Friday, July 28, 2017

[Jen's Review]: "In Skates Trouble"

contemporary romance, romance novel covers, In Skates Trouble by Kate Meader
In Skates Trouble by Kate Meader
Publisher: Kate Meader Books (May 1, 2017)
Series: Chicago Rebels, 0.5
Genre: Contemporary Romance

He'll give her what she needs . . .

Addison Williams isn't looking for romance, but when she encounters an eavesdropping stranger on an adjoining hotel balcony, she figures she's due a little fun. She just hadn't reckoned on the "fun" escalating so quickly to "out of control." One minute she's flirting with a whiskey-graveled voice in the dark, the next that same voice is telling her to do things. Hot, wicked things.

Cup-winning hockey player Ford "Killer" Callaghan can't believe he let the anonymous woman who blew his mind slip away into the night. He'll track her down because once could never be enough—even if discovering her identity places her strictly out of bounds.

Stolen kisses. Secret hook-ups. Deliciously forbidden in every way. Can a passion that started in the dark find a lifetime of love in the light?

Originally published in Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology, this sexy prequel to the Chicago Rebels hockey series features an older, curvy woman, a younger, driven hero, and a happily-ever-after you'll swoon over. 

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Other Reviews for Meader:

One Week to Score
Playing with Fire
Sparking the Fire

Jen's Review:

This book is currently free at Amazon, and originally appeared in an anthology called Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology.

Kate Meader doesn’t have time for an amateur hour “meet cute” and levels right up to the “meet scorch” in her latest, In Skates Trouble. Honestly, it’s a great opening scene. Hockey star Ford Callaghan is sitting on his hotel balcony and thinking about his feelings when he overhears the women on the next balcony talking about how terrible men are at giving oral sex. Ford is riveted, and who wouldn’t be? And, of course, since he knows his oral sex skills are amazing, he’s free to listen without feeling judged. Lol. After the girlfriends leave, Ford strikes up a conversation and joint masturbation session with Addy, the occupant of the adjoining room.

This sucker is only 140 pages, but there’s tons of drama and conflict jammed into it, with each character dealing with both internal and external conflicts. The external obstacles are pretty straightforward: she’s six years older, his team is owned by her ex-husband, and they don’t live in the same city. Ford is determined not to let any of this stand in their way and does everything he can to convince Addy that they have a future. She’s not sure. Great sex alone will not eliminate these problems.

As always with Kate Meader books, the interesting stuff is with the internal conflicts. Ford is a straight-shooter and a likeable guy. He struggles with the part he played in his older brother’s tragic death ten years earlier and how that impacts his relationship with the surviving family members. This was a moving and satisfying plot arc, one that gives him purpose and maturity.

Addy is a famous full-figured model starting her own lingerie line, and she doesn’t want to be distracted by a romance. The gender politics are interesting and thought-provoking. Addy made a lot of money off her beautiful face and figure, but her husband expected her to give up everything and only be a pretty face after their marriage. She resented it and is determined to make her own choices now that she’s free. This is a bit of conundrum for her, though, because she knows that her ex-husband can ruin Ford’s career if he finds out they’re dating. It’s a good dilemma because now Addy is in the power position. She doesn’t want to ruin Ford’s career or give up what she’s building for herself.

Ford thinks he’s more enlightened than her ex-husband, but there are some early warning signs that he has some learning to do. Ford is impressed at Addy’s passion for her new business, but then thinks:

[...] after spending years fending off women looking to use him as a meal ticket, Addy’s independence and comfort in her own skin was more attractive to him than her perfect set of measurements.

This is a problem. Being grateful she’s not a gold digger is not the same as fully supporting the independence, career goals, and aspirations of the woman he wants to date. It was satisfying watching Ford and Addy figure this stuff out. I wished the book was longer, because even though all the elements of the plot are strong, some of the action and resolution felt a little rushed.

