Game Play is the first book in Lynda Aicher's new Power Play series. I will admit that I was originally drawn in because this book centers around hockey players, and that something I just can't resist. I also loved the fact that the heroine was a hockey player as well. You don't often see a woman that is so good at such a male dominated sport, and I couldn't wait to get to know her better. I did enjoy the story and the characters, but I also thought there was something missing with this one. While it was good, it wasn't great.
Dylan and Samantha met while at a pro charity event, and they instantly were drawn to one another. What started out as a bet to beat the other, quickly turned into a night of passion. They agreed to one night but after seeing the way Samantha was on and off the ice, Dylan knew he wanted more. Looking to lock down a contract with his team, Dylan convinced his coach to hire Samantha to help him train. When Samantha agrees to help, she knows that it will be a temporary gig. After having played for Team USA and her college, she has set her sights on a Masters program in sports psychology. She won't let anyone or anything hold her back, even hockey. But Dylan is determined to show her that the chemistry and connection between them is worth changing her plans for. Can he convince her to take a chance on a future together that is different from what she always planned?
I liked both Dylan and Samantha. Samantha was feisty and independent, and she was such a hard worker. She was determined to be successful at whatever she did, whether it was hockey or school. I loved her dedication and the fact that she was comfortable with who she was. I felt bad for her because she struggled with what so many female athletes do. She was top of her sport, but because of her gender there just weren't opportunities like there are for men. That's part of what really drew me into this story, and I loved how Dylan wasn't afraid to ask for her help. He accepted her talent and skills and listened, and was able to benefit from it. Dylan was great, and I loved that he was such a nice guy. He projected a playboy image for the public, but he was actually quite different. He worked hard for what he wanted, and that is one of the things that really made these two click. They were able to share their love and passion for the sport, and they pushed each other to be better. They supported one another, and I felt like they were able to open each other's eyes in ways others couldn't. While I felt the chemistry and connection between them, I did feel as though Samantha pushed Dylan away far too much. She was sometimes so dead set on something that she missed out on what was right in front of her. I wanted her to take off the blinders and wake up to what she had.
I do think that while I liked these characters as individuals and as a couple, that they both had moments that could have been better. I felt as though while Dylan was a nice guy, that he didn't really stand out much. He seemed to be sort of reliant on those around him, and didn't really seem to have much of a backbone. Samantha frustrated me at times, and I really wanted to see her a bit softer at times. I felt like these two were well on their way to a connection, but I didn't always see the emotional side to them. They were compatible, but it would have been nicer to see their relationship a bit more than their careers and ambitions. Because we saw more of that, I felt a bit disconnected from them. My favorite parts of this story is when they were training together and challenging one another. They had great banter between them, and I loved seeing them have fun and be playful together. I think if this book had focused a bit more on the growing relationship between the two of them rather than them as individuals, that this easily could have been a four or five star book for me. The writing was good, but I just felt like the story could have used a bit more of Dylan and Samantha together. If you like contemporary romance or sports romance stories though, I would recommend giving this one a shot. I will be looking for more from Lynda Aicher in the future, and I am curious to see where she takes the next book in this.
**ARC Provided by Carina Press**