Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
Playmaker, another story in the World of True North Moo U series, illustrates the depth of storytelling developed in this expanded Sarina Bowen universe. Sierra Hill has captured the essence of Bowen’s college hockey players through her characterization of Callan “Church” and Aria. Aria has left her home in Minnesota to escape her father’s scandal, hoping that she can continue to work unimpeded onto the US Women’s Hockey team. Callan, the star center for the illustrious Moo U Men’s hockey team, is hoping to avoid women and relationships as he muddles his way through determining if his future is professional hockey. One is hungry for a future in hockey, while the other isn’t sure given his own father’s professional hockey lifestyle. When Callan “saves” Aria from one of his drunk teammates, there is an instant connection even though they both fight it. As the book progresses, that attraction grows like a wildfire in a dry field, and they must decide if they can have a future together.
One of the things I loved about Hill’s Playmaker is its focus on the disparity between men’s and women’s sports. This has been a common theme in several of the Moo U stories that feature the Moo U female hockey players. All that Aria wants is to play on the US Women’s Hockey Team because it’s a last attempt to continue playing hockey given there are no viable professional hockey options for women. Hill deftly contrasts Callan’s experience in that he has the opportunity to play professional hockey, but takes that opportunity for granted. In the space of this book, Hill illustrates the dichotomy of this situation, and it challenges the reader’s understanding of professional sports and its inequity.
I also loved her characters. Aria and Callan are incredibly likable even when Callan tries to spurn Aria. Hill helps us understand his intention even if it’s frustrating. However, once these two fall accept their attraction for each other, their relationship is easy. They complement each other, and friendship and the kindred interest in hockey are foundational to their coupling. While the story itself plays out with its complications, Callan and Aria’s eventual happy ending becomes the salve for the tension of Hill’s story.
Sierra Hill’s Playmaker impressed me. It is a perfect addition to the Moo U series, adding more stories and depth to the World of True North. If you love hockey romance, then you’ll love Aria and Callan’s story.
In love and romance,