Title: Going for the Goal
Author: Sara Rider
Series: The Perfect Play #3
Publisher: Pocket Star
Release Date: 02-13-2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Page Count: 336
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Sara Rider returns with the third book in the Perfect Play series—a fast-paced, icy hot romance featuring a sports agent fighting an attraction to the NHL’s bad boy…and his ability to melt her heart.
In this perfect book for romance and sports fans, professional sports agent Jillian Nichols knows how to play the game to get what she wants. But admitting to what she needs has always been a challenge. Will she ever let her guard down long enough to let someone in? Or will the bad boy hockey player Nick “the Punisher” Salinger have to fight harder than ever for a chance to win her heart?
A fresh spin on a hockey romance
I’ve been meaning to try this series for a while but never got around to it. Once the featured sport was hockey, I couldn’t put it off any longer. This can certainly be read as a standalone. Characters from the past two books appear as secondary characters, but each book features a new couple and I never felt lost or like I missed a big piece of the history. The writing was solid and the pacing brisk but thorough. I was engaged throughout the book, and found the couple and their romance really enjoyable.
I read a lot of sports romances, especially hockey-centric ones, so it’s always nice when an author takes a bit of a different angle. In Going for the Goal, the heroine is a female sports agent trying to create a name for herself in a man’s world and have her own company thrive while maintaining an ethical standard. I liked both the hero and heroine. They’re both brusque in many ways and challenge each other a lot. It made for some good banter and fast-paced dialogue. I always like when the heroine is a strong professional who can hold her own, and that’s exactly who Jillian is. I was even more pleased that it was the hero falling harder and pursuing the relationship in this romance. Not only did it fit with Jillian’s personality, but it made for a more interesting read. The brooding hero with the heart of gold tripped me up at first. In my opinion, that characteristic is overdone and feels like a silly cliché. However, I thought the author balanced Nick’s sweetness with a nice intensity. It never felt disingenuous and there was a sufficient history which provided insight into why he had those contrasting personality traits.
Nick and Jillian’s romance was both sweet and fiery. I liked the concept of a missed connection resurfacing. I also appreciated that the author let time pass over the course of the book. The jumps in time flowed cleanly, making the timeline believable and giving depth to the sports/professional aspects of the plot. I did wish there was more focus on the relationship and chemistry building between the two, but the connection felt solid and not solely fueled by lust. The conflicts facing the characters and couple were unique and kept me invested in their story. There were a few times I started to worry things were becoming too predictable or cookie cutter, but the author surprised me and took the plot in a different direction. Although the hockey specifics weren’t exceedingly thorough, there were enough details to keep me- an avid hockey fan- satisfied. I really liked the sports agent aspect, especially the behind the scenes strategizing Jillian did for her clients. Not only did we get to see Jillian in her environment, but it also kept things really interesting on the romance and personal levels.
Going for the Goal was a good hockey book with a sweet, but smart romance. The characters were well developed and likable, the pacing perfect, and there were enough surprises keeping things fresh. I’ll definitely be going back and reading the other two books from this series and following the author’s future works.