Special thanks to the author for providing a digital ARC via Grey’s Promotions in exchange for an honest review!
Off the Ice (Central State #4)
Pub Date: 11 October 2022
Genre: Contemporary (Sports) Romance
Falling for the hopeless romantic was never part of the plan…
Elle Van Helsing wants to start her life away from home. Constantly living under the shadow of her brother, she plans to find romance and survive on her own: even if it’s financially harder than she thought. Getting a job at a dive bar three doors down from her new place is the perfect solution. Well, it was until the owner has a family emergency and asks his nephew to help out in his absence. The guy she used to have a crush on until he ruined it.
Cal Holt might be a legend on the ice, but off it? He’s alone and likes to keep it that way. It’s easier to protect himself when he’s always a jerk, but the one person who gets under his skin is Elle. Torn between wanting to get to know her and pushing her away, he’s surprised when he learns she hates him. She looked at him differently the year before, and now that they’re stuck managing a bar for a few weeks, tensions rise.
She’s a hopeless romantic who wants grand gestures and sees the world through rose-colored glasses. He’s a grumpy cynic with a permanent scowl. She dreams of love, and he wants a one-night stand. She plans to build a life on campus, and he plans to leave and head to the NHL. Complete opposites in every way, they shift from enemies to friends…but Cal refuses to fall in love, and Elle deserves more. For the girl who never felt enough, and the guy terrified to feel, fear might ruin their chance at finding love.
⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS
death of parents (off-page)
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TL;DR: I didn’t expect to love Off the Ice more than the previous book in the series but here we are! This was so much fun to read and it’s a great addition to the Central State series, which has quickly worked its way up to being one of my favourite sports romance series. If you love a slow burn, frenemies-to-lovers romance with a super sunshine hopeless romantic FMC and a grumpily soft plant daddy MMC, then I would definitely pick this one up asap! 😉 I’m declaring it now: I’m a simp for Cal, the heartbroken, super sad and soft plant daddy.
Hello, this book might just be my favourite of the series! It’s hard to say because I loved all of them so much but this romance had me swooning and screaming. Cal made me wanna give him a giant-ass bear hug and then never let him go cos he smooshed my heart with all the feels and I’m not even mad about it!
Elle was such a great FMC! She’s a literal ray of sunshine and never failed to put a smile on everyone’s face (including mine!). In the beginning, she doesn’t really speak her mind but I loved seeing her grow and learn to stand up for herself as she worked at the pub and found her people, as unlikely a bunch as they were. She’s a badass and strong and sweet and I loved her positivity—she’s also quite a hopeless romantic like me and well, I relate! That said, it was Cal who really brought it home for me. He’s admittedly a bit of an ass at the start but the more we learn about him, the more we see that he’s completely lost in his grief and is so utterly heartbroken by the loss of his parents. He projects this unfeeling and uncaring solitary persona when he actually feels emotions in abundance to the point of being overwhelmed by them and he feels the only way for him to survive his feelings is to suppress everything. His story broke my heart because you could feel how much he loved his parents and how their loss messed him up. He’s a gruff bear of little words on the outside but a total mushy sweetheart on the inside. He has the softest heart and I ADORED the way he doted on Elle and showed his feelings for her through ✨all the acts of love!✨ He’s probably one of the most genuinely thoughtful MMCs that I’ve had the pleasure to read and really, please, where can I find one? 🥺
Their romance was a bit of a slow burn but so 100% worth it when they finally got together. I loved seeing them get to know each other and the friendship and trust that grew between them made my heart so happy! Cal and Elle were the perfect grumpy/sunshine frenemies to lovers couple and their romance, though defo full of many downs and ups, was swoontastic, heartwarming and incredibly sweet. The sexual tension builds up so well as they try to resist each other but that moment when they finally give in to their feelings… Mmm, let’s just say it was fire! 🥵
I wished some elements had been better explored, particularly Cal’s relationship with his uncle and cousin. Cal gets so caught up knowing Lizzie exists and after the buildup to finally meeting her, ngl, it felt a little anticlimactic once it happened! I also wished that we got more of Elle + Daniella’s friendship because I love their ride-or-die relationship but they spent a lot of time apart in this book. Lastly, the lack of active communication in the third-act conflict was frustrating! Their reactions made sense for both their characters and they do get their act together but I wish less time was spent apart and more time was spent talking it out and being all loved up, the way they deserve to be!
Jaqueline Snowe lives in Arizona where the “dry heat” really isn’t that bad. She prefers drinking coffee all hours of the day and snacking on anything that has peanut butter or chocolate. She is the mother to two fur babies who don’t realize they aren’t humans and a new mom to the sweetest baby boy. She is an avid reader and writer of romances and tends to write about athletes. Her husband works for an MLB team (not a player, lol) so she knows more about baseball than any human ever should.
Have you read Off the Ice or is it on your TBR?