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Literary, etc

Literary, etc is an eclectic blog where we talk & review books, films, & whatever strikes our mood.

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Delayed Penalty (Crossing the Line, #1)

Delayed Penalty (Crossing the Line, #1) - Shey Stahl Returning from an out of town game, Evan Mason, defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks, finds himself alone and wandering the streets of Chicago. Deciding to call it a night he’s waiting for a cab when he hears what sounds like an animal in pain. He ignores it until he hears a wail and pinpoints the sound coming from a dark alley. He’s uneasy because of his status, he plays for a major sports team, but he cannot ignore the sound. He finds a girl beaten and left to die and his heart breaks. Ami Sutton is new to Chicago and is hoping to start a new life after the death of her family. She enrolls in a local dance school and is settling in when the unthinkable happens to her. Ami has no memory of what happened to her and she’s just happy to put her life back together. When Evan offers to help her get her off feet she agrees and together they begin to form a friendship; however, Evan fights their growing attraction. Will Evan find the girl of his dreams or will Ami’s past continue to haunt him?Delayed Penalty is told mostly via Evan’s perspective and that’s a breath of fresh air! I admit, I enjoyed his narrative more than I did Ami’s. I think the reason being is that she couldn’t remember what happened to her and she seemed a bit closed off. It’s understandable, but I wanted more character depth to her. Although she was a victim of rape, she doesn’t let that affect her and wants to move on with her life. With Evan, what we learn about him comes from his family and we see him through their eyes as well as of his teammates. We also see that he has a deep heart and takes responsibility seriously. There’s a secondary character who stole the show and that’s Leo, captain of the Blackhawks. I adored him and he was one of the highlights of this book. We also get to meet Callie, who enjoys the game, but loves the players even more. She made me glad Ami had a friend.I freaking LOVED Delayed Penalty. The writing is engaging, although a few people have mentioned that there’s too much hockey and I have to disagree with them. A typical NHL season (not counting playoffs) is 82 games, that’s a little over 180 days these guys are training and playing the sport. Hockey is their life and it makes sense Stahl would devote a huge percentage of the book on the sport. I really appreciate she included the hockey glossary because it is a treat for veteran fans to brush up on and serves as an introduction to non-fans. I have a feeling had she not included these, many would have been upset. I do understand for some having a term and the definition at the beginning of each chapter might distract the reader, but in several instances she used that term in the chapter. I have several favorite scenes, but I particularly enjoyed the talk Ami and Evan had regarding sports. Ami had a brother who was on the verge of starting his own professional career when his life was cut short. In many ways, this brought things into perspective for Evan and what he does for a living. Of course he’s 20 years old and no one at the age thinks about death. I enjoyed reading his thoughts and his fears. I also enjoyed how Stahl often referred to the beginning of a hockey fight as a dance. Both players circling each other, giving the look, and then it begins. At one point Evan asks an opponent, “Aren’t you going to ask me to dance?” I found this interesting because Ami is a dancer and she’s in Chicago and enrolled in dance. Both of them have a career that mirror each other. The scene that is most heartbreaking for me is when Evan figures out who the rapist is. I had to take a moment to stop reading because I can’t imagine the trust that was broken and the realization of all of it. Tears running down my face when Evan tells Ami who did it and like Evan I didn’t agree with the outcome, but I won’t say anything more because I fear I’ll spoil you.If I can take a moment to address an issue brought up by some reviewers and that’s the Chicago detective who shows up in California. I understand the confusion, but at one point Evan mentions how he had Leo call the detective. Now a flight from Chicago to San Jose is about 4 hours; assuming he’s called before the start of the first period or shortly afterwards and he’s able to get on a flight quickly, that would put him in the time frame of his arrival at the hospital. There’s also the issue of the hotel / condo outcome. I took it as, they went to the hotel after the hospital incident to pick up their things and left for Chicago shortly afterwards and that’s why you get the condo reference. I understand the confusion and perhaps it is a continuity error.My favorite quotes:“It was a dance that I knew well.”“Fuck, Mase, did you let him come in your mouth, too? Because he fucked you.”I should point out, Stahl’s book takes place in 2010 and her Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup; the real Chicago Blackhawks won the cup in 2010. Even though Leo, Evan, and Remy are fictitious, a piece of me couldn’t help but picture them skating alongside Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and company. The Blackhawks will be playing the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals and when I sit to watch them play, I’ll be thinking how Evan, Leo, and company will be there too.Overall, I adored Shey Stahl’s Delayed Penalty. I cannot wait for the second book. If you’re a fan of instant love and lots of action quickly, this book may not be for you. Stahl does take her time building a story and making us care about these characters. Don’t be intimated by the amount of hockey and just enjoy a great story.This review is posted at Literary, etc.