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Neurologist Helen Chang Frobisher is on a mission to ban hockey from Portland to prevent the kind of concussive brain injury that plagues her father. Oregon Wolves player Adam Magnus is desperately trying to secure his career and his retirement despite the team’s dismal record.

But while the two spar in public over the future of a sports franchise on the brink, in private, they battle an impossible attraction. When their no-strings-attached fling turns into the real thing, Helen and Adam must decide what’s really important to them. Will their relationship end up in the penalty box, or are they a winning combination?

236 pages, ebook

First published January 11, 2016

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About the author

Ruby Lang

21 books180 followers
Ruby Lang is pint-sized, prim, and bespectacled. Her alter ego, essayist Mindy Hung, has written for The New York Times, The Toast, and Salon, among others. She enjoys running (slowly), reading (quickly), and ice cream (at any speed). She lives in New York with a small child and a medium-sized husband.

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5 stars
56 (21%)
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92 (35%)
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81 (31%)
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24 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 60 reviews
Profile Image for aarya.
1,144 reviews
August 20, 2020
2020 Ripped Bodice Summer Bingo: ‪Healthcare Professional‬

It was super interesting to read about a not-so-successful athlete in an unpopular/losing team, particularly focusing on retirement options. The heroine’s dad storyline was devastating. Lang knows how to write romantic melancholy well.
Profile Image for Mandi.
2,299 reviews718 followers
January 12, 2016
I read Acute Reactions by Ruby Lang last year and really enjoyed it. She was a new to me author and I found her voice very fresh and smart. I was excited to see another book in this series of three girlfriends who meet in medical school and now share office space. In this book we have Helen, a neurologist and Adam, a NHL (professional hockey) player.

Adam plays for a new professional hockey team in Portland. Only on their second year, his team is not good. With a very bad record and a billionaire owner who is demanding a new stadium, the people of Portland have not embraced their new hockey team. Adam has played hockey for quite a few years, and is an okay player but not the greatest. He has retirement looming and is not sure what the future holds for him. His life at the moment feels unsure and in a rut. Then he gets into a minor car accident with a teammate.

His teammate hits his head pretty badly, so they end up in the presence of Helen, who checks them out. Adam is immediately intrigued with Helen and her professional demeanor. Adam is a huge, growly guy and Helen is very petite – with a big personality. She isn’t one you want to mess around with. Helen loves being a neurologist, but family health problems have been making her depressed. Her beloved father is battling a form of Parkinson’s from being hit too much as a boxer in his younger days. He is at the point where her mother can’t care for him anymore. Helen is in great denial over this, trying to pretend it isn’t happening – but reality is starting to sink in. She is very frustrated as she is a neurologist, yet there is nothing to do for this terminal condition. She doesn’t know a lot about hockey, but after meeting Adam, she starts to watch it on television. She realizes just how horrible hockey is to the brain – the fights, the hitting the head on the ice etc… She starts to get furious that these players are putting their future life at risk, like her father.

She was thirty-two years old; it was a Friday night; and she was in a hoodie, eating popcorn and cereal, reading about brain trauma, and hate-watching hockey.

She was getting weird.

When Adam and Helen happen to meet on the street one night, they end up going out to dinner and sleeping together. Helen is enamored by Adam – he actually listens to her when she talks and they have a lot to talk about. But she doesn’t want anything serious, so she is happy with just one night.

Helen is so upset by how physically rough hockey is, she writes a scathing opinion piece that is published in the paper, stating that hockey should be banned. Of course, this infuriates Adam, whose career is the sport Helen is calling a ban for. They start to meet on radio and other local television shows to debate this topic, eventually leading to a romance.

First, we have a hockey player who isn’t necessarily a star in the NHL world. I love this! He needs to think about his future, as he doesn’t have a gazillion dollars stored away. He is big and growly, two of my favorite things. He sees Helen and they have great chemistry together. Their banter is smart and fun.

He grinned, then looked over at her. “Aren’t you having any?”

“I ate a lot of popcorn at home,” she said. “And cereal. Maybe there were some Pop-Tarts.”

“I didn’t see you as a Pop-Tart kind of girl.”

“What does that mean? You don’t find me sweet and delicious?”

“I figured you for something more complicated and harder to pronounce.”

