tate Tanley is all grown up and Claire finds herself looking at him in a different light. They have been through a lot together. They became each other's rock, their constant and trusted friend. They both have a lot going on around them but their bond is strong. This is a love everlasting story, which is more than insta-love. It grows. Loves hard, but with the right person, it's worth it.

I really enjoyed this book. It had a realistic storyline with a lot of backgrounds. Both characters are perfect for each other but struggle with the rest of life.

This book contains adult content 16+ (u.k).

4.5 stars out of 5.

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Lynndell.
1,528 reviews1 follower
February 28, 2017
Actually, 4.5 stars!
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Off the Ice by Julie Cross. This first book in her Juniper Falls series is told by Tate and Claire through alternating points of view beginning in the prologue. The story picks up one year later in Chapter One. Claire is two years older than Tate and she has taken a semester off of college because her dad has an inoperable brain tumor and she wants to be with him and help him and her mother. Tate is a high school junior and a varsity hockey player. The two have known each other since they were children and now their friendship is growing into something more. Tate feels like he has to live with his father overshadowing everything he does and it's suffocating him. Tate and Claire each have their own problems to deal with while trying to figure out their relationship and their future plans. A mature and realistic story line shows that being a young adult isn't always easy and the people around you are either helpful or harmful. 4.5 stars for a young adult story with the gritty situations that make it feel real!
Profile Image for Melissa.
750 reviews134 followers
February 24, 2017
Drama, characters with story lines that go well beyond the surface level whether the novel is in their POV or not, and realistic dialogue and situations make Off the Ice a hit with me. The Friday Night Lights with hockey comparison is particularly apt because there is a balance between the sports and romance plot lines that one doesn't often see in sports romance books.

Today's teens and adults alike will be dying to go back to Juniper Falls to see what the future holds for other characters, including, hopefully, Tate's friends, Jaime and Leo.
Profile Image for Deborah Kehoe.
Author 1 book21 followers
April 26, 2019
Claire O’Connor’s back in Juniper Falls because of an all hands on deck family emergency. Helping get her family’s restaurant and sports bar back on solid footing after her father’s stroke is more important than being at school. Tate Tanley was her best friend’s little brother and when she catches sight of him she wonders where that little boy that she shared a secret with the night before she went to school went. Now he’s the goalie of their high school hockey team and all grown up and that secret brings them back together.

I recently read the third book in this series, On Thin Ice, when I got an ARC through NetGalley and was rewarded by reading a really good story! I immediately went to my local library to take a look at the other books in the series. Off the Ice is the first and it also didn’t disappoint. These characters are dealing with so much more than a high school romance. The stories are packed with emotional plots and Off the Ice’s is another doozy.

There were so many things I liked about Clair and Tate. Even though Claire always dreamed of a life outside of her small town of Juniper Falls, her family was the most important thing in her life and she dropped following her dreams to come home and help out when her father grew ill. I did struggle a little bit with her waffling over whether she should give Tate a chance but then we’d have lost a little bit of the tension that kept the story moving forward. Tate was a fabulous character. He was dealing with a dud of a father, pressure as the new goalie on the team, and a recent break up with his long time girlfriend. He was singleminded in his pursuit of both Claire and his game that you couldn’t help but admire how he was dealing with all of this pressure. I really liked how he helped Claire see her future both at school but also with him. They were well matched.

I love contemporary novels with a hint of romance that revolve around sports. Especially if they are actually playing the game! This novel had quite a bit of hockey being played which made it even more enjoyable to me. If that’s not your thing, I think you’ll really appreciate how these characters grow and become each others anchor through some of the crappy things that are happening in their lives. Either way, it’s a book to enjoy and I’ll be reaching for the second in the series next. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,120 reviews1,348 followers
March 10, 2017

Julie Cross turned me into a fan of her books with her baseball YA, Whatever Life Throws At You. It was a refreshing and totally made me fall in love with her writing. When I saw the announcement for Off the Ice, I was very excited because it was another sports romance, this time hockey, and I was sure it would be a hit. While I loved the writing, and parts of the romance, I thought there was too much going on in the story, which left me feeling disconnected as a whole.

Claire and Tate were very likeable characters and their honesty and genuineness immediately made me like them. They are both dealing with a lot of personal issues, and it’s sort of heartbreaking to watch two people so young dealing with so much in their lives. I wholeheartedly sympathized with them, but part of me felt like their backstories were too much, like the author tried to cram as much as possible – there’s abuse, sick parents, mounting pressure, asshole teammates and more. Ultimately, that led to the book not being as strong as it could have been. I also sometimes struggled to differentiate between Claire and Tate’s voices. All the chapters have headers, but whenever I’d skip them, I had to go back and check who it was.

