Tuesday, February 13, 2018

ARC Review: Shot on Gold by Jaci Burton

Series:     Play-by-Play #14
Pub. Date:Feb. 13, 2018
Length:344 pgs

In the latest Play-by-Play novel, Jaci Burton has moved slightly away from the realm of professional athletes and provided us a story involving Olympians. I believe this is the first story I have read involving Olympic athletes, so it was a nice change of pace. While I don't typically watch the Winter Olympics, this story coming out during the start of the games has me curious enough to take a gander.

Our heroine is Amber Sloane, a twenty-four year old ice princess figure skater at the end of her Olympic career. Amber has ate, slept and breathed figure skating from a young age, and she needs that gold medal to end her career with a bang. But between her momager and wallflower shyness, Amber seemingly has nothing in her life but skating. She has no friends, no experience, and is hanging on to that V-Card pretty late in life. Fortunately Amber has decided to open up for these last games, and she sets out to make friends and gain experience. I liked seeing Amber soften her focus and live life for herself for a change. I wish she had been more assertive with her mother, but I'm sure old habits die hard and all of that.

Will "Mad Dog" Madigan is a fun-loving hockey player and, in the past, was a known partier and ladies man. This year he has changed his tune and hopes to actually remember some of his time at the games. I thought Will's character was a good mix of flirty fun and serious athlete. I liked that he didn't immediately take Amber up on her proposition, that he respected her enough as a person to wait and see if they were in the same headspace. I also liked that Will came from such a loving family background, and he was secure enough in himself to believe in love on a grand scale. It seems that the cover model (and his tattoos) fit Will to perfection, and I always love having that visual.

The romance between these two was not instalove, but also not a slow burn. Given that our heroine is still hanging onto her V-Card, the hero was somewhat reluctant to jump right in there. That being said, Amber transformed from virgin to vixen in a flash, and once they got going, they really got going. Amber's directness and dirty talk was in contrast with the wallflower we see at the start of the book, and was somewhat representative of the personal growth she was experiencing. Overall, I think these two were a good match and I liked them together. At times, the writing felt a bit forced or overly simplistic... but then some Olympic interest would divert my attention and get me back into the story.

So probably the most interesting aspect of this book to me was the Olympic village and all the goings on there. I have never really thought about where the athletes live and mingle during the games, so this part really drew me in and had me wanting more. While I'm not a huge hockey or figure skating fan, the discussion of some of the other winter sports piqued my interest enough to want to check out the half-pipe and slalom events.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Berkley. 

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