I could wrap up right here. This was a solid, satisfying, and sexy read. But, the truth is, along with the Ford and Addy story, I couldn’t help but think about how this book is also representative of some of the issues Romancelandia has been talking about for a long time.  

As a general rule, I don’t read a whole lot of sports romances. My best friend is a hockey fan, and I’ve even been to the Hockey Hall of Fame with her, so I was impressed at all of the ways Kate Meader accurately described the legend and lore around the Stanley Cup. There’s also a description of the sexism that Addy’s friend Harper will face when she takes over in her father’s hockey organization. Ford plays for New Orleans, and although he’d love to live closer to his family in Chicago, he knows Harper

[...] was on tap to take over, but Ford--and just about everyone in the league--had their doubts about how a woman would fare in the cut-throat, testosterone-drenched world of professional hockey. It wasn’t as if this was pansy-assed football.

That sentence just lies there. I get it. That’s how a hockey player would feel and think; but I can’t help but wonder if readers and authors have a responsibility to explicitly challenge sexist and homophobic thinking. I trust Kate Meader will be dealing with these questions in the next book in the series, which features Harper in the starring role, but does that let Ford off the hook in this one? Finally, in a world where we know more and more about CTE, doesn’t it seem odd that I’ve never once had a heroine in a sports romance question a hero’s commitment to a sport that could potentially harm his body or brain? In every romance I’ve ever read where one of the characters is a cop, there’s a reckoning about what that career choice means. But in these sports romances...nothing. How is that possible?

I live in Chicago, and it’s always so fun to read books that are set in the place where you live. I’ve been a fan of Kate Meader ever since the Hot in Chicago series. Being a local means that I know just how desperate Ford must have been to see Addy, because traveling from Bridgeport to Lake Freaking Forest for a booty call is nothing short of heroic. But, at the same time, with each successive book, it’s harder and harder for me to read them because this version of Chicago populated only by white people is just bizarre. Chicago is a stunningly diverse town. A guy on Twitter said about Chicago, “ have you BEEN to Chicago? We’ve got Bertie Bott’s Every Fucking Flavor of Human.” Fine, Ford is a white guy playing a sport dominated by white guys. But there’s no way that the rest of the city surrounding them wouldn’t be a vivid kaleidoscope of humanity. If I had one wish for Kate Meader’s romances, it would be that she could honestly show Chicago in all its complexity and beauty.

Finally, my ruminations about Chicago combined with that quote above about “pansy-assed football” brought me to another realization. I remember when women of color, both readers and authors, pointed out how completely unlikely it would be for football romances to have only white characters. Those concerns stuck with me, and I pledged to do better as a white reader by supporting sports romances that are more inclusive. But I’ve also noticed that there seems to be less football romances, with the overall trend being hockey, hockey, hockey---a sport that’s 93% white players. Obviously, no single author is responsible, but I can’t help but marvel at how the criticism of football romances ended up with publishing making a mass exodus to a mostly white sport. (If you think race isn’t an issue in sports romances, maybe ask yourself why there isn’t a flood of great basketball romances. I suspect it has everything to do with the fact that the NBA is 75% black men.) The state of sexism and racism in sports romance isn’t Kate Meader’s fault or responsibility, but for whatever reason, this is the book that clarified a lot of my thinking on this matter. Our country, our cities, our public institutions, schools, neighborhoods, and sports leagues were all shaped by segregation and injustice. Let’s not segregate our romances, too. I’m proud of the melting pot that is America, and I want to see that reflected in the romances I read.

3 1/2 STARS! 

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Jen bought this ebook.

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Thanks for the review, Jen! I'm really glad you brought up the trouble with having all-white characters, in any romance but especially in a big city AND in a sports romance. It's a discussion we need to keep having until things change. 

And by "we", I mean non-POC readers and authors; POC readers and authors already fight this battle every damn day of their life. It's our turn to step up.


Until Next Time,

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