The romance between Claire and Tate worked for me for the most part. They had great chemistry, and their maturity levels helped them click well emotionally. I liked that they were a couple that was comfortable talking with each other. There was so much potential between them though and I didn’t feel like we got to see them together as much as I would have liked. One thing is for sure, Julie Cross knows her way around a steamy kissing scene and she is definitely talented at writing solid romances. I also liked some of the relationships that Tate had with his friends and teammates. Hockey was definitely a part of this book, but again, I would have liked more focus on it than on some of the angstier storylines.

Off the Ice wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was hoping for more romance and more hockey, and less of the other side stories. I’m still going to read the next book in the series, but now I know what to expect so hopefully it will be more enjoyable.
Profile Image for Taylor Fenner.
Author 12 books108 followers
February 28, 2017
Originally posted on: Taylor Fenner's Bookish World

One year ago eighteen-year-old Claire O'Connor left her small Minnesota town to study music at Northwestern University. The night before she left two events forged the path that would set the course of her return to town. After a near hook up with Luke Pratt, the guy she's had a crush on for a long time ends in disaster she flees the apartment over the bar her family owns just in time to see her best friend Jody's father verbally then physically attack Jody's younger brother, Tate. Claire inserts herself into the argument and realizes that in his drunken rage Tate's father has broken Tate's arm. Claire takes him to the hospital and later makes him promise to never stop being the sweet guy he is, to never turn into a hockey player player.

A year later, after her father was diagnosed and treated for a supposedly inoperable brain tumor, Claire is back in town to help keep the family business afloat. Nothing about Juniper Falls, Minnesota has changed. Hockey is still the only thing that matters, the players are treated like gods, and no matter the outcome of the game, come Friday night after the hockey game O'Connor's bar is full of patrons. Claire's family needs the money badly - for medical bills and other expenses - so she's not complaining. All she needs to do is survive in the town that never understood her for one semester then she can go back to school.

Meanwhile, Tate Tanley's life is changing. He hasn't forgotten the night that Claire took him to the hospital, nor the crush on her he's kept hidden for years - and now she's back in town. Right at the time that his focus needs to be on the game. The starting Varsity goalie quit the team and chose his responsibilities over hockey and the team, the town, and his overbearing father is all depending on him to make sure they make it to State. After all, the offense may win the game, but the goalie loses it for the team. He shouldn't be spending so much time thinking about Claire, but he can't help himself.

When Claire sees Tate again he's no longer the small, scrawny kid with braces she left behind and the feelings seeing him again sparks in her are anything but what she should be feeling for her friend's younger brother. But like moths to a flame, they become unable to stay away from each other.

But with responsibilities and other people's hopes and dreams bearing down on them, do Claire and Tate really stand a chance of being together? Or will their circumstances tear them apart?

Off the Ice is easily one of my favorite reads so far this year. For Contemporary YA Fiction it's a light enjoyable read filled with enough plot to satisfy a reader. I found both Claire and Tate's individual stories, as well as the development of their relationship, to be realistic and believable. I loved watching them fall in love and wondering what was going to happen next or whether someone or something was going to tear them apart.

As someone who's had family members with cancer, Claire's story especially spoke to me and I could relate to the struggles she and her family had. At the same time, my heart broke for Tate with the situation with his father.

For the first book in a series, I enjoyed the groundwork the author set up while also telling Claire and Tate's story. I loved all of Tate's teammate and I'm sure they'll pop up in the books to come; I'm interested to see what their stories will be and learn more about them.

The only thing that didn't make sense to me was why all the financial stress was placed on Claire's shoulders. If her father was a single parent it would have made sense, but Claire has a mother, an aunt, and at least one uncle so why was it her job to handle phone calls regarding the payment of medical and household bills?

Overall, I loved reading Off the Ice. The story grabbed me right away and I became wrapped up, unable to stop reading. I felt satisfied with the ending and I can't wait to see what's going to happen in the next book!
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,356 reviews99 followers
January 27, 2018
3.5 Stars. This was cute and I thought it handled a lot of the heavier topics pretty well. I really liked the characters - not just Tate and Claire, but their friends and most of their families, too. I especially loved Tate's stepfather, Roger. While I did think the heavier topics were handled well, I thought things were a little too rushed at the end and would've liked to have seen a little more resolution - especially with Tate's anger issues. I also thought there were a couple scenes that were a little too graphic for YA. Overall, though, I enjoyed this.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,077 reviews13.3k followers
March 7, 2017
I don't know what it is about athletes, but I am a sucker for a good sports romance. I was obsessed with Julie's Whatever Life Throws at You and couldn't wait to read her YA hockey romance!

