Happy Review Thursday everybody! I’m very excited to get to review this because there was a moment I thought it might not happen!
I was very very kindly gifted this in exchange for an honest review via YA Bound Book Tours and Entangled Teen Publishing. I mentioned recently in another post that I was having issues getting a copy of the books because of technically difficulties and Kate from YA Bound Book Tours was just incredible – she really went above and beyond to try and solve the issue so I could read this. As always this did not sway my opinion on the book whatsoever, as always my thoughts are all my own.
Usually I do SPOILER FREE reviews, however today I think there is an element of the book that I need to discuss so I am going to put it right at the end of the post so that if you want to you can avoid it. I also touch on it in my goodreads review so just skip that if you don’t want any kind of hints at all. The only reason I mention it at all is that it did taint my final view of the book.
Anyway, enough rambling from me, let’s jump into this review.
Title: In the Penalty Box
Author: Lynn Rush and Kelly Anne Blount
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sport
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: January 5th 2021
Pages: 400 pages
When I Read It: January 3rd 2021
Goodreads Rating: 3.81 Stars
Figure skating was supposed to be my whole world. But one unlucky injury and now I’m down…but I’m definitely not out. I just need to rehab—a boatload of rehab—and who’d have thought I could do it on the boys’ hockey team? Of course, the infuriatingly hot captain of the team seems to think I’m nothing but sequins and twirls. What’s a girl to do but put him in his place? Game on.
Hockey is my whole world. I’ve worked my tail off getting my team in a position to win the championships—hopefully in front of major college scouts, too—so what’s a guy to do when a figure skater ends up as our new goalie? Of course, the distractingly sexy skater thinks I’m nothing but a testosterone-laced competitive streak. And surely she’s only biding her time to heal, then she’s gone. Game over.
My Goodreads Review: *aka my initial thoughts, straight after (and during) reading
This was a sweet romance.
The characters were very fun to read. Unusually, I preferred the female MC to the male one which just shows how brilliant of a character Willow starts out the book as. Sadly, she doesn’t continue into the book, as at the 75% mark it dipped. I felt that Willow (who I loved for her determination and ambition) suddenly looses a lot of her character in order to fit with the development of the plot which I really disliked because it had been so refreshing to she a determined and strong willed female. I don’t want to cause spoilers but it left me cold that the female lead seems to be punished for following her dreams while other characters in the book never question following theirs.
I really enjoyed the premise of the novel however. As someone who loves ice skating and missed it over the Christmas period due to COVID, it was an amazing pick-me-up.
The early chapters are amazing. The banter, romance and character building is just impeccable!
The side plot with Caleb was interesting but didn’t feel particularly tied in with the rest of the novel. I enjoyed reading it, hut wouldn’t have missed it if it wasn’t there.
I’ve never read anything by either author before and I really quite enjoyed the writing style. There was distinction between the characters talking and thought patterns but not so different it felt forced or odd, so I’d happily read from these authors again.
Overall, a nice enjoyable romance whose ending was sweet but slightly disappointing.
Characters: I loved reading Willow. She was such an incredible female MC. She was driven and ambitious and determined to do her best with everything she put her mind to. One of her best qualities is that she didn’t let people get to her. She put them in their place and proved them wrong at every step. We NEED more female leads like this. However, she has a complete character shift towards the end of the novel (around the 85% mark) that I think trashes and goes against all of the incredible qualities she is praised for throughout the majority of the book. I don’t want to touch on it too much because it is mainly what I rant about below in the SPOILERS section but let’s just say I was extremely disappointed after loving her so much for the majority of the book.
I also really liked Brodie. He was also determined and driven but my favourite part about him was his love for his brother. It was all-consuming and just so relatable for me personally. It was a joy to read a positive relationship between siblings as a I don’t always feel that’s represented in books because it’s not typical. Again, I liked that Brodie fought against the notion that he was entitled for a lot of the book and then that seems to disappear near the conclusion of the book to fit the ending the authors wanted which is disappointing but I love him in the early chapters.
I wish there was more of Preach and Jessa in the book. I want to know more about them and their friendship/romance. Do I sense a potential sequal in the air?!?!
Characters = 7/10
Humour: This book didn’t have me in stitches but there were certainly humourous moments – when Brodie and Willow first meet being the main one to stick in my brain. Most of their banter during the training sessions were good to but it definitely looses it’s humour as the novel continues and their relationship develops and the drama increases which is a little bit of a shame because sometimes when things are tense or dramatic a bit of humour to lighten the mood can be really impactful.
Humour = 7/10
Atmosphere: I haven’t read a YA romance in quite a while as I’ve been leaning more towards NA fiction recently. But as soon as I started this I remember exactly why I loved YA. The atmosphere of the high school life was so much fun to read. Paired with the small town vibes and the ice rink and the pressure of the games was just so fun to read! I’d happily pick up a book with this kind of setting anytime!
Atmosphere = 10/10
Writing Style: I really enjoyed the writing style. I hadn’t read anything from either author before so I went in with no prior knowledge and I really liked it. It was definitely heavily based on thoughts and conversation more than description which I really liked. Kelly wrote Willow’s POV and Lynn wrote Brodie. Usually I always prefer a male POV romance but I fell in love with Willow like I mentioned above so I have to say Willow was my favourite character and writing style. Although I didn’t notice too much of a difference between the writing style of the two authors. They worked really nicely in tandem.
Writing Style = 9/10
Plot: I really loved the plot of this book! I love Ice Skating. I am not great at it but I love it. And surprisingly I had never read a book based on ice skating/ice hockey so it was a really nice and refreshing take on a sports based romance. I was really invested in the Ice Hockey matches and when they were training. It was so fun to read.
