Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
How do you move beyond disappointment? How do you live your life to avoid continued disappointment? These seem to be the underlying questions of Rebecca Jenshak’s newest book, Secret Puck, the first book of her new Campus Nights series. As her hero, Heath, Nathan of The Fake’s brother, and Ginny, the heroine, journey into relationship status, we are met time and time again with their need to overcome their past so that they can find a future together. What is being touted as a “teammate’s sister” romance is really less about that and more about learning to love after love in past let you down. And for me, that lesson is the gravity that tethers this story.
At its most generic level, Secret Puck continues the stories of Jenshak’s Valley University. If you have read any of her Smart Jocks series and her golf romance, Sweet Spot, you know that Valley is Jenshak’s treasure trove. As a lover of new adult sports romance myself, I am thrilled about this new series as it explores a different sport: hockey. That Jenshak connected this hockey romance to her basketball heroes and heroines adds a cherry to the top of her romance sundae. Yes, there are cameos of her former heroes and heroines. For Jenshak readers, they will delight in this aspect of Secret Puck.
What I loved, however, is Heath and Ginny’s coupling. Here’s the thing. Yes, as the blurb says, Heath is the teammate to Ginny’s brother, Adam. And yes, there is tension in the revelation of their coupledom, but that isn’t the key focus of this story. Instead, Ginny and Heath overcoming their past disappointments is the mainstay of Secret Puck. For Heath, this causes issues with his future with Ginny, and quite honestly, Ginny is one cool chick. She isn’t overbearing, and she generally loves just “hanging out” with Heath. For a playboy, there is no danger until the “L” word comes into play. Even then, the angst of that revelation is minor, and Jenshak walks us carefully through it so as not to hurt our hearts too much. Even more, Ginny is navigating her first year at Valley coming off of a high school experience that left her with few friends. Together, these two create a family with Ginny’s brother, Heath’s teammates, and Dakota and Reagan who live across the hall from the guys. That family is the core of Heath and Ginny’s relationship, and that family saves them from themselves. When you finish this story, you feel satiated by the completeness of their story.
Having beta read this story, there are a few moments that I would have liked for Jenshak to remove, but that’s my own personal preference. As the story goes, you easily see the other stories coming. I can’t wait for Adam and Reagan’s story, the second book of this new series. And I’m definitely intrigued for Maverick’s and Rathrauss’s stories too.
How do you get beyond disappointment? You allow yourself to love again. You live in the moment, and you embrace the day. If we live in the past and allow it to be our rudder, we will ultimately miss our path. Instead, as Rebecca Jenshak’s Secret Puck suggests, letting love guide you will take you on the path to your dream.
In love and romance,