Delay of Game by Tracey Richardson is a book I couldn’t put down. It hit so many of the right buttons for me that I read it almost in one sitting. The story opens in the run up to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Niki Hartling, still trying to recover from the death of her wife, is offered the chance to coach Canada’s women’s ice hockey team for the Olympic tournament. It is with some trepidation that she accepts the offer; as a single mother, there are many obstacles in her way. One of those obstacles is Eva Caruso, Niki’s former lover who is trying to coax her battered body through one more Olympics for the Americans. At its peak, their relationship was tumultuous and ended badly. Now that things seem to be thawing between them, can they regain what they had, or will the machinations of others in the quest to gain the gold medal keep them apart?
Niki Hartling is a professor of sports management at the University of Windsor. She is a former Olympic level hockey player for the Canadian team, and was one of the best. Hockey at that level is far behind her, or so she thinks. These days, she prefers to devote her time to her daughter. Her wife passed away a few years ago of cancer, and she wants to make sure Rory lacks for nothing. However, when she’s approached to coach the Canadian women’s hockey team, she can’t resist the challenge. She is a cautious woman, one who is being forced to consider her past. Niki is generally ruled by her head, but her heart has a tendency to make its desires known at the most inconvenient times.
Eva Caruso is Niki’s opposite in many ways. She has continued to play hockey at the highest levels, even though her body is starting to break down under the strain of playing at such a high level. After she and Niki broke up under the strain of competing against each other at the Olympics years earlier, she’s become more than a bit of a player with the ladies. Where Niki settled down, Eva continued to play the field. When she meets up with Niki again, Eva realizes that she never got over her lover, and does what she can to win her back. At the same time, she has to deal with a coach who will do whatever she has to in order to win, and teammates much younger than she gunning for her position.
The Writing Style
This is the first Tracey Richardson book I’ve read, and it definitely won’t be the last. Richardson was able to put me on the ice, and make me yearn to strap my skates back on and get out there again. The hockey scenes were fantastic, and very true to the game. I absolutely loved the game and practice scenes. However, as great as the scenes on the ice were, it’s the scenes off the ice that really push the story forward. The pacing of the book was so relentless that I just had to keep reading. The characters are engaging and I simply had to know what else was in store for them.
A really interesting thing that Richardson did was to loosely base the story around the events of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The scores of the games are true to life, but the characters and the details of the games are all products of the author’s prodigious imagination. I really appreciated that nod to reality.
There are so many things to love about this book. There are great characters working to be together in a seemingly impossible situation. The scenes on the ice were wonderful and visceral, but without slowing down the story. I’ve heard it said that in some sport romances, the sport scenes can get in the way of the plot, which is definitely not the case here. The action on the ice is as important as what happens off the ice, both in terms of character and plot development.
I have no cons to list. The story was wonderful, and I wish there were more ice hockey romances out there to go binge on right now, at least until I can get my own butt back out on the ice.
This is a great read. It’s a fast read, and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you want to stand up and cheer when you get to the end. If you’re a fan of sports romances, this one’s for you. If you’re a fan of romance novels where there’s just the right amount of angst and some major obstacles to overcome, this one is also for you. Tracey Richardson has a new fan in me, and if you’re new to her work, I’m sure you’ll be right there with me. Fortunately, she has a passel of books already out, so you’ll be set.
Excerpt from Delay of Game by Tracey Richardson
“How’s the knee feeling?”
Eva looked up sharply. She hadn’t noticed Alison Hiller, head coach of Team USA, climb into the bench from the stands. Alison was the bitter pill she’d have to swallow in returning to the team.
“Fine,” Eva said, still gulping air like a swimmer who’d stayed under too long.
“Liar,” Alison said, exacting a thin smile. Eva knew the long-time coach couldn’t care less how she was feeling, aslong as she was able to perform. “Think you’re ready for a full practice tomorrow? Or should we yellow jersey you for a couple more days?”
Yellow jerseys in practice meant the player was injured or rehabbing, and the other players were to go easy on her.
Against her better judgment, Eva said, “I’ll be ready.” Alison’s eyes narrowed skeptically, but she nodded once.
“Good. I want to see you put in a good practice, then we’ll have a sit-down.”
By design, Eva had avoided Alison as much as possible these last few days. But that would need to change, as the team began working more closely together and more intensely to prepare for the Olympics. Their first exhibition game, against the University of Minnesota women’s team, was less than three weeks away.
“Fine,” Eva said.
Alison turned to go, then leaned back over the boards, something perversely pleasurable in her expression. “How’s this for some juicy gossip?” She didn’t wait for Eva to reply. “Team Canada’s announcing tomorrow they’re firing Rogers as their coach.”
“Good for them,” Eva snapped, not giving a shit what her rival team did or didn’t do.
“Guess who’s replacing him?”
Eva sighed impatiently. “I don’t know, Wayne Gretzky? No, wait. Mickey Mouse? Spiderman?”
“More like Wonder Woman.” Her laughter was like nails on a chalkboard. “Your old flame, in fact. Niki Hartling.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781594935268
- Publisher: Bella Books
Tracey Richardson Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Delay of Game by Tracey Richardson. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.