Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
There is a certain magic to Sarina Bowen’s world of hockey players, farmers, and small-town dwellers. When you read her stories, you feel the realness of her character seep into your soul. You can’t help but adore her characters and their troubles because they act as mirrors of fiction to your own life’s issues. Yet, in her books, the happy ending is right away the corner, which allows you to transcend your own current troubles for the span of 200 to 300 pages. When she announced the expansion of her fictional worlds, this reader was ecstatic. Having seen the power of this level of storytelling with Penny Reid, Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward, and K Bromberg, I know how much fun it is to read other authors who build their stories upon a solid foundation. In this case, the foundation is Sarina Bowen’s magic. The challenge of this, though, is trying to situate that same magic in the voices of other authors. There is a guarantee for me that when I read ANY Sarina Bowen book I will find that feeling of comfort, her stories that feel like they are apart of me. When I came to Victoria Denault’s Blindsided, one of the first books of Bowen’s Heart Eyes Press, I was nervous. Would she be able to capture Bowen’s magic in her book from the Moo U world? What I found was a writer who indeed captured Bowen’s magic and made it all her own. Victoria Denault’s Blindsided will remind you why you ADORE the hockey players of Bowen’s universe. Not only does she make us love Tate Adler, but she also adds in flavors of Bowen’s True North series by situating much of this delicious book on the farms of Vermont. This melding of Bowen’s worlds captures the reader and makes them salivate for more.
The Adlers and Todds are neighbors and enemies, generational enemies. The current generation, Tate Adler, college hockey star, and Magnolia “Maggie” Todd, have no idea how the feud began. All they know is they should hate each other. The problem lies in the start of an attraction between the two. Neither is blind to the beauty of the other, but they would never act on it because…well, they are supposed to be mortal enemies. Until…they can’t be. The challenge of Tate and Maggie becomes their ability to love each other when they are surrounded by decades of hate. You must read the story to find out if they can find their happy ending, or will their families destroy it?
What is there to love about this story? Where does the magic lie in Blindsided?
Tate and Maggie’s chemistry is clear from the beginning. They sizzle. There is no doubt in your mind that they aren’t attracted to each other. As Denault’s story progresses, the best part lies in their willingness to fall deeply in love with each other. That change feels emotional and substantial whereas the early stages of their attraction feel base. In that change, any frustration or ire you might feel about Tate or Maggie evaporates. It was there where I felt Denault cement herself in Bowen’s universe.
The banter and rapport between Tate and Maggie and Daisy (Maggie’s sister) and Jace (Tate’s brother) is incendiary and provides much of the humor of this story. Yes, there are times when it feels all too serious, and you hurt for each of them, but their banter and their want to challenge each other makes the book fun.
The resolution of Denault’s story is an interesting one. I won’t divulge this book’s secrets, but I loved the path that she chose to work towards a happy ending for Tate and Maggie.
Simply put, every turn of the page of Victoria Denault’s Blindsided was an easy choice for me. From the first chapter to her epilogue and bonus epilogue found me entrapped in her story. As a beginning to this new venture for Heart Eyes Press, Blindsided is a perfect start, capturing the magic you find in Sarina Bowen’s stories.
In love and romance,