“Something hard to get my mouth around?”

She heard his light intake of breath even as he narrowed his eyes at her heavy-handed innuendo. When he spoke again, his voice was even.

“I thought of you,” he said, pausing very deliberately, “as a more complicated flavor.”

He bit into the bruschetta almost delicately, showing her his white teeth. Then he dabbed carefully at the corners of his mouth with a napkin.

His eyes gleamed.

Helen laughed, but her stomach felt tight and fluttery. She took a sip of wine. “This from a man who accessorizes with scarves.”

“It’s warm, not just jazzy.

“You’re never going to let me live that word down.”

He ignored her. “To sum up, I’m a sophisticated gentleman with urbane and practical tastes and you’re a Pop-Tart.”

Helen sat back and marveled. “You know, the problem with you is that you’re smarter than I’d like you to be.”

“I think that might be your problem, not mine.”

They have passionate debates about hockey and sometimes the direction of their relationship. These two have a lot of chemistry but with Adam’s career ending and Helen’s dad dying, it’s hard for them to see their future together. If I have one complaint, it’s that these two spend quite some time in the book apart. But – I appreciate it in a way as well, because the author doesn’t rush this romance. They bicker – Adam gets very upset that Helen hates hockey. But throughout it all, their chemistry and the sexual tension is on point.

While, sad, I loved Helen’s struggle with her father’s health. Her frustration, her denial. She would fight with her mom, she gets scared and won’t go see him. It all felt very real. Speaking of being real, Helen’s relationship with her girlfriends is one that I think is written so well. I think I mention this in my review of book one too. These girlfriends are supportive and there for one another – but they also challenge each other. They call out bullshit. They argue. Their banter can be cutting – but it’s all done out of love. I think the girlfriend relationship in this book is portrayed very well and different from many other books I’ve read.

Let’s end on a growly note – because yum.

“You don’t have to shadow me like that,” she said irritably. “I’m not making a quick getaway.”

“Right, because you only bolt after sex.”

“I was trying to spare you—”

“That is such utter and complete bullshit,” he growled so low and intense that the table rattled under her fingers and the sound seemed to be sucked from the room.

His last words delivered in that whisper roared so close to her ear that she could feel the warm force of his breath drive at her. Helen’s face and neck and chest prickled with fear and … something else, and she saw her fingertips grip a fork so tightly that her knuckles went white. But what she really wanted to do was turn around and kiss him, to touch him right there on his firm, broad chest. She could see it was still tense and bunched, moving up and down. She wanted to soothe him.

Adam angry was really, really something.

Really excited to have found Ruby Lang – her books are so fun and sexy. I can’t wait for another one.

Grade: B
Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,225 reviews261 followers
August 31, 2019
A sports romance between a mediocre, aging out hockey player and the neurologist who treated his best friend for a concussion.

Adam and Helen had great and convincing chemistry. They attempted the "oh we're so wrong for each other but let's hit it and quit it" then found themselves hurt and orbiting around one another in a subtle, convincing manner.

He ignored her. “To sum up, I’m a sophisticated gentleman with urbane and practical tastes and you’re a Pop-Tart.”Helen sat back and marveled. “You know, the problem with you is that you’re smarter than I’d like you to be.”

I relished the little details from the book, like Adam's traveling suits being easy, him noticing her hands of anger. His perception was glorious, and her tripping into vulnerability was equally rewarding.

He had begun to be able to interpret the moods of her pauses and avoided answers. Skimming his fingers over the bumps of their conversation, he read the sadness underneath.

Satisfying, but I could've read more!
Profile Image for Xan.
619 reviews274 followers
June 3, 2017
On a romance and story level, this book works really well. Characterization is deep, it made me care about each of the MCs and want them to find a way to be together. Each character had a solid arc, and it was a pleasure to watch them grow. There were lovely moments of humor. I loved the bits on the phone in particular, how revealing and swoony and connected they felt. It really got across what kind of intimacy its possible to build over the phone.

I especially appreciated how much it was about anger, about both of these characters managing their rage, and just loved how angry Helen was. Most women characters so rarely get to be angry unless they are racist misogynist stereotypes and Helen was not; she was complex and vulnerable and scared and intensely competent...and she lost her temper a lot. Was angry a lot. And that was part of what he found attractive about her, but not in a "you're sexy when you're angry, baby" misogynist kind of way.

