So of course, as in all things, I am late to the party. Before being home for quarantine for a long ass time, I had no clue that there were sub-genre’s within romance. But on my quest to cross things off my reading list, (I have so many lists.) Audible has opened my eyes for me. My goodness do I miss watching my sports. (Don’t get me wrong, I get why there has been an interruption and I want everyone, players, fans, coaching staff, etc to be safe.) Of course people have a deeper appreciation when things they enjoy are taken from them. However, in my quest to refuse to succumb to boredom, I have turned to a lot of different things.
So my last post was a review of me stumbling on to the awesome hockey romance that is Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn. So it was to my delight that there was another in the series. (We will talk about the book Tomboy from her other series that introduced these Ice Knights characters that I stumbled onto the other day. You’ll find I do a lot of stumbling.) Alas, I shall do a post about that as soon as I finish that book. I am currently listening/reading now because I need something to listen to it before the third book in the series comes out. (Loud Mouth by Avery Flynn, Ice Knights series book 3). Also I need to know how this all started. But now for the topic at hand, Awk-weird caught my eye not only because I am obsessive and have to get a whole collection especially since I enjoyed the first story in the collection, but because I couldn’t tell whether or not the lady on the cover was pregnant or not. The summary intrigued me. I mean the boy meets girl he barely knows and knocks her up but they find love and make things work has always been one of my favorite troupes (although fake dating always wins out in the end.) This could have turned out to be super cheesy but instead was endearing and heartwarming.
Tess and Cole meet at their friend Lucy’s wedding. Cole is the forward for the Ice Knights hockey team. Enter, Tess our nerdy friend. They meet while Cole and his teammates are playing trivia the night before the wedding. Tess overhears the questions and answers (correctly) under her breath and to herself. And she should know because that’s her way to deal with stressful situations… blurting out random trivia. Tess is roped into playing with Cole after she is spotted holding up the wall. And I get a kick out of the fact that even though a large bet is on the line. Tess takes pity on their rookie opponents and talks Cole into throwing the game. Cole and she disappear from the reception and wake up in bed together the next day. Talk about an awkward morning with trying to find your clothes and make it to a hair and makeup for the wedding. Tess spews out fact after fact making an awkward situation more awkward. Although, Cole is not off put by her like most people are and lets her escape with her dignity but with a bit of a surprise present.
Everything about Cole’s life is order and routine even down to what he eats every morning. He’s stuck in his ways and has a hard time when presented with a new coaching style and new plays to learn. Even the woman he’s with is on again off again and while it bothers him, he’s pretty confident it will all go according to plan. Because “that’s what they do.” Moving a lot as a child, he came to depend on routining to keep normal and it kind of stuck. It is his comfort zone and he relishes in it. But his hockey career with the Ice Knights is in danger because of his refusal to go with the flow.
Tess’s story annoys me because I have had people in my life with similar stories. Tess grew up with her mother who was less than reliable and ended up leaving her with relatives when something else came along. The something else being a man or a new class she wanted to take or whatever. Tess’s experiences with these relatives were harsh mostly because they were pissed at Tess’s mom with being CONSTANTLY saddled with another child with no end in sight. Her mom would say… Tess will be here for… 2 weeks and that would stretch 4 or 5 weeks because her mom wasn’t responsible. Her relatives took out their frustrations on her since her mother wasn’t around to bear the brunt of things, telling her that she was best in small doses. Her cousins never wanted to be seen with her at school and she took that an internalized it. She believed that everyone in her life was temporary, because once they realize that she annoyed them, they will leave. Making her drive to be self sufficient all the more pronounced. Tess is my favorite type of main character. Nerdy, shy, bookish. The blurting out random trivia when she was nervous or uncomfortable was fun. I now have more useless facts rattling around in my brain thanks to this book. What was also interesting was that Cole was able to put two and two together fairly quickly. He correctly guessed that it was her way to try and make uncomfortable situations more palatable for her. He even eventually tells her his own trivia to help calm her down in certain cases.
