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  • A quick and sweet yet not shallow read

    When I started reading, I was worried Amy was going to exhaust me. She’s very sweet and fun but she’s also an hyperactive extrovert. As I kept reading, I realised the author had done a wonderful job creating the characters’ voices. If I worry about Amy exhausting me, it means she’s plausible. Amy Schwarzbach, an out and proud bisexual pro hockey player, is hired as a coach for the summer by Caro Cassidy, a former Olympics medalist (and more). Professionally, the two women hit it off immediately. They also do on a more personal level, and that’s where things get tricky. First, Caro is Amy’s boss. Second, Caro isn’t exactly closeted but she’s not really out either. She keeps her private life private and, above all, as far away as possible from the rink and the safe place she’s created in Chicago for young girls who dream of playing hockey. Moreover, with Amy’s appaling track record with relationships, her best friends are worried she might be more interested in the idea of Caro Cassidy than in Caro Cassidy herself. And Caro is struggling with abandonment issues: her parents got divorced, her mother shunned her after she was outed and her girlfriend left her when she decided to retire after an injury. Now she’s content with her job, her dog Doug and her therapy sessions. The odds are not in favour of a real love affair, and when you add to all of this the fact that Amy has to go back to Boston at the end of the summer, anything serious between them seems doomed. While I was quietly enjoying watching the relationship unfold, something interesting happened: I never really noticed how or when, but I suddenly found myself much more emotionally invested in Caro and Amy’s well-being. I read distractedly at first then got really focused once they got together and the real work began. Ignore the Megan Rapinoe lookalike on the cover, I didn’t picture either woman as they are in this image. It does reflect the spirit of the book, however. Out on the Ice is a debut novel, and it’s really promising. You don’t have to care about sports to enjoy it. I really liked how Kelly Farmer dealt with Caro’s homophobic family and Amy’s attempts to fight bisexual erasure. It never felt didactic and was very coherent with the character. Another interesting aspect was how mental health plays into it all. How both women are more broken and vulnerable than they seem, the way they open up to each other, the strength the relationship brings them. If you’re looking for a quick sweet yet not shallow read, give this one a try. I received a copy from the publisher and I am voluntarily leaving a review.

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  • Quick Read with Depth

    Oh my goodness, I loved this book. Amy and Caro are both realistically imperfect and relatable, I was completely invested in their relationship. They're both so different from each other - Caro is very low key and private while Amy is outgoing and all over social media. Caro's depression and Amy's anxiety were portrayed very well, it added a nice depth to the story. It was great to see how the characters grew and were open to working on themselves and finding what makes them happy. Amy is proudly bisexual and I absolutely love how open she was and how accepting her friends and family were. One of my favourite things is her fight against bi-erasure and -phobia. I'm always looking for good bi rep and I loved Amy. I could see different parts of myself in both of them which helped me connect with them. It was a quick read but wasn't lacking depth. You don't have to know, or like, hockey to enjoy the story. I highly recommend it if you want a sweet romance.

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  • Character growth

    Both Amy and Caro had issues to work through. Amy was relatable, as a people pleaser. Caro's therapist was an important part of her support.

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  • likable characters

    First things first, I would advise going into this book for the romance with an appreciation for hockey, but not expecting much in the way of actual gameplay. I'm not sure if that's because Kelly Farmer didn't want to have some readers zoning out with too much of the sports talk or if hockey was just the means for this pair to meet. Whatever the reason, this one could've done with a bit more of the excitement gameplay could've given it. As it stands, the story was slow to start. It did start to pick up momentum about halfway through and from there the pacing was pretty good. Both Amy and Caro were likable and relatable. They felt like people we would run into at the grocery store or pass on the street, which went a long way toward getting behind this romance. Getting invested in these characters made it easy to root for them as a couple. The romance is pretty clean and relatively low angst, but there were some serious topics touched on throughout the book. For me, Out On the Ice ended up being a middle of the road read with things I liked and things I didn't care as much for. I do think Kelly Farmer shows talent and promise, and I'll be interested to see what she does next.

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