Chapter 9: The Inevitable Skating Scene
I know this is only the first book I’ve critiqued for the Fictional Hockey League, but I have to believe this kind of scene, wherein the hockey player teaches the heroine to ice skate, is going to be pretty common moving forward. (I’ve read one other of these. I’ve not critiqued it here because it was a trio of novellas in one Harlequin—perhaps I will in the future—but it does, in fact, include one of these scenes, too.) I guess you, dear reader, will need to keep revisiting the Fictional Hockey League Blog to find out what percentage of hockey romance novels do, in fact, include this kind of scene.
At any rate, Hayden laughs when she see that the place where she’ll be able to clear her thoughts turns out to the practice arena. The night guard is apparently surprised to see Brody, but lets them in and even finds a pair of boys’ skates for Hayden to wear.
Remember, they’re still wearing their evening clothes—Hayden in her slinky silver dress and Brody in his tuxedo. He helps her into her skates and she complains that they’re too tight.
“It belongs to a twelve-year-old boy. No figure skates here, so you’ll have to make do” (102).
Couple of points. How does he know it belongs to a 12 year old? Second, note that this is very clearly a hockey skate, it'll be important later. Third, too tight skates suuuuuuuuck. I used too tight skates for the first few times I was in hockey skates and it was awful. Within minutes, my feet were in agony. (Granted, the skates I used for the next year or so of hockey were actually a half size too big and also hurt my feet a great deal. I guess what I’m saying is that for even a tiny bit of skating, having properly sized skates is incredibly important. When I finally got a pair that fit, I was in love. My coach even said I wasn’t to wear them to bed, no matter how much I liked them, because it would ruin my sheets.)
He stood, took two steps forward and unlatched the wooden gate that ringed the ice (102).
I find this odd. There may be wood vaguely involved in the boards and gates surrounding a sheet of ice, but not enough to call it a “wooden gate.” Besides, that sounds like something you’d find in a picket fence. The boards, gate included, are made of steel or aluminum framing surrounded by fiberglass (and of course the “glass” that isn’t actually glass above it.)
Brody promises that he won’t let Hayden fall and skates with her.
Every few feet the tips of her skates would dig into the ice and she’d lurch forward (103).
If you’ve never worn hockey skates, they differ greatly from figure skates in that there is no toepick in the front and the blades are curved, with only a tiny bit of blade touching the ice at any given time. So yes, it’s certainly possible to lurch forward in them if you aren’t used to them because if you lean forward a bit, you’ll be off balance. (The way the curve of the blades work, you’re already leaning a bit forward.) However, without a toe pick, there’s no way to dig into the ice without turning your ankle so that the edge of the blade bites into the ice. In other words there’s nothing on the tip of the skate to dig into the ice. There’s just not. This is basically the opposite of the “Toepick” scene from The Cutting Edge.
They only skate for about 20 minutes before Hayden is in pain, and that I can totally believe. No matter how in shape you are, skating uses different muscles than you use in everyday life. However, it’s her butt that’s hurting, and that seems odd to me. Her skates are too small, so her feet should be killing her. Not to mention, when you’re first learning to skate, you have a tendency to curl your toes inside the boot—it’s instinct; you’re trying to grip onto the ice. And I could see her calves or knees hurting from the bend you need to properly glide. But butt? Not unless she fell, which we know she didn’t do because Brody promised he wouldn’t let her.
He offers to rub her butt to ease the pain, and he also apologizes for the way he had acted at her penthouse. Despite his unasked for assurances that he wants to keep spending time with her, Hayden suddenly gets insecure and asks why he’d want her and not some supermodel, so Brody spends two pages telling her how pretty she is. Finally, they kiss and it leads to him giving her yet another orgasm as they sit there on the bleachers in the empty ice rink.