Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Our upbringings play such a key role in the future adults we become. The actions of our parents oftentimes determine the actions we take later in life. In Rebecca Jenshak’s newest book, Slapshot, a Moo U book in the Sarina Bowen universe, this message becomes clear through the story of Lex and Kaitlyn. In Jenshak’s story, Kaitlyn has lived in the shadow of her father, and his busy life choices have influenced Kaitlyn’s purview of romantic relationships. She is always ready to leave people before they leave her, and she sabotages those relationships to bring them to an end. Additionally, as her father is a famous hockey player, Kaitlyn turned her back on the sport in her youth as a way to find a space away from him. In doing so, she cut herself off from a sport she loves. As Jenshak’s story continues, Kaitlyn finds herself needing money so she finds a job as the equipment manager for the hockey team, much to her chagrin. It is there where she meets Lex, the hero of Slapshot. Lex is a freshman on the Burlington U hockey team, and he feels like he has much to prove. One of the hardest working players on the team, Lex wants to get playing time, but he finds himself struggling to achieve. As Kaitlyn gains confidence in her abilities to be the equipment manager for the team, Lex is drawn to her for her beauty, her intelligence, and her unspoken emotional pain. Together, Kaitlyn helps Lex achieve, while Lex tries to help Kaitlyn come to terms with her relationship with her father. Ultimately, these two find their happy ending, but it isn’t an easy one.
Of the first three Moo U stories, Rebecca Jenshak’s Slapshot stands out as the most “hockey” of them all. I’ve been reading her sports romances over the past year and a half, and this is one of Jenshak’s strengths. She legitimizes sports romances. You believe the “sport” part of her stories while falling in love with its romances. This is a distinct strength of her book in the comparison to Blindsided and Holdout.
Additionally, Jenshak has the capacity to craft heroes whom you can’t help but adore. Lex is definitely in Jenshak’s wheelhouse. I think it’s easy to think that a generous and empathic hero can be dull, but that isn’t the case in Slapshot. While Lex is fairly easygoing with Kaitlyn, he gives as good as he gets from her. Lex is amenable and swoony in his interest in Kaitlyn, but he also doesn’t act as a “doormat” to her aggression. It’s refreshing to read the “angst” of the story in this context because it doesn’t weigh the reader down. Instead, it makes you feel their pain with the promise that Lex’s character qualities will deliver them to a happy ending.
As far as her heroine, Kaitlyn, Jenshak makes her somewhat unlikable in the beginning. I was worried at first that I wouldn’t invest myself in her. However, with her careful construction, Jenshak humanizes Kaitlyn, allowing us to understand her pain. Jenshak makes her likable and uses her to challenge Lex just as Lex challenges her.
Honestly, of the first three stories of the Moo U series, Slapshot is my favorite thus far. It is the MOST “hockiest” book of the three. Even more, Jenshak treats us to a delicious hero in Lex, and a heroine who makes the reader work at loving her. If you are a sports romance, specifically a hockey romance, fan, then you will LOVE this book. I did.
In love and romance,