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cover62571-mediumBack in Play

Power Play #2

by Linda Aicher

For Minnesota Glaciers captain Scott Walters, skating on a bum knee—and self-medicating to keep skating on it—is all part of the game. That the painkillers he’s eating prevent him from having meaningful relationships is just one more sacrifice in a lifetime of them. He’s worked too hard to let his image be ruined by injury or dependency, so he hides the pain and fakes the rest—a girlfriend would only complicate matters.

High school teacher Rachel Fielding never needed a man in her life, but she also never intended to grow old alone. When she meets Scott while visiting her brother, she’s intrigued to find herself wanting him in her bed. For hours at a time, as often as possible. Scott is a giver, and just the memory of his attentions is enough to drive her crazy. Anything long-term is out of the question, though—the pills she finds in Scott’s house indicate he’s struggling with a lot more than growing older in a young man’s game.

When what starts out as a what-the-hell weeklong fling turns into Scott and Rachel exploring each other outside the bedroom, Rachel hesitates. But Scott asks for her support to break his addiction, and hearing him admit his secrets has her ignoring her own rules—until he breaks her heart. With the Glaciers refusing to renew his contract and his future with Rachel uncertain, Scott has some big decisions to make and a lot to prove—especially to himself.

Once again I’ve joined a series in the middle – although technically this time I actually joined two series in the middle because there are characters from Aicher’s Power Play series and her Wicked Play series 🙂 Not having any familiarity with either series I can’t be sure but I don’t think that it impacted anything at all. There were some references to things that happened with earlier stories but enough details were given that I figured things out (but not too much to bore returning readers). I love an author who understands how to make that work for everyone.

You might think that this is just another sports romance but you would be so very wrong. Back in Play is definitely a rollercoaster of emotions. We get the high of that initial attraction and lust, but Scott is hiding some pretty big secrets. My heart aches for everything he’s trying to juggle and keep hidden. It is easy to see how it spiraled so far beyond his control. Aicher details very well the complexity and depth of his addiction, how it has infiltrated so much of his life, the impact it has had on him and how so very close he is to losing it all.

Rachel does an amazing job of keeping things together when Scott starts to let it all out. She’s very strong but she does have a few hang-ups of her own that start to impact things. Throw in all of Scott’s and it’s a rough ride to a HEA. But it is a ride that is worth taking.

I realized what an amazing author Aicher is by how quickly I flew through the book, understanding where both of the main characters were coming from when things go sideways on them, and having the ending be so very satisfying. If the rest of her books are anything like this, I’m going to have a lot more reading to do soon.

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