Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
First, it began with Justin and Elise. Then, it was Owen and Becca. After that, it was Teddy and Sara. In the fourth book, there was the story of Asher and Bailey. Now, Kendall Ryan’s newest book, Down and Dirty, gives us the story of Landon and Aubree “Bree.” In each of the Hot Jocks’ books, Ryan offers us a romantic trope, meaning that she’s providing her readers a variety. From the trope of brother’s best friend to her most recent, reverse age gap, quickie Vegas marriage to a virgin, this series offers a little of everything for everyone. Each book moves us deeper into the fast and sexy world of hockey, and it makes for an entertaining afternoon read.
In her newest book, Ryan treats us to the story of Landon and Aubree. Landon is the rookie; he’s the newer guy. And he is all hockey. His past has taught him to work hard and stay focused solely on hockey. However, his lack of playing time in the season creates an unease. He’s made friends and begun to settle in Seattle, but he’s not sure if he’s long for the Seattle Ice Hawks, and this worries him. Keeping his focus on hockey is key.
Aubree is one of the girls in their friend group. While Landon is focused on hockey, Aubree has always captured his attention. Yes, she is older than Landon, but he has always been more mature than most. He’s attracted to her, but unsure that she would even consider him. While in Vegas for Owen and Becca’s bachelor and bachelorette parties, Landon and Aubree test their chemistry. It ends in a surprise marriage. Not wanting to annul their marriage, Landon hopes that Aubree will try to work it out with him. However, Aubree’s need for independence seeks to derail their fledgling marriage. Will they work it out, or will their quickie marriage end in divorce?
It isn’t a trial to exist in the world of Kendall Ryan’s hockey series. Each book has offered steamy bedroom scenes, enough angst to keep her readers engaged, and happily-ever-afters to make the angst worth it. Along with these qualities, her readers are treated to a variety of tropes, so there is literally something here for everyone. Landon and Aubree’s story in Down and Dirty is no different. What is a bit different, though, is that Landon is a virgin. I have to admit…I don’t read many romances where this is the case, and I kind of like it. It makes for a certain level of tension in the story as you are never sure if Landon will give up his V card to Aubree. You want it for him, but Ryan does a great job of toeing the line between “will they” or “won’t they.” Obviously, the readers want it, but Ryan keeps you guessing for most of the book.
Yet, there are places where I struggled with Down and Dirty. I wanted more backstory for Aubree. She is the most reticent for their relationship. She’s the thorn in the side of it, and I wanted to understand more. Ryan doesn’t really play up their age-gap in the story. In fact, it is barely touched on. If there is something in Aubree’s past that has made her spurn relationships, I would have liked to know that. Additionally, Landon still has his V card, although he has engaged in other bedroom activities. So much so, he is a consummate expert. Why? He’s pleasured other women, but yet, he hasn’t received it. Ryan chalks it up to his want to find the right woman plus his need to stay focused on hockey, as his future is precarious in the sport. Yet, it didn’t feel organic enough for the story. I would have liked more of his psychology. Of the two, we find out more about Landon than Aubree in that regard, but I wanted a bit more of their back stories.
For me, this story felt the most contrived of the five books. Landon is my favorite part of Down and Dirty. I appreciate Aubree’s character as a strong independent woman, but there was very little background for the reader to understand her stubbornness with Landon. This made her unlikeable in a way.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Down and Dirty. I especially loved returning to the members of the Seattle Ice Hawks. This is the power of this series. Each book reminds us of how much we love Kendall Ryan’s characters and their stories. It feels like visiting an old friend who we haven’t seen for a while. Down and Dirty gives us more of the players’ stories while developing Landon and Aubree’s. It is here where Kendall Ryan reminds us that we are always stronger when we love fully. Landon and Aubree show us that an unexpected attraction can offer a wealth of love if we allow ourselves to accept it.
In love and romance,