Cross Check My Heart
by Kerri Nelson
Spicy Contemporary Romance Novella
(Eternal Press, 2009)
Synopsis: One woman running from her past, one man chasing his future…when their worlds collide, passion and danger ignite the way! She’s on the run from something ominous in her past. She escapes to a new town and a new job as the physical therapist for the U.S. Hockey Team, which is preparing for the Winter Olympics. He’s a veteran hockey player with a secret of his own that threatens his chances at making the final cut for the team. (from the Eternal Press website)
Eye-Roll Factor: 10/10
Zero eye-rolling. Zero. In general, I'm a sucker for sports romances (of which this was one), so I was already excited to red this book. Add to it the fact that it's about 70 pages long, so there's less space to go wrong. And add to that the fact that the author does a superb job of pacing and keeping romance cliches out of the focus. Nicely done.
The Cosmo Factor: 21/25
I am notoriously hard on heroines, as you all know. I definitely enjoyed this heroine (her name was Jana). I liked that she was willing to be vulnerable with him. At times, I definitely was frustrated with her. But I always think that no one is good enough for the hero but me. Haha. Okay, but seriously. She's a good person, she's written well. She is not square or flat. I liked her. If we were in a bar, I would raise a glass. I may even buy her a drink after awhile... if I can have her hero... ;-)
The Dining Room to Bedroom Factor: 25/25
Okay, dudes. Seriously. This guy... seriously. If you know me, you know I have a weakness for hockey players to begin with, and wounded heros on top of that, and Italian men to boot. This guy... he's all those things. If he were a werewolf, I may have had to go over the 25 mark... because seriously. Okay, I'm a writer, and I can't come up with anything better than "seriously" to communicate how much I enjoyed this hero. Because I think there are just no words. There are no words to describe how much I liked this guy. The hot athletic thing, the wounded thing, the protectiveness, the solidarity, the general hotness. Seriously.
The Braveheart Factor: 9/10
Since there is no "history" in this story, I'm defaulting to my knowledge of hockey, sports, and the Olympics. I was impressed with the way that Kerri Nelson wrote the hockey lifestyle. There were just a couple of places where I thought... eh, I don't know if athletes would talk like that. Especially hockey athletes. But in general, excellent work.
The Nostalgia Re-Read Factor: 10/10
Oh, no question about it, I'm gonna read this again. I have got to spend some more time with Danny. I don't think I can live my life without spending more time with Danny. In fact, if you meet any Danny's out there, I am currently single. :-)
The Skim Factor: 10/10
No skimming here. It was short and well-written. Every section moved the plot forward and was interesting. I was invested in the characters and the details added to the forward movement of the story.
The Little People Factor: 9/10
The rivalry and the villain subplot were both surprisingly well-developed for there only being 70 pages. In fact, when I looked back, I was surprised at how short it was. I think that Kerri Nelson just did a great job of making every scene count, and making every detail count, because I felt like the minor characters were real and necessary, and that is always a good thing. Plus, she didn't try to introduce a bunch of characters she couldn't develop, which is a mistake I see novella-authors do from time to time. Makes it hard to enjoy the book. Not a problem in this case. I just would have loved more length to get to know those characters a little bit more.
Overall Evaluation: 94/100
I read a lot of novellas and short romance fiction these days, and I review more than I can count. This is the first sports romance novella I've ever really enjoyed. (The first one written by an author who appears to actually know something about the sport they've chosen to write about, which I really appreciated.) I loved this book, and I think that a wide range of people will like this. But if you like hockey players, or sports in general, and you don't mind some explicit sex, you need to go buy this book right now. It is absolutely fantastic. I know that Kerri Nelson is planning some foodie romances, which I can't wait to review on my foodie blogs, but I really hope she writes some more sports romances, as well. They are NEEDED!