Thanks to the TV monitors affixed to cardio machines at my gym, I can watch all kinds of sports that I’m not able to at any other time (being one of the cable-free, I’m bound to the internet). On one particular night in late December, I watched men’s college football and basketball, and the final minutes of a pro Hockey game. There was a period in high school when I was pretty into watching hockey on ESPN, though I had no other connection to it. The speed and dexterity on ice, the full body contact drew me in like a moth to a flame. I participated in something called “broom hockey” on ice years later and ice skate occasionally, but that’s it.
As the on and off ice drama in Delay of Game sucked me in, I felt a new appreciation for the hard work involved in setting up and executing plays, not to mention extensive traveling and low pay for women. While I watch men’s games, I can’t but think about Eva Caruso and Niki Hartling, passionate players representing the United States and Canada, respectively, on the grand stage that is the Winter Olympics.
The two women have a deep history, one severed by youthful passions and manipulation. Niki has moved on from professional hockey, teaching at a university and raising a precocious daughter. Recently widowed, she isn’t looking for anything that will upend the delicate balance she’s achieved. However, a scandal rocks Team Canada months before the 2010 opening ceremonies in Vancouver, BC, and Niki is pulled in as a reluctant head coach. Eva, meanwhile, hasn’t hung up her skates just yet. Hungry for another chance at an Olympic medal, she relies on her competitive nature and Hall of Fame level skills carry her through injuries and the pains of life on the road. As the oldest on Team USA, Eva also shoulders some of the leadership responsibilities, helping focus her younger teammates’ drive.
Hockey and romance given equal time on the ice, making for a satisfying sports romance. As a reader, you get a good feel for the investment players make in ascending to the championship level, as well as the personal costs it exacts. Meanwhile, the complicated history between Niki and Eva, escalating stakes for Olympic glory, and the struggle Niki feels about romance after the death of her wife, adds drama on the personal and broader levels. In the midst of all this, there is added mystery of a fox in the hen houses of Team Canada and Team USA. Delay of Game sat on my TBR shelf for several months, but once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. And once you read it, you’ll be itching for some hockey action. Below you’ll find a link for the 2018 Olympic women’s hockey schedules. Opening ceremonies in PyeongChang are on February 9th. Cheers!
Women’s Hockey, Olympic schedule here.
Delay of Game by Tracey Richardson
Bella Books, 2017
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