Title: Time Out
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Publication Date: February 19, 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5
As I’ve mentioned before, if a book has Jill Shalvis’s name on it, it’s pretty much an auto-buy for me! Time Out is her latest category romance published by Harlequin Blaze, and it’s also a reunion romance of sorts, making this a win-win for me. Time Out is just under 200 pages, so it’s a short and sweet book that’s lots of fun.
Rainey Saunders is a community youth center coordinator in a town ravaged by wild fires. She’s scrambling to find coaches to help keep the town’s teens busy, but because so many houses were destroyed, many of the parents are struggling to make ends meet, making it difficult to scrounge up volunteers. When NHL coach and hometown boy made good Mark Diego shows up with several of his players to offer their services, it’s the perfect solution for Rainey and Mark. Two of Mark’s players got into a knock-down, drag out fight, and they’re assigned community service to help improve the league’s image, and since Mark’s brother runs the community center, it’s an easy way for Mark to spend time with his family while keeping an eye on his players.
Rainey’s had a thing for Mark for years, although she’s tried hard not to show it, since she managed to humiliate herself thoroughly when the two were teens. Assigning Mark to coach the teenage girls’s softball team seems like the perfect revenge and a great way to keep Mark busy and out of her hair. Mark has different ideas, though. He’s always been attracted to Rainey, and his summer at home seems like a great time to act on that attraction. He’s not into anything long term, though, and Rainey knows it. When the summer’s up and hockey seasons starts again, can these two find a way to be together?
What I love about Ms. Shalvis’s romances is that her characters always come across as real people. Rainey is the girl next door, and she’s a lot of fun, and, while Mark may be a superstar NHL coach, he’s still just the boy next door at heart. The sparks between the two of them are undeniable, even though both make desperate attempts to deny it. The secondary characters are hilarious, especially the two hockey players forced to perform community service in what they consider to be a Podunk town. However, it’s clear that they get as much out of their time there as the kids the players are coaching, which is nice.
My only criticism of the novel is that the ending is very, very abrupt. In fact, I kept trying to turn the page, thinking something was wrong with my Kindle, because I didn’t realize that was the end! It resolved both the romance between Rainey and Mark and a secondary plot line quickly and in a way that struck me as a bit too convenient. However, I suspect that the format and length of the category romance genre have much to do with this particular ending.
That said, this is definitely a keeper! The romance is sizzling, the characters are engaging, and the reading so easy that the pages just fly by. Time Out is a fun, quick escape that I highly recommend.