Brooklynaire, I bought another Brooklyn Bruisers' novel by Sarina Bowen. I simply had not gotten my fill of professional hockey players and romance. Rookie Move (2016) is technically the first of Bowen's Bruisers series, and was also a very fun, enjoyable read.
Leo Trevi has just been called up from his minor league team to play in the NHL for the Brooklyn Bruisers. He is excited about finally getting his chance, and he's under a lot of pressure to perform so that he can stay on the team. To make matters more complicated, of course, Leo's high school girlfriend, Georgia, is the publicist for the Bruisers and her father is the new coach of the team. Georgia's father hates Leo, didn't want him on the team in the first place, and wants him off the team as soon as possible. It's a difficult environment for a new player.
Georgia was a high school tennis phenom, and she and Leo were the kind of high school sweethearts that grow old together. But when she is raped at a tennis camp her senior year, everything changes. Leo is as supportive and understanding as a high school boy could be, but Georgia is shattered and cannot feel like herself. She breaks up with him before graduation, knowing that she cannot handle a normal relationship and not wanting to hurt him. Yet it still breaks her heart when she sees him with someone new.
Now it is six years later, and they are unexpectedly working together. Both have grown but neither one has gotten over their high school love. Georgia is at first resistant because she needs her job and wants to be seen as a professional, which does not include dating a player. And they are both tentative considering their history. But it is obvious that they still love each other, and Leo is especially loyal and determined. He accidentally calls her "the love of his life" into a hot mic at a press conference very early on in the book--something that makes Georgia's job significantly more difficult.
I liked this book almost as much as Brooklynaire. Georgia and Leo are likable and sexy. The time spent with the team was very interesting and felt realistic. I am glad that Bowen did not dwell too much on the actual rape, but focused instead on the years-long ramifications that came afterwards. The only thing I got a little tired of was Georgia's father's hatred of Leo. It felt unreasonable, and I think Georgia or Leo should have called him on it earlier. Still highly recommended--especially for hockey fans.