By: Rachel Walter
Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?
Riley Silk, captain of the Warriors Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.
Audrey Jacobs, the Warriors’ number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.
When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path.
Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?
Who keeps the puck?
**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**
“This or that?” Audrey asks.
I drum my fingers on the armrest as I think. “Music or movies?”
She glances at me sideways. “Music. Fiction or non-fiction.”
“Fiction. Dancing or singing?”
She laughs. “Dancing in the rain. Dancing on ice or falling on ice?”
“I practically danced on the ice tonight!” I snort. “I don’t fall…often.”
“I don’t mean that kind of dancing.”
“Like? A slow dance or something?” She nods. “And shall I ask Rob to be my partner?”
“Well, you could do a crazy one armed, one legged, booty shakin’ dance after a win,” she offers.
I laugh, loudly. “Where do you come up with this?” She shrugs a shoulder as she merges with interstate traffic. “In that case, fall. High heels or bikini wax?”
“You say fall because you’re a chicken. Do you even know what a bikini wax is?”
“If it’s like the name…then yes, and I’m not a chicken.”
“You are too, and I’d choose high heels. Feathers or snow?”
“You’d break your ankle! Snow. I’m still not a chicken,” I argue.
“I’d likely break both, but you are a chicken.”
“Will you stop calling me a chicken?”
The sound of her laughter centers me, I was meant to be right here with her. Just to hear her voice, her laugh…
“I will stop when you do a one armed, one legged, booty shakin’ dance on ice for me.” I hang my head. “Oh, and it has to be after a win, on home ice, and everyone has to see it.”
“Not gonna happen, Aud.”
“Same as usual, Chicken?” she asks as we pull into McDonalds drive-thru.
“Not a chicken, yes.”
“Okay.” She waits with the window cracked for an employee to take our order. A feminine voice comes through, asking what we’ll have. “One chocolate shake for the chicken and one vanilla shake for the tomboy,” she replies with a laugh.
“How many piece chicken nugget?”
Audrey laughs harder. “No chicken please, just the two shakes.”
“See, a sign you should knock the chicken shit off.”
“Not a chance, Chicken.” She clucks for good measure.
“No electricity or no plumbing,” I ask, hoping to pull her away from the teasing.
“No electricity, Chicken. One girl or all the girls?”
“One,” I say, burning a hole in the side of her head.
“Aw, a romantic chicken. I don’t think I’ve ever heard about one of those.” She tilts her face toward mine. Both of us just staring at the other, with very little space between us. My eyes fall shut and I lean back further into my seat. Way to make things awkward again, idiot. Chicken.
“Pink or purple?” I ask.
She groans, passing me the milkshakes the guy in at the window handed her. “Purple. Doer or dreamer?”
I chew on the inside of my cheek as I work the straws out of their wrappers. “Doer.” I’m too much of a dreamer. Or planner, but I don’t follow through.
About the Author
Rachel Walter is a wife and mother first and a coffee-addicted,chuck-wearing, hockey-watching, snark-spewing author second. She primarily writes Young Adult, but enjoys challenging herself in other genres, like Adult Contemporary. In 2012, Rachel began writing her first novel, True Connection, which she published in 2013. True Connection was re-released in 2014 as part of a boxed set, Pandora, which landed on USA Today’s Best Seller list. When she’s not writing or making images for her Instagram feature, #authorslog, she can be found doing almost anything in south central Pennsylvania, where she lives, to avoid washing dishes.
Social Media links
My Review: I very rarely sign up for blog tours or accept review requests anymore (sorry for the collective groan I just heard from all hopeful authors and tour companies), mostly because of time, but also because when I do find time to read, I don’t want it to be because I obligated myself, but because I really want to sit and read the book I have purchased, borrowed, whatever. However, the tour for Pucked popped up in my email and I was interested in it the first time. It popped up again, and I took the bait. Why? Well, it’s a YA and it’s a sports book, AND it’s a best friends book. I happen to like all of the above. (And see…it’s not a hopeless cause to contact me, it just has to be the right fit!)
What I Loved: I loved the dynamic between Audrey and Riley. Their friendship within the first pages was easy and fun, as long as they are alone. Riley starts off the book over-protective and there’s always a part of me that really enjoys this. However, this book has all kinds of other issues wrapped up in with it. And the heat between these characters is very, VERY well written. There were moments in this book that left me breathless due to the emotions flowing between them.
Audrey is such a strong character with a strong support group (parentals). She has a defined growth arc throughout this book where as the rules of her and Riley’s friendship start changing, she finds herself a bit lost, however she is able to work through this and readjust to where she needs to be.
So before I head to the next part of my review….I want to note here that I really loved this story. There are so many elements that I felt were well written and what was happening in Riley and Audrey’s lives really kept me invested. If I didn’t have kids and a job, this would have been an all-nighter read for me, however I cannot elaborate too much as to what these elements and parts of the story that I loved so much were because I make it a rule not to mention more information than what is listed in the blurb if I can help it…and I haven’t been given much wiggle room in this area this time!
Not So Much: The growth arc for Riley isn’t quite as well played out in my mind. I loved this story, and him especially, but I felt like the internal issues he was dealing with were sort of dealt with in the outskirts of the scenes written on the page – and then was mentioned in the description of time passing or something like that so that the readers knew that it wasn’t missed all together. I really wish to have actually seen Riley take some of the very necessary steps he needed to take instead of just being told that they happen.
Throughout the story I got the impression that Riley wasn’t as into hockey as much as he was using it as a means to an end. Then later in the book you learn a little more about how/why Riley got into hockey. I also would have liked to have seen this sport become something he loved again, rather than his ticket to college.
The Verdict: Pucked was at times a very sweet read, and at other times was a little difficult. I feel like there are so many teenagers out there who would relate to this book and it’s message. This book is very clean and YA appropriate, and I do highly recommend it!