Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
“‘But I want you, only you,’ he says, his voice hushed and sincere. ‘If you’ll have me.’”
You could say that I’ve been ALL IN with Kendall Ryan’s Hot Jocks series. From Justin and Elise in Playing for Keeps to Owen and Becca in All the Way to Teddy and Sara in Trying to Score, I’ve read them all (as an aside, to date, Owen and Becca own my heart). And through this all, I’ve fallen further into Ryan’s world of hockey superstars and their sassy, intelligent heroines. There is something here for everyone in this series: best friend’s sister, second chance, friends to lovers, etc. Through all of them, I’ve celebrated their highs and mourned their lows, falling into their stories and their romances. Kendall Ryan’s newest book, Crossing the Line, is no different. It is more of what you love about Ryan’s storytelling: great dialogue, off-the-page chemistry, $exy hero, and sassy heroine. In this book, all of this is wrapped in the cover of a friends-to-lovers story. If you’re like me, and you’ve read this series, then you will absolutely love Asher and Bailey’s story, and here’s why:
*For one, this book gives us a bit of a break from the hockey world. In this story, we are treated to a getaway to Asher’s grandmother’s home in San Diego. For this California girl, I love when my home state is featured. It reminds me of everything I love about where I live, and Ryan chose one of my favorite places. Since this is set in a beach city, we get Asher and Bailey in swim gear, which is chemistry gold. Both of them are instantly attracted to each other physically. That’s easy in this story; that’s Ryan’s capital in this book.
*Because Asher and Bailey are easily attracted to each other, the central struggle with this pair is crossing the line of friendship and professionalism. To be honest, though, I struggled with the depth of that line. I think the worry about professionalism is insignificant since Bailey isn’t really Asher’s nurse or doctor; instead, she is his friend with some nursing skills that help him. The line, then, is clearly friend-related, but even this isn’t a huge imposition. Their friends have waited for these two to acknowledge their interest, and they are hugely supportive of it. The challenge of this romance lies in Bailey’s ambitious life. That is where the angst of this story resides, and the best part of Ryan is she doesn’t make us work too hard through it. She presents it as the tension of the story, but she relieves us of it fairly quickly, which means most of this story allows us to enjoy these two falling for each other. They are funny together; they are comfortable with each other; and they grow more respectful of each other. This makes Crossing the Line equal parts sweet and $exy.
*Asher’s family is another key component of Ryan’s story. I love it when grandmothers and grandfathers play a part in matchmaking. Ryan builds the character of Asher’s grandmother so well that you find yourself laughing at her one moment and wishing for a hug from her in the next. Ryan’s use of Asher’s family becomes a huge part of Asher and Bailey’s relationship growth. Without them, these two would still be docked. Instead, his family offers Bailey opportunities to see Asher as something more than her casual hockey-player friend. It humanizes him in her eyes, and this becomes the foundation for their romance. It’s a key quality of Ryan’s story, and she shows her storytelling prowess here.
Kendall Ryan’s Crossing the Line is more of what you love about her Hot Jocks series. In fact, in my mind, it’s tied for second place with Playing for Keeps behind Owen and Becca’s All the Way. Where Justin and Elise are salty together, Asher and Baily are sweet, a nice dessert in the Hot Jocks series. If you’re a fan of hot hockey players and the strong, intelligent women who fall for them, then you want to read this series, and Asher and Bailey have definitely left their mark in it.
In love and romance,