Willow 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. Brodie 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.
In the Penalty BoxFeatured
Brodie is a star hockey player, who spends a lot of his time taking care of his younger brother after his mother died and his dad's alcoholism has gotten out of control. He loves being out on the ice. When he and his team see Willow stop a runaway puck with flair, they know she's their answer to their injured goalie. When she joins the team and proves her natural talent for goal-keeping, Brodie can't help but notice all the other ways he wants her in his life - but he knows there's a time limit on her stay in town.
What I loved: This was a slow-building romance, and I loved the way Willow and Brodie came together. There are also some interesting themes about being a part of a team and sexism faced in traditionally male sports that added to the book. With the outside drama of what is going on in each of their families, this was an interesting read. The romance is definitely the strongest part of the book, and I loved watching this couple slowly come together and get to know each other on a deeper level. I also really enjoyed the inclusion of some text conversations sprinkled throughout that added some fun and extra connections. I also appreciated the dilemmas towards the end that they face as characters and as a couple and how they were resolved.
What left me wanting more: As a really small point, the beginning of the book is pretty slow as they figure out hockey and then their relationship, and there's a side romance for Willow with another character that felt awkward and out of place. These were minor points for me, as I really liked how it all came together in the end.
Final verdict: A cute hockey romance, IN THE PENALTY BOX is a great read with a solid relationship, great friends, and overcoming obstacles. Highly recommend for people who enjoy YA contemporary romance, particularly sports-themed romances.