I also really struggled in reading this book, which is deeply and centrally about I didn't particularly want that kind of ableism humanized more or made more empathetic. I didn't want to feel for a character who is so driven by that kind of ableism. It says something about Lang's talent that she made me get that I may very well need to tread lightly around well written deeply characterized doctor MCs because it might hurt to care about them. I have read a ton of romances with doctor MCs that didn't bring out empathy of this sort. It rather awful to feel empathy for someone who is both afraid of you and certain that your very existence is a terrible fate. Not a comfortable cozy thing. Especially since the ableism is not textually challenged, pretty much at all, though it is also not presented as correct, either, if that makes sense. It's more...here is the depths of her psychological motivation (ableism), presented nuetrally. (In case it wasn't clear, I do not recommend the mind fuck of reading this book to other disabled people.)

This is not a comfortable book to read, probably not just for me. It's complex, and well written, & engages with things that are rarely depicted at all, much less w/this much complexity and nuance. It's also built on a bedrock of unquestioned ableism, and it hurt me to read it.

I want Lang to write more books, more angry heroines, more complex characterizations and plots that unfold one link at a time to form narrative patterns that are deeply satisfying. I am hopeful about her next book, which promises an angry heroine. (Hopefully with less ableism.)

This book is linked to Acute Reactions, a book by Lang that I enjoyed quite a bit. (That book and the promise of an angry heroine are what made me want to read this book.) I didn't know that the stories were linked, going in, and it was a lovely surprise. It was nice to see Petra & Ian again.

Trigger Warnings:
Profile Image for Robyn.
827 reviews132 followers
January 29, 2019
Very much liked the characters in this and their public sparring.
Profile Image for Chessa.
716 reviews59 followers
September 10, 2017
The female protagonist in this sweet contemporary romance is as bad at feelings as I am, and I love her for it! This was a cute, funny, and surprisingly emotional book. I'll be back for more from this author. (I can't believe I read a hockey romance?!)
Profile Image for Ana.
2,346 reviews315 followers
January 1, 2018
I like how female anger and violence in sports were handled. The couple was well matched and their attraction gives way to a slow burn romance. No silly miscommunication here, just characters complicated enough to need to work things out before HEA is reached.
Profile Image for Beth.
1,132 reviews109 followers
April 18, 2018
I did not like this. I didn't believe these people were good for each other or had any shot at a long-term relationship, and since the book tried to convince me of both those points, I felt it was a failure.
195 reviews109 followers
February 13, 2017
Ruby Lang is a new-to-me author I discovered through the wonderful Romance Novels for Feminists (which has never yet steered me wrong), and I received Hard Knocks for review consideration from the publisher. Hard Knocks is about a hockey player nearing the end of his career (Adam) and a neurologist (Helen) who thinks he’s cute when he brings his friend in for a concussion check-up but does not think much of all the brain damage sports can wreak upon their players.

Oh how I love discovering a new romance author whose books are just right for me. Hard Knocks is witty and charming, with banter between the leads that is also witty and charming (in the way that so many romance novels try and fail to have their banter be, i.e., effortlessly), and I’m delighted that there’s another book in the series for me to read. Things I particularly loved include how angry Helen is (I love angry heroines); the fact that nobody gives a crap that she sleeps with Adam casually; frank discussion of finances (so rare); and how angry Helen is.

Did I say one of those twice? I really love angry heroines. I can already tell that Ruby Lang’s going to be one of my go-to romance authors–very much recommended!
Profile Image for Amanda.
675 reviews7 followers
June 26, 2017
(Disclaimer: the author is a friend.) This book was such a great read - I loved all the characters and wanted more when it ended! I love when both characters need to grow and change to get to the happily-ever-after, and it's not about one person being entirely right or totally wrong. This had that and it was so satisfying to watch these two great characters work their way toward each other. Love love love.
Profile Image for Sue.
911 reviews2 followers
November 1, 2019
I understand Helen, because having a parent with a terminal illness affecting their brain really affects your mental health and produces a lot of anger. But I did not like her very much and it seemed like she was a pain in Adam's ass more than anything. I liked the writing, I'll try more by Ruby Lang, though it's a little more angst than I usually need in my life.
Profile Image for Jane.
302 reviews
October 30, 2022
SO good. Adam is so kind and worn-down and basically just a human blankie for someone who needed softness and warmth in her life.
Profile Image for Romance Novels in Color.
348 reviews227 followers
August 5, 2016