Claire O'Conner has always had big dreams of singing and performing and finally getting out of Juniper Falls. But a family tragedy has her back from her semester away at school and back working in her parents' hockey bar. Before she left, Tate Tanley was an awkward boy who happened to be one of her friends. A year later and Tate is definitely not a boy anymore and he's found himself as the school's starting varsity hockey goalie. Tate can't believe that Claire is back and can't forget the feelings he felt for her before she left. But with the pressures they're both feeling from their parents and responsibilities, can a relationship really work between them?

I've got to say, when I first started this book, it was a bit difficult to get into. Once the story picked up, though, I couldn't put this book down. I absolutely loved how important hockey was to the small town of Juniper Falls and how everyone knew everyone else's business. Tate felt so much pressure from the town and his father, who happened to be a hockey legacy, that he was finding it hard to live up to all of the expectations. Claire also had so much going on with her life and I loved how they could just be themselves with each other and be teenagers for once.

While Claire and Tate could relax around each other and find solace from their stressful lives, I also loved how they were brutally honest with each other and pushed each other to be their best selves. Even when they disagreed on something, the other wouldn't back down and made them look at things realistically while still being supportive. And have I mentioned the hockey yet? Because I loved how much ice time we got with Tate. While I wished Claire had watched him more, I was so happy we got to see Tate's time on the ice and the pressures he was facing to perform well. As a sports romance, this one had plenty of sports and plenty of romance, which definitely pleased me.

Overall, this was a cute story from Julie Cross. There were some serious moments, but also some playful moments between our main characters. Both of them were dealing with pretty serious problems regarding their families, which gave this book more depth than your average YA book. If you love sports romances and Julie Cross, you should definitely check out Off the Ice!
Profile Image for Deniz.
1,145 reviews100 followers
December 11, 2017
Off the Ice has been on my TBR since I heard the about it. I planned on reading it as soon as it was released last February.
In fact, if you would have asked me last week, I would have told you, I am pretty sure I read it. Yet somehow I didn't. Don't ask me why. But let me tell you, if you interested, go read it. It's well worth your time.

There isn't much that I didn't like about Off the Ice, except that the first quarter was bit slow? It's a bit long wound at times.
In the end, however, it doesn't really matter.

This is well written, with insight and subtlety. The writing style is beautiful. There are loads of descriptions that touched me. I love the hockey scenes.
The storyline is sweet, to say the least. But it is full of depth, there are some real issues tackled during the novel, while the love story is swoony, it feels tangible and very realistic. I think I like that best.
Actually, I love the character building even more.

It's done immaculately. I mean there are characters that are mostly negative. But all in all each and every character has depth, different sides and I feel like I gotten to know the entire group of friends. And while we talking about the group? I hope there will be a book about all of the guys?
The two MCs are strong, stubborn and work through some heavy stuff. They are both likable and loyal. Both unique, but can I just say Tate.. swoooon. The sketch? Just one of the things I adore about him.

A wonderful start to the series. Must read for lovers of the genre.
Profile Image for Abbie.
1,976 reviews583 followers
February 7, 2017
(I received a copy from Netgalley, In exchange for an honest review.)

Actual rating - 2.75

The characters in this were alright, But I didn't love them.

This wasn't an awful read, but it wasn't one that I can say I really enjoyed unfortunately. I felt quite bored from the start, and it got worse as it went on. The book dragged in areas because of it for me.

Overall, Not bad, but not one for me.
Profile Image for Roni Loren.
Author 46 books3,337 followers
February 15, 2017
Beta read this one for Julie. Everyone is in for a treat! Loved. :)
Profile Image for Kelly Gunderman.
Author 3 books76 followers
December 14, 2017
Check out this, other reviews, and more fun bookish things on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!

I'm going to start off my review by saying that I'm not really one for sports romances or books that are centered around sports. I've never really cared for sports in general, so reading about them usually tends to leave me feeling bored. I put off reading Off the Ice for a long time because I wasn't sure that I was going to like it, but when I saw that the author had another book coming out featuring some of the characters in this book, I decided to take the plunge and read it, even though I didn't expect this book to really wow me or anything.

So imagine my surprise when I'm a quarter of the way through this book and I actually find myself really enjoying it - the story, the characters, the drama, the secrets - the whole book is just so much fun.

