Overall Review: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
When I heard that Kendall Ryan intended to write another hockey sports romance series, this girl was EXCITED. I really adored her Hot Jocks series, specifically the second book. Her newest book, The Rebel, is the first book of her Looking to Score series which centers around a different team, the Boston Titans. Let me give you a tip before reading The Rebel, get your hands on a short novella that precludes The Rebel. I didn’t remember seeing it, and I would have loved to have read it prior to this book because the first quarter of The Rebel was confusing. There is a big jump from her first chapter to the next chapter in time, and I found myself confused. Even more, there is a relationship between the heroine, Eden, and an ex that I wanted more details on. I kept waiting for those details within The Rebel, but you won’t find them at least to the depth I wanted them. Why is that important? Well, the ex, Alex Braun, plays heavily into Eden’s concern with her team. We find that she has given several years to that relationship, and to be honest, at no point in the story did I feel the emotional gravitas of their break-up. For this reader, I would have liked to better understand and feel emotionally committed to our heroine, and I found that to be a red mark against the story development.
Additionally, the hero of The Rebel, Holt, isn’t a hockey player. I repeat, Holt is not a hockey player. There are definitely hockey players in this story, and it revolves around a hockey team, but this story is more about Eden’s growth as the owner of the Boston Titans and a second chance with Holt, who is NOT a hockey player. I think that’s important to note because the blurb gives you the sense that Eden’s romance is sports romance. Quite frankly, it isn’t.
Why am I pointing to all of these things? The need to read the novella, the fact that the hero is not a hockey player…because I believed the story to be something else before reading it, and I don’t want readers to be disappointed when they are treated to a contemporary romance between the new owner of a hockey team and her security detail. The Rebel is more The Bodyguard than Miracle. Now, as a heroine, Eden is an independent, insightful heroine. She has learned to run the Titans under the tutelage of her grandfather. When he passes away, he leaves the team to her. Unfortunately, the fans and some of her players are not thrilled with the idea that a woman is running the team. I loved that Ryan has magnified a real life issue in her bookl. These issues still exist today, and in this story, it becomes the impetus for Holt to re enter her life as protection from the crazy fans. Their chemistry is clear from the first chapter, something that is undermined quickly (which makes for a very confusing first couple of chapters in this book – hence the reason you should read that novella). I do think Ryan should have found moments of danger for her heroine that Holt might have rescued her from. That happens once in the story which made Holt’s purpose seem ancillary. Thankfully, Ryan crafts a steamy burgeoning relationship between these two that distracts you from some of the holes in the story. However, I will be honest. As I was reading this book, I was wishing that I was a beta reader for Ryan as there were places in the story where I would have loved more development or a keener focus.
Do I suggest you read The Rebel by Kendall Ryan? Sure. But, again, I recommend finding the novella and reading it first. Additionally, it is a good story, but it didn’t feel as conceptually tight as her Hot Jocks stories. Will I read the next book, The Rival? Yes. Yes I will. Because that is the way with Kendall Ryan. She writes these interesting characters of which you want more story, and she gives it to you in later books. She just might not give you it exactly as you wish.
In love and romance,