After reading Ruby Lang’s second installment in her Private Practice series, Hard Knocks, I’m looking forward to downloading her first offering in this series, Acute Reactions, and any of her future books. On its own, Hard Knocks is a smartly-written romance about two characters who find each other and discover themselves at odds at pivotal moments in their respective lives.

Adam Magnus (love the name) is a long-in-the-tooth hockey enforcer with the hard-luck Oregon Wolves, who can’t seem to buy a win on the ice.  He’s been beaten up by the sport and fears his career will soon be over. With no other appreciable skills, he’s not sure what he should be doing next. Dr. Helen Chang Frobisher (quite a mouthful) is a neurologist and crusader against the ravages of CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, on the brain. You see, her father, a former doctor, is dying from Parkinson’s which she suspects was brought on by his days as an amateur boxer years ago. She feels helpless to save him and turns her frustration to the dangers of hockey on the brain.

Helen and Adam’s auspicious meeting takes place in the hospital emergency room when she is called in to consult on the treatment of him and his teammate after a postgame car accident. Their mutual attraction is instantaneous with her drawn to his striking good looks and masculine appeal and him unable to resist the exotic, intelligent and matter-of-fact beauty. Not soon after their first meeting, they were hot and heavy and immersed in what Helen hoped would be a one-night stand. But inevitably their paths cross again as adversaries in the debate about CTE and hockey. As Adam faces an uncertain career future and Helen grapples with family crisis but despite their differences over the wages of high-impact sports on the brain, they build a strong, believable friendship and passionate relationship.

This book certainly fits the sensual romance genre, i.e. all of the love scenes sizzled. But I had to keep reminding myself that it was an interracial romance, which is not necessarily a bad thing. With its witty dialogue, solid character development, and credible internal/external conflicts Hard Knocks is a keeper.
 ~Reviewed by Angela
A note from Laurel...
I had the pleasure of reading Hard Knocks as well and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love romances that don't shy away from uncomfortable subjects. Helen's crusade against CTE was interesting, but so were her coping mechanisms regarding her ailing father. And Adam's character, although a hockey player, is not a "star" player. He struggles with his future, and thinks about a lot of the mundane things that keep regular people up at night. Both characters were not your typical perfect protagonists and I loved that about this book. Adam and Helen's relationship is a slow build with punctuation of heat that had me page turning late into the night. What I loved most was how unflinchingly real they seemed. Bravo to Ms. Lang for proving that normal can be sexy.This review was originally posted on Romance Novels in Color
Profile Image for Elisabeth Lane.
407 reviews131 followers
January 15, 2016
I love finding funny, smart, new-to-me romance writers and Ruby Lang definitely fits the bill. The second book in the Practice Perfect series, Hard Knocks is about a neurologist coping with parental illness and an aging hockey player working though a vocational crisis. It doesn’t appear to matter whether these are read out of order. I just bought the first in the series, so likely a few questions that cropped up while reading this one will be answered there, but it wasn’t anything critical to following the plot of this book.

Helen Chang Frobisher is a neurologist whose father is suffering from Parkinson’s, possibly brought on by his escapades as a boxer in his younger days before he became a small-town doctor. She’s a former ballet dancer who changed career direction at 18 and loves her work, but is feeling frustrated and helpless at not being able to do more for her ailing dad. Meeting hockey player Adam Magnus turns into the perfect outlet for her to vent that frustration. Adam is a defender on the unpopular and largely irrelevant Oregon Wolves. His position is that of easily replaceable muscle and he’s had enough injuries and bad seasons that he fears his career is coming to an end. Considering that he’s kind of over hockey anyway, he’s not terribly upset by this, but he still needs to work and doesn’t know what he should be doing next.

