On the Surface by Kate Willoughby

On the Surface (In the Zone, #1)There are good sports romances and there are cringeworthy sport romances.  Despite the number of 5* reviews saying otherwise, I strongly maintain that this is one of the latter.

It is like the author has come up with a list of “scenes” you typically find in a romance and has set out to tackle them all in quick succession without any real natural flow:

– Knight in shining armour to the rescue
– Possible alternate love interest – cue jealousy (Doctor Olifant who disappears within a blink of an eye after some build up)
– Meeting Heroine’s family (Erin invites Tim over to her sister’s house minutes after saying they need to take things slow ….)
– Hockey superstitions (I get that they exist but the whole focus on kissing the stick really grated on me and when Erin told Tim that his great playing was not due to the superstition but due to himself, I felt like shouting “DUH!”.
– Male bonding (Power Play – can someone please tell me what the purpose of this segue?  I can only presume a set up for a future love interest?)
– Tragic past (failed marriage and daughter dying)
– Moving in together weeks after meeting
– Meeting Hero’s family (and of course they are the perfect American family)
– Flash engagement
– THE obstacle (he never wants to have children, she does …. except, oh wait, he changes his mind)
– Life/death (he got hurt; he plays hockey)

Added to all of the above, there is some awful dialogue.

“Oh my God, Tim.” She laughed. “Babies don’t have asses.

He frowned. “Then where does all their baby shit come from?”

“Their butts or their bottoms.”

“Same thing,” he said.

“It’s not the same thing at all,” she said as he kissed her between her breasts. “You don’t get an ass until puberty.”

This is in the middle of them having sex!  I mean you would be hard pushed think of words worse than ‘baby shit’ to ruin an amorous moment!

But oh no, it gets worse with this delightful conversation between our hero and one of his teammates:

Chastain laughed. “Hey, calm down. I’m just fucking with you.” He chugged some orange juice and wiped his mouth with his napkin. “So, let me see. The marriage thing. Well, it’s got its pros and cons, like anything. When PMS hits, or as we call it in our house, ‘The Rage,’ you can’t go to your own place like you could when you were single. And the kids really put a cramp in your sex life.” He leaned closer to Tim. “I mean, fuck. You a breast man?”

Tim blinked. “Yeah. Fucking love them.”

“Exactly. So, here’s the deal. I get that breast milk is like nature’s superfood for babies and it creates this unbreakable bond between the mother and the kid, but I really fucking miss having her tits to myself. I think she’s planning on weaning Antoine by Christmas, which would be like the best present ever. Merry Christmas, Jean Claude. Here’s that pair of knockers you asked Santa for.”

Tim laughed. He’d had no idea Chastain had a sense of humor, or that he would share intimate details of his life with him either. This was a kinder, gentler Chastain than the one who used to slam him into the boards when they were on different teams.

“On the other hand,” Chastain continued, “you never have to use condoms. I don’t know about you, but that right there is heaven on fucking Earth.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure guys say things in locker rooms which they would never say in mixed company but seriously, SERIOUSLY?!  On behalf of my gender I despair and don’t want to read this in a romance where I appreciate realism but still want to be left with a smidgen of respect for the hero.

But never fear, Erin is not a complete angel.

Erin fidgeted with her straw. “I don’t know. That’s hard. God, I almost wish I were infertile. That way the decision would be out of my hands.”

“That wouldn’t help. There’s adoption. Or surrogacy. That’s expensive, but he’s rich enough, right?”

I am not a maternal person by nature but even I know that wishing you were infertile just to avoid a difficult decision is a no-no when there are women out there wishing they could have their own children.

So those are just some of the dialogue highlights, I could continue but I think you get the gist.

Needless to say I won’t be coming back for the rest of the series.

Book: 2*

Cover: 4*

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