I liked Caleb as a character but I didn’t find his sub-plot particularly interesting. Or really anything going on with Brodie’s family’s drama really. I was more interested in Willow’s friend/sister’s plot and the development of that as I thought that tied in better with the main plot as well as impacting Brodie and Willow’s relationship unlike Brodie’s family issues which seemed rather separate from everything.
Plot = 8/10
Intrigue: There wasn’t too much intrigue in this book. At least for me. Usually when a book is gripping I find myself unable to put it down. With this book I could put it down, and I did. It took me three sittings to read it which is longer than usual for me. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t exciting but it wasn’t a YOU HAVE TO READ ME NOW OR YOU WILL DIE sort of book.
Intrigue = 6/10
Logic: Up until the end I thought this book was pretty logical. All the characters actions were reasoned and well thought out. Then the ending happened and just trashed all of one of the characters characterisation that had been developed in the book. I am really torn on what score to give this because it was good for so much of the book but the end really did a number on this book and my opinion on it.
Logic = 6/10
Enjoyment: I did enjoy this book. Like I said in my goodreads review, as someone who loves ice skating but missed out on it this year, I really liked reading this because the characters love for the ice was really relatable to me. However, the ending did irritate me because it had been going so well and it just brought it down for me a little.
Enjoyment = 7/10
Relationships: I really liked the relationship between Brodie and Willow. The pet names of Toe Pick and Puck Head just melted my heart. The banter in the early chapters was really fun to read and just built the perfect amount of tension. I haven’t awed about a first meeting as much as I did for theirs. It was so sweet and perfect but also funny. The lack of balance near the end of the book did bring down my estimation of them as characters because a real loving relationship shouldn’t feel as one sided as that.
Relationships = 8/10
Overall Score = 68/90 or 7.5/10
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the Authors:
Lynn Rush: New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author, Lynn Rush, is a full-time writer, wife, and trail runner living in the Sonoran Desert, despite her fear of rattle snakes. Known as #TheRunningWriter, Lynn can’t resist posting epic sunrise pictures while running in the desert with her trail sisters, even if she has to occasionally hop a scorpion. When she’s not running or writing, she’s watching movies that fuel her everlasting love of superheroes, vampires, and all things Supernatural. The books she reads usually carry the same theme, but this former college athlete loves reading sweet sports romances as well. She’s madly in love with her Ironman husband of 20+ years who is the inspiration for what true love is. You can find her on social media as @LynnRushWrites and her website is: www.lynnrush.com
Kelly Anne Blount: USA Today Bestselling author and Wattpad Star Kelly Anne Blount has more than seventy-three-thousand followers on social media. Her Wattpad stories have been read more than twenty-million times. She’s contributed to Tap, Wattpad’s new app for chat-style stories, where her work has been “tapped” more than fifty-million times. She is a writer and reviewer for SpoilerTV, which has allowed her to develop an incredible network of film and TV stars.
Two of her Wattpad works, including Captured (seventeen-million reads), have been optioned for film by Komixx Entertainment, and she is regularly invited to present seminars about social media at author events.
Stop by any of Kelly’s social-media platforms (@KellyAnneBlount) and stay tuned to this website for announcements and information about upcoming releases and events.
Kelly Anne Blount is represented by Jennifer Wills (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Nicole Resciniti (email@example.com) of The Seymour Agency
Blog Tour Schedule
Here’s the schedule so you can catch the other people on the tours thoughts on the book if you are interested!
That’s all for today’s review folks. I am still thinking of switching up the categories I review in 2021 because I am sensing a lot of overlap and repetition in some of my reviews so I think I need to make some changes but I want your opinions please. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this and I will see you guys again tomorrow.
Remember the spoiler section is just below if you are interested. ❤
So the issue I had with this book that happened at the end is that Willow gives up her dream (the one she has been working towards for YEARS!) to go and play hockey with the guys and Brodie. And while it is probable that she could really enjoy Hockey enough to play it at Uni like what happens in the book, there is no way that anyone good enough to be in the Olympics would give up that spot for anything. And the fact that Brodie expects her to is just awful! I know it is written like he’s torn about wanting her to go and not, but overall he believes she should pick him over her dream which is just toxic relationship behaviour.
It really disappointed me because I loved (and Brodie loved) that Willow was an extremely driven and determined female MC. And to just ignore all of her character building in the last few chapters to make the plot fit is just downright painful to read. When Willow asks if she can come back to Hockey she says it’s because she wants the team and she doesn’t like the way the girls treat her at the new place but what a crap excuse is that? She spends so much of the book fighting against the people who treat her like crap and underestimate her but she doesn’t let them win – but then a few months in figure skating land with people who love the same sport as her and she can’t cope with their meanness? It just contradicts all the baddassness of her rebuttals in the rest of the book. If the writer’s wanted her to choose Hockey then they should have developed her disinterest in Figure Skating more during the book and make that the reason why. But to have her still love it and have her give it up just feels fake, disappointing and a little sexist. Brodie never gives up his dream. He fights against being entitled for the majority of the book, not wanting to get things because of his father’s power or money and yet in the end he gets everything he wants – the girl, the college of his dreams, his dad sobers up, Caleb’s health improves – and he seems to treat Willow as if this is what he deserves/ entitled to which really contrasts with him in the start of the book. This contrasts so much with Willow as she gives up her dream to be there for him. It just struck me as a cop-out ending and really disappointed me because this would have been a 5 star book if not for the end.