When Helen and Adam meet after Adam and a teammate get into a minor car accident, they’re instantly attracted to each other. Adam’s height and good looks impress Helen more than she wishes they did and Helen’s grace, intelligence and surliness intrigue Adam. They eventually come into conflict over Adam’s job, leading to a public feud over the dangers of hockey, an intersection of Helen’s work, Adam’s work and Helen’s fears about her father.

It’s a tightly woven story, fusing family, work, romance and personal transitions into one occasionally uncomfortable, but ultimately satisfying whole. It never seems over-balanced toward work and family problems and never prioritizes one character’s struggles over another. Helen in particular has a rough road to walk and I wouldn’t have been surprised if this book had followed that journey closely to the detriment of both the romance and the hero’s internal conflict, but it never did. Oh, and it’s gratifyingly sexy. The phone sex scenes particularly stood out for me, but there’s no shortage of hotness.

Ruby Lang just landed on my auto-buy list. The ballet-dancer-turned-neurologist and the hockey player turned out to be way more than just opposites attract. Plus the friendships between the three women the series revolves around seemed very realistic. I can’t wait to see what Lang will do with the other two doctor heroines in the practice.

For a homemade pop tart recipe inspired by Hard Knocks, visit Cooking Up Romance: http://www.cookupromance.com/2016/01/...

Hard Knocks artisanal pop tarts
Profile Image for Emmalita.
492 reviews33 followers
August 18, 2019
After enjoying Acute Reactions so much, I quickly moved on to Hard Knocks. I enjoyed Hard Knocks so much I am now 1/3 of the way through Clean Breaks. I forced myself to stop reading and write this review.

There is a lot I like about Ruby Lang. She turns a mean phrase. Her romances are both realistic and romantic. She doesn’t invent bizarre stratagems to keep her MCs apart, she uses completely relatable fears and insecurities to keep them apart and then brings them back together without (so far) grand gestures. Problems are not solved at the end of the book, but they are made manageable.

In this entry to the Practice Perfect series, Helen is a neurologist and Adam is a hockey player. For reasons, they end up on opposite sides of a debate about a hockey arena and the long term affects of head injuries. This is a slow burn romance. They spend much of the book apart, but they have great chemistry and banter.

He ignored her. “To sum up, I’m a sophisticated gentleman with urbane and practical tastes and you’re a Pop-Tart.”

Helen sat back and marveled. “You know, the problem with you is that you’re smarter than I’d like you to be.”

“I think that might be your problem, not mine.”

This isn’t truly an enemies to lovers story. They aren’t ever truly enemies. The roadblocks are their fears about what they might lose in the future and what they don’t have control over. They get together and separate a couple of times, and I wish Lang had lingered on them a little more as a couple.

As a person who has been accused of being complicated many times, I appreciate that Lang’s characters are complicated. They are amazing and a mess all at once.
Profile Image for Rhode PVD.
2,304 reviews23 followers
November 29, 2016
One of the best hockey romances I've ever read. It's unusually intelligent, thoughtful, funny, romantic, with the best damn hero gmail address imaginable. Really, I'd date him for that alone.

The cover totally gets Adam wrong. He's supposed to be this enormous guy with white blonde hair. I'd love to see him, but sadly nope. And we never see them on ice together, although there is a superlative softball game.

As with the prior book in this series, the characters' professional lives are complex and feel realistic. Helen's medical activities and her feelings about medicine seem spot on, in particular. The hockey is not described in detail all that much, aside from one mesmerizing passage when Adam describes what circling on the ice for a fight feels like. And we do get insights into what it's like to be a small town hometown hero, and to be contemplating the end of your sports career when it's only been moderately successful.

This novel also strikes a lot of right notes when it comes to feminism without being too self conscious about it - for example, the male is professionally involved in PR instead of the female; and, the couple discuss how they would feel if she ultimately earns more than him. And three of four parents are doing fine - which is a victory given the death and needy-parent tolls in other books. Her father is suffering from a terrible illness, but it's absolutely central to the plot and not just there as drama or character building.

Lastly, it's a relief to read about two adults who truly feel like adults. This isn't YA or NA. They are both smart people with good senses of humor around 30 and they think and act like it.
Profile Image for Audra North.
Author 32 books301 followers
December 4, 2015
First off, I loved the humor in this book. Hands down, probably as much as the love story itself, the humor was so perfectly subtle and intelligent and wry...I think good humor is so seldom appreciated that I wanted to call it out as its own thing here. Like, one hockey player talking to the hero (also a hockey player) who is worried about his career options: "You're large. You can work the farm. Or as a bouncer."