"'Promise me something, Tate.'"
"Don't change, okay?'"
"'Yeah, I know. You wrote that in my yearbook.'"
"'But I mean it now. Promise me you won't become another varsity hockey player.'"

Claire left her home of Juniper Falls and went to college, but when tragedy strikes her father, she needs to come back home and help out with her family and her family's bar. Since it's hockey season, the bar is always busy, but not busy enough to make ends meet all the time, and Claire is keeping secret about her family's funds, trying to figure out how she can make it all work, spend time and care for her family, and go back to school after the new year. Not to mention things are a bit awkward for her now, since Tate looks and acts a lot different than he did last year, when he had a run in with his father that Claire had helped him through.

Meanwhile, Tate has just broken up with his girlfriend, Haley, and is focusing on his hockey game. He has just been told he is replacing a former player, who quit the team and is looking after his pregnant girlfriend - and in the process, has become a town outcast. Tate steps up, playing his best, while always being judged by his opinionated father who was a former hockey player in town, as well. And then he notices Claire - and the two of them begin to rekindle a friendship.

When Tate's father starts doing some shady things that will cause some of Tate's teammates (and maybe even Tate himself) to lose their scholarship eligibility and force them to play with a team Tate's father has chosen, Tate is torn between telling anyone about it, and letting it ride out.

"Tate is real, and his life is messed up, and my life is more real and messed up than ever. But his heart is beating beneath my hand, and I didn't ask for it, but he's given it to me. And there are some gifts you just don't turn down. There are some threads that you hold on to as tightly as possible."

As Tate and Claire start spending more and more time together, their friendship turns into something more, and the two of them develop a romance that is complicated and exactly what they both need at the time.

The relationship between Tate and Claire isn't just realistic feeling, it's complicated and messy and the kind of relationship you find yourself really getting behind. I loved how that was the main theme of the book, but there was also so much other stuff going on at the same time, like the whole thing with Tate's dad being pretty much a jerk, and Claire's family struggling so much.

There was just so much love and family in this book that it really stood out from a lot of other books I've read lately. I loved how close Claire's family was, especially with her father, and how they took care of him and each other. Tate's father wasn't really that great of a guy, but his mother and his step-father, as well as his sister, Jody, were all there for him and cared a lot about him. There was also a great deal of friendship going on in this book, which I liked, too.

I honestly don't know much about hockey, since I'm not exactly a sports fan, but I did find myself enjoying this book nonetheless. This was a really great book to read during the winter, because it makes it feel even more realistic (it was snowing when I read the ending, which was pretty neat).

I find myself eager to read the next installment in the Juniper Falls series, as it will feature Haley, and I found myself really liking her in this book and can't wait to see what's in store for her next.

Note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!
Profile Image for Edit~A.
389 reviews24 followers
March 25, 2018
(Source: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to NetGalley, Entangled Publishing, LLC, Entangled Teen and Julie Cross.)

I am going to keep my review short, because I do not have much to say, but to express my disappointment.

This book was an extreme drag, I could not feel bad for any of the characters, that actually got real problems, because they did that well enough on their own.

“I promise. For you, I won’t turn into Pratt.”
“Why for me?”
“Because you deserve that.”

The story is about a hockey player, who has an abusive father, and a girl who is his sister's best friend. Tate always liked Claire, but she did not like him back, instead she had a crush on a popular jock, Luke Pratt. Now, the story was sweet and there were romantic moments, that swooned you, but most of time I either wanted to throw the book away, reap my hair or shake the characters. I did none of corse but I was close to.

The most disappointing part was that I did not like any of the characters. They got real problems, and I don't want to downplay it, but they were always whining and crying instead of taking an action, so it was annoying. Second, they blamed other people for something and again they dramatized it a lot. The whole book was a drama actually.

“Claire,” I hear Tate say. He looks all serious again. “Promise me something?”
“Promise you won’t settle for any guy who doesn’t think you’re perfect.” He drops his gaze to his hands. “Because you are. Perfect.”

The only characters that I liked were the hockey players and Haley, especially her. Tate blamed he for them falling apart, but the thing his, he never even let her get in, to fall apart. He blamed her for not knowing him, but he did not let her to see him and know him, he always kept her at an arm distance. Haley was such an amazing character, even after that she never did anything back to Claire, instead she helped her, and she let Tate go almost right away even when she loved her. He was mature and strong, again, with problems, unlike the two main characters. I am happy to see that the second book is about her, unfortunately the guy is not Jake, I was shipping them.

Overall, an ok YA Romance book, fo people who have patience.

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