Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
So…one way to get my heart pumping and my stomach dropping in a book is cheating or the appearance of it. I know some readers love it as a mechanism in their romance to build steamy heat between a couple, but it often fills me with a little bit of dread.
Enter the prologue to Kim Findlay’s Halftime. Talk about a hook. After reading it along with the first chapter, you can’t help but feel your heart pounding.
Halftime exists in the Moo U series published through Sarina Bowen’s Heart Eyes Press, and it follows Seb, a hockey player on the Burlington U men’s hockey team, and Hailey, an incoming freshman goalie for the women’s hockey team. Seb and Hailey dated in high school, as they circled each other through hockey. Seb, a year older than Hailey, is off at college, and it seems as though he accidentally cheated on Hailey. As the story progresses, we find out there is more to the story. Even more, Seb and Hailey must work through seeing each other on campus and the reappearance of old feelings.
There is much to love about Halftime. For one, Findlay takes the space of her story to illustrate the disparity between women’s and men’s hockey, something that Sarina Bowen herself has focused on in her recent story, Bombshells. Taking the space of the story and actually focusing a portion of Hailey’s characterization on this topic adds gravity to this book which feels necessary. Hailey’s dream is to play on a professional men’s hockey team; her father has raised her with that mission in mind. However, that dream becomes complicated in the realm of women’s hockey. This particular focus shows the complexity of Hailey’s journey.
Additionally, this is a story of second chances, and Seb, while seemingly the “bad guy” at the beginning of the book, is actually a stalwart hero. He’s not a typical hockey “player” as we read Connor, one of his teammates, working hard to corrupt him. He’s a monogamist, and he is also deeply in love with Hailey even though their story is complicated. A hero drawn like Seb makes reading an emotional story easier because he instills trust in the reader.
Even more, Hailey’s story, besides focusing on the disparities of gender, takes a particular turn towards the psychology of families. We also find this in Seb’s story as well. Both Hailey and Seb are products of their upbringings, and this causes issues for their future. Kim Findlay is careful to illustrate the work that must be done to make better choices than one’s parents.
For me, however, Halftime wasn’t perfect. There were times when Seb and Hailey’s choices seemed inconsistent with the progression of their journeys. Seb’s choice to walk away from Hailey felt contrived to bring tension to their story. I think there might have been better ways to work through their troubles.
Overall, though, I thought Seb and Hailey as a couple is a perfect addition to the Moo U universe. There is a sensitivity and compassion to their characterizations that connects you to them emotionally. I am excited to see if we will get Connor’s story as he was one of the most compelling characters of this book. If you’ve loved Sarina Bowen’s World of True North, Halftime is a must-read.
In love and romance,