Well things hit the fan for both characters when Tess finds out she is pregnant. Besides that fun bit of news, the ceiling in her apartment above her flower shop caves in making it uninhabitable for a few weeks. Where do her friends and his teammates think she should stay? With Cole of course, I mean hell they are having a baby anyway. Sure push Tess and her cat (Khan) in with a man that enjoys order, structure and control. Add to that Tess’s pessimistic view of not belonging, abandonment issues and feelings of inferiority making it difficult for Tess to believe in a happily ever after. This seemed like there was going to be a lot of adjustments and letting people in going on but of course with these two not without struggle.
To me, it was hilarious to listen to two people struggle with their attraction for each other… while living in the same house… not to mention, the sex ship has already sailed. Nothing better than listening to two people dancing around the issue that they want a repeat of whatever raunchy, sexiness happened in the hotel room. Tess’s inner thoughts about Cole are the best.
It is not until she blurts out in the car that pregnancy drives up a woman’s sex drive and that there are certain areas of the body that become more sensitive than others that she even gives into the idea of sleeping with him again. (The idea being that since she hasn’t been able to sleep… maybe orgasm will get her to dreamland.) The word vomit was real. He asks her why didn’t she just say something if she wanted something from him because he was more than happy to comply.
Tess has real doubts how things are going to work with Cole and the baby as he is going to have to travel all over the country and only be home for a few days at a time during the season. She steels herself on the idea that she will be alone with her baby much of the time. It is what she is used to and it is easier than just letting Cole in right? The thing that annoyed me was Tess’s constant use of the word temporary. Cole was actually trying with her and she was running away from him top speed. Cole made the effort to constantly call her, and leaving her voicemails when she didn’t answer. But I noticed early on that she wasn’t answering on purpose because she didn’t want to participate in the intimacy of a phone call with him. (Hiding behind being awkward…. which he already knows… he is calling you anyway.) She would call him back when she knew he was on the ice and couldn’t pick up. Then she would leave her own voicemails. She kept bringing up returning to her apartment as a way to wall him out. And I totally get that her family were jerks and made her this way but she even expected her great friends to walk away at some point and I wanted to scream at my phone every time she would take two steps forward and two steps back. She would open up and then close off and retreat. (Making me want to scream is part of the job of the slow burn.) Cole is sharp though because he just asks whatever is on his mind.
Cole for his part has to face change pretty quickly with Tess moving into his space, cooking in his kitchen and letting her demon cat move in as well. (Should pregnant women be dealing with cats? Is that a rumor that I heard or is that fact?) Her being in his space he realizes doesn’t bother him at all… and he even lets go of the idea that he should get back together with his ex because ‘it is just what they do.” He makes great strides but when Tess takes steps back so does he and it wreaks havoc on his performance on the ice and he is left thinking why should he even try and embrace change if he ends up burned in the end.
Here is another female character that lives in Harbor City where everyone breathes hockey. And she really has no clue about it… despite coming to the games with her diehard friend Fallon. It was interesting seeing her come to terms with his job and how she dealt with the possibility of Cole being injured on the ice. I don’t think that I ever considered what the family of players in contact sports feel. Mother’s, wives, girlfriends must suck it up before every game. That was a new perspective to see.
But as with the other Avery Flynn books, the friends/teammates are key. The girls come together and point out that Tess needs to let someone in and not everyone is like her damn family. They point out that Cole is in love with her and she needs to decide if she is going to admit how she feels about him or continue being miserable. Cole’s teammates come to his house to force him to open about what is really bothering him and figure out what he wants. They also force him to see things from Tess’s perspective which when you are angry sometimes you are unable to do.
In the end, this is my favorite Flynn book by far and I have read a lot of Flynn in the past 30 days so there you have it. She gives up fleshed out characters with real hang-ups and then gives them a support system so that they can talk out and work past their issues. I really enjoyed getting to know Tess and Cole. They came together pretty fast and resisted the fall as best they could, but they were two sides of the same coin and more alike they think in the beginning. I am looking forward to book three which should be out in about a week. I still have to do the post about Tomboy so stayed tuned. In the meantime, get the book read it… and tell me your thoughts below.