Author: Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn
Series: Hat Trick, book 3
Publisher: Carina Press (August 17, 2020)
Kindle edition, 304 pages
Romance, Contemporary romance, Adult romance
Daniel “Bellzie” Bellamy should be on top of the world—a Stanley Cup is the perfect topper to his fourteen-year NHL career. But despite the post-win high, something’s missing. When the chance to play for his hometown team, the Miami Thunder, comes along, he’s open to it. And when he runs into an old friend from his past soon after he makes the move, he wonders if it might be kismet.
Micah Kelly never thought he’d see his childhood crush—and first kiss—again. Danny Bellamy moved on to bigger and better things when they were teenagers, and the idea that Micah’s relationship with the professional hockey player could be anything more than one-sided Instagram thirst seems too good to be true.
Maybe too good to be true is the new reality, though. As the season goes on, Micah teaches Daniel to surf, and Daniel introduces Micah to his lovable pack of rescue dogs and the world of being a hockey boyfriend. Life is good. But when things on the ice don’t go as planned, they’ll have to decide if their rediscovered romance is built to last.
If you love a good friends to lovers romance and some hot hockey action, Trade Deadline is the book for you. I adore that Daniel and Micah were childhood friends (and each others’ first kiss!) and then are able to reconnect as adults, so it’s almost a bit of a childhood sweethearts romance as well. I loved reading about Micah’s job at the aquarium, working to rehab animals to be released into the wild. Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn also give us a bit of a different perspective into a player’s life in this hockey romance – most hockey romances are about up-and-comers fighting to win the Cup, but Daniel is fresh off a Stanley Cup win and his career is sort of in its golden years. As Micah would say, he already “won” at hockey, so it’s about his work to figure out where his life is going next.
I don’t love kids in romance novels (maybe because as a mom of small children I’m trying to get a little more of an escape!) but I was intrigued by Daniel’s relationship with his ex-wife and how their family unit functions. I feel like both Daniel and Micah’s hang-ups and the major wrenches thrown into their relationship weren’t very large hurdles at all and were just repetitively dragged out, so the book felt a bit slow and bogged down. It’s OK to just have a sort of fluffy, hot romance without a bunch of drama, and it felt like some of the conflict was really forced to stretch it out and give it more “plot” – when really it just sort of bogged down the whole book. This seems to be a typical problem with the friends to lovers trope in general; when your relationship is built on a really strong, solid friendship there just isn’t a lot of that drama you get with enemies to lovers, for example.
This is the third book in the Hat Trick series, and can be read as a standalone. I’m really hoping we get another book for Morley, because he’s hilarious!!
A digital ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.