The other thing I loved was Helen, because she is a crabby, crabby, crabapple heroine who loves her family and makes a lot of mistakes despite her brilliance and discipline in her accomplishments. She's very flawed, but her flaws come from somewhere overall good and overall positive, which makes her so much more human and not Princess Perfect. It made me really relish her and Adam's HEA.

Finally, the hero: he is ridiculous. Ridiculous sexy. Ridiculous sweet. HE is Prince Perfect. Sort of. Prince Awesome, how about?

It was wonderful. Plus hockey and neurology geeking out.
Profile Image for Jess.
2,789 reviews5 followers
February 11, 2017
3.5 stars

This took me a little bit to get into, but I ended up liking it. Helen is prickly, not without cause, and Adam is cautious for reasons of his own. I really liked the way they negotiated past each other's boundaries, and just the novelty of the story. More of books like this, please.
Profile Image for Liz.
70 reviews8 followers
January 12, 2016
Yet another great romance from Ruby Lang! This book has fully-realized characters and it's funny, sharp, and sexy as hell. I can't wait for the next one.
Profile Image for Krista.
260 reviews8 followers
January 31, 2021
The ending completely threw me; in an ebook it's easy not to notice how many pages are left (or not) so I really felt like it stopped abruptly. I did not believe these characters would have a HEA but they were HFN so I guess it's OK, ish. I was rooting for Helen and Adam even though I didn't always like them or the decisions they made.

Like many other readers, I enjoyed the depiction of a professional athlete who is not a star nor even at the beginning of his career (Adam), but

There's not a lot of "medicine" in this book; we don't spend much time with Helen in actual doctor-mode, which was probably good because she doesn't demonstrate much empathy for patients. Surprisingly, my "I know too much to enjoy this fiction" mainly came from the politics surrounding the proposed new hockey area, which is one of the focuses of the book (Helen is lobbying against hockey, or at least against hockey as it is currently played, for purposes of brain-injury-prevention). New sports areas are pretty much always a bad investment for communities (see citation) and the book's failure to acknowledge this, the way the issue is skirted and made light of (despite the caricature of a Russian billionaire owner "bad guy") did not sit well with me at all.

I'm still going to read the third book in the series, though.

Citation: https://www.theatlantic.com/technolog...
515 reviews
May 9, 2021
I was really looking forward to reading this. Everything about the premise interested me; it seemed like a medical and sports romance all tied into one story. The writing was easy-to-read and I thought the characterizations were vivid.

Then, it is revealed that after finding out that her dad was ill, Helen decided to cheat on her boyfriend at the time (now ex) and break up with him.
“Well, you did go out with Dr. Mike for a long time, too, and he was full of himself,” Petra said.

Helen winced.

Her first year after finishing her residency had proven particularly bumpy. As if the slog of work and getting her license weren’t enough, there had been her father’s diagnosis. At the time, she hadn’t told anyone. Not her friends, not her boyfriend, Dr. Mike Hardcastle. Then Mike had made noises about getting married. They would have another ideal life, with their careers, and later, kids.

But it wouldn’t be perfect, would it? Her father’s illness was ugly and getting uglier. It would drain her family. It would take all of her. Helen just could not. She couldn’t work, be responsible for her father, and be all that Mike wanted her to be.

So. She’d had a one-night stand, broke up with Mike, and confided to Sarah that she’d cheated on him. (15-16)
I can empathize with messy, complicated characters, but I also have to keep in mind my own values and draw the line somewhere. I find it difficult to root for any character that thinks it's okay to cheat. This is not just a mistake, but a problem with values. Couldn't the author have found another reason for them to have broken up? A surprise, cop-out breakup would've been better than cheating. Almost anything would've been better than cheating.

