A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings
MELTING THE ICE is the latest entry in Jaci Burton’s long-running sports romance series and although I have only read the first Play By Play book, I had no problem picking up this one as a stand-alone. The setup for the hero and heroine combines two of my favorite tropes - best friend’s little sister and second chance at love - so I was confident going in that it would be a good read.
Carolina had always had eyes for Drew back in college, but his Big Man on Campus status combined with her shyness and inexperience kept her from making the first move. When she successfully propositions him at an off-campus graduation party after having a few too many, she experiences the first and best sex of her life. But when Drew tosses her aside the next morning without apology, Carolina chalks it up to a bad life decision and swears never to give him another chance to hurt her. Years later, her life is completely devoted to the launch of her new fashion line, and she barely has any spare time to sleep or eat, let alone moon over the guy who got away.
Drew has never forgotten his one night of bliss with Carolina and realizes his behavior afterward will make it hard for her to ever trust him again. Back then, he was young and dumb, afraid of committing to one woman when he was working toward a professional hockey career. Carolina has done her best to avoid Drew ever since then, but when her brother Gray suggests him as the perfect model for her new menswear line, she’s in no position to object. Older and wiser, Drew realizes this is his best opportunity to go after what he stupidly tossed away before, and make Carolina his for good.
What I always appreciate about Jaci Burton’s romances is how she provides just the right amount of back-story for her hero and heroine. She’s adept at showing exactly what brought them to this moment and helping readers empathize with them through all their setbacks on the way to their happy ending. Both Carolina and Drew have so many things going on in their lives that could easily derail their romance in addition to the giant obstacle of their drunken college hookup. But as they first realize that their attraction hasn’t faded, then decide to take advantage of it for as long as it might work out, we also see that there is genuine love there, and that ultimately nothing can get in the way of their happiness if it’s what they both want.
The best part of MELTING THE ICE for me was what wasn’t there. There wasn’t an evil ex-girlfriend trying to break them apart, or someone trying to steal Carolina’s designs before her big show, or a tabloid trying to use their public moments together to embarrass her father before an election. There was just the growing love between Carolina and Drew as they learned to trust each other and themselves, while the world went on around them. It wasn’t boring - the moment when Gray discovers that his best friend and baby sister are together is especially fun - but it wasn’t overwrought with angst and drama, either. That’s what made Melting the Ice another great Jaci Burton story, and reminded me that I need to go back and read the other books in the Play by Play series!
Overall: 4 stars
Sensuality level: 3.5