The Epitome of Mixed Feelings: Off the Ice by Julie Cross

The Epitome of Mixed Feelings: Off the Ice by Julie CrossOff the Ice (Juniper Falls, #1)
by Julie Cross
Release Date: February 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Format: eARC
Pages: 320
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three-stars

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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Julie Cross turned me into a fan of her books with her baseball YA, Whatever Life Throws At You. It was a refreshing and totally made me fall in love with her writing. When I saw the announcement for Off the Ice, I was very excited because it was another sports romance, this time hockey, and I was sure it would be a hit. While I loved the writing, and parts of the romance, I thought there was too much going on in the story, which left me feeling disconnected as a whole.

Claire and Tate were very likeable characters and their honesty and genuineness immediately made me like them. They are both dealing with a lot of personal issues, and it’s sort of heartbreaking to watch two people so young dealing with so much in their lives. I wholeheartedly sympathized with them, but part of me felt like their backstories were too much, like the author tried to cram as much as possible – there’s abuse, sick parents, mounting pressure, asshole teammates and more. Ultimately, that led to the book not being as strong as it could have been. I also sometimes struggled to differentiate between Claire and Tate’s voices. All the chapters have headers, but whenever I’d skip them, I had to go back and check who it was.

The romance between Claire and Tate worked for me for the most part. They had great chemistry, and their maturity levels helped them click well emotionally. I liked that they were a couple that was comfortable talking with each other. There was so much potential between them though and I didn’t feel like we got to see them together as much as I would have liked. One thing is for sure, Julie Cross knows her way around a steamy kissing scene and she is definitely talented at writing solid romances. I also liked some of the relationships that Tate had with his friends and teammates. Hockey was definitely a part of this book, but again, I would have liked more focus on it than on some of the angstier storylines.

Off the Ice wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was hoping for more romance and more hockey, and less of the other side stories. I’m still going to read the next book in the series, but now I know what to expect so hopefully it will be more enjoyable.

Have you read any books by Julie Cross? What are some of your favorite sports romances?
Let me know in the comments below!

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Nick
  • Expectations are everything, Nick. I’m sorry you didn’t love this as much as you thought you would. But happy that the characters worked for you, and that the story was good as well.
    Great review 🙂
    have a wonderful weekend and happy reading.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

  • Angel @Angel Reads

    My review for this one is coming out this week. But, I think I liked it less than you. Most of the book didn’t really work for me and I was expecting so much more. Thanks for the review!

  • I hate when books try to cram too much into it. Also it is hard when you can’t distinguish the characters voices. Sorry you didn’t like this more. Great review!

  • Theoretically this looks adorable! For some reason, I thought this book and the baseball one were NA books. But I think all of the “tough issues” in the backstory of the characters would probably turn me off. I’m already not a fan of YA contemporary so this wouldn’t be the best for me. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one more – though I’m glad you enjoyed certain aspects of the book so it wasn’t all bad!

    Wonderful review, Nick! Have a great weekend. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  • I don’t like it when it feels like the author tried to cram too much into one book, drive me nuts I think it totally kills stuff for me. I think this is a reason I don’t read too much sports romance, I am a little wary of them. I love hockey, but I don’t know if I would love a hockey romance, you know?

  • This sounds exhausting, Nick. I love sports romance as well (football and hockey, particularly), but it sounds like I’m going to encounter the same issues that you have.

  • Hmm, I have this book on my review pile but I haven’t gotten around to it. I’m a bit bummed that you didn’t love it like you did Whatever Life Throws at You (I liked that one, too) but I’ll still see if it works for me. Thanks for the review, Nick!

  • While Whatever Life Throws at
    You wasn’t a total winner for me, I still enjoyed it. Sorry to hear you’ve
    found the characters’ backstories too much. Unfortunately I often see this
    fault in YA and NA books. Instead of focusing on the main topic, authors try to
    put many subplots and issues in one book. It usually ruins a story with great
    potential. I don’t think I would be picking up this book. I love sports romances,
    but I think I prefer NA ones.

  • oh this one sounds like a great romance…I like that these two just click right for each other and both as individuals sound very likable.

  • I haven’t read Whatever Life Throws at You yet but I have read Third Degree by Cross and really enjoyed it. Off the Ice had a rocky start for me. I felt like Cross introduced things without a lot of explanation and there were a few details that just had me confused. And there were a lot of characters/names to keep up with. But the second half felt much stronger and I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. I really got invested in Claire and Tate. Tate’s story (the pressure from his dad and coach) made my heart hurt for him. I wouldn’t say this was an unforgettable story, but I did enjoy it and will continue with the series. (I so want Leo’s story. 🙂

  • I absolutely adored Whatever Life Throws at You and have been anticipating Off the Ice ever since. It’s a shame that this book didn’t have the same impact. I can definitely see how some backstories and issues can be too much but I’m glad that the romance still worked.

  • So, I have this book. I don’t think it is a “Shannon” book. I just don’t know, I might have been on board with straight up hockey romance? But idk…. I wish SHE played hockey too. Why is it always the dude who plays a sport? (Small gripe haha) I have never read a Julie Cross book, so I am not sure I should start with this one. One sports romance (well, I guess two!) I liked were Play On and Game On by Michelle Smith! Great review, Nick!