This book was really going so well up until this point, but this revelation shifted my opinion towards the heroine and I can't continue reading.
Profile Image for elstaffe.
747 reviews2 followers
January 2, 2023
Pull quotes/notes
"She was thirty-two years old; it was a Friday night; and she was in a hoodie, eating popcorn and cereal, reading about brain trauma, and hate-watching hockey." (33/260)

"'Minnesota farm boy,' he said. 'We’re polite, stoic, and surprisingly good singers.'
'You were a choirboy?'
'There was a lot of Handel in my youth.'" (39/260)

"'And this behavior has nothing to do with your dad’s brain injury? It’s not a manifestation of all the stress you’re under?'
'It’s not a behavior. It’s genuine concern,” said Helen. 'I’m fine. I’m fine.'
'If you say so.'" (84/260)

"He wore a suit, no tie. His shirt was open at the collar. He had that European litheness that came from cigarette smoking and vitamin-D deficiency." (128/260)

"The gestures were, well, almost romantic. Which suited her idea of Adam Magnus, she supposed. He could produce small acts of delicacy with that large body of his." (164/260)

"I am trying not to feel weird about the fact that I essentially made a mixtape for you filled with sacred music,” Helen said into the phone." (169/260)

"She didn’t have her usual snap. He had begun to be able to interpret the moods of her pauses and avoided answers. Skimming his fingers over the bumps of their conversation, he read the sadness underneath." (176/260)
Profile Image for scarr.
439 reviews
May 25, 2022
I really liked this book - mediocre hockey player on the lowest rated team in the NHL falls for a neuro doc he meets when his friend and teammate is treated by her. What can be a constant challenge reading medical romances is turning off all the training you go through when you work in healthcare is all the HIPPA and ethical violations. This book had a lot of HIPPA-related violations lol like wow. The characters use full names and identifying information when talking about their patients while outside of clinical settings. Anyway, I enjoyed this book! So many sports-related romances feature a sports-playing MC that is usually like the best player every who is also on the top team. It was nice to read about a player who is at the end of his playing career and never really made it to all the riches and fame.

CW: CTI-related injuries and long-lasting effects.
Profile Image for Mysterious.
949 reviews
December 24, 2018
I liked reading a story with an athlete MC that doesn't overly glamorize professional sports, that shows the downside of dating someone with a difficult, stressful, injurious job. I liked that they met each other at a time of transition and uncertainty for both of them. Romance is not always about hearts and flowers and fireworks - sometimes it's about meeting someone at what feels like the worst time, and it's compromise and hard work to build something.

I liked Helen a lot, her bluntness and capability, and her vulnerability too. I wish the story had been longer so we could see Helen with her dad a little more, and a few more steps in their budding relationship.
Profile Image for Peyton.
1,469 reviews16 followers
June 27, 2017
Wonderfully realized main characters, lovely pacing, and charming writing! I hesitate to read romance novels about hockey players because they tend to be the same alpha male playboy stereotype. I'm happy to say that Adam wasn't like that at all and instead was intelligent, funny, and warm. Helen was prickly for sure, and she had reason to be! Her family's backstory broke my heart, so I could definitely understand her reservations. I loved the scenes with Adam and Helen as they navigated what they wanted to be for each other in healthy, adult ways.
Profile Image for K.D. Casey.
Author 8 books151 followers
May 25, 2021
I loved the prose in this and the way that Helen made choices that the narrative (and other characters) clearly didn’t approve of. This tipped more towards women’s fiction than true romance, which isn’t a complaint, because it really centered some difficult trade offs. I do think I would have liked a touch more specificity about a few elements (Adams’s drinking, how hockey contracts and stadium economics work). But I really appreciated a story about difficult people, who felt genuinely like the ages they were written as.
Profile Image for Ina Reads.
743 reviews3 followers
September 9, 2018
3.5 stars, rounded up.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick this up again (I paused half way through and then didn’t read it again for over a year... whoops), but while the beginning of this book is a little hazy to me now, I really enjoyed the second half. I loved how prickly Helen is and how she and Adam don’t fit together on paper, but how they still manage to be there for each other and what the other needs when it matters. Looking forward to reading more by the this author
Profile Image for Sajal.
1,022 reviews1 follower
August 16, 2017
This was good.

I didn't care that much about any of the characters, but I appreciated that Lang managed to tell a story about a half-Chinese doctor, and a not-a-star hockey player. Usually contemporary books such as this one only focus on characters who are super talented at what they do, but it's good to read about someone who's career is struggling once in a while.

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