The Fictional Hockey League

Critiquing hockey romance novels, of which there are many. Overthinking it is the point.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Play the Man: Post 10

Chapter Five: Return from Edmonton

The team’s plane had landed at O’Hare on time, and the boys were being shuttled back to the arena to be reunited with their families. It didn’t make a lot of sense to Jenna that it worked that way, but she concluded that it meant the players didn’t have to worry about parking at the airport (35).

This is quite possibly true. However, I know it is not, in fact, the case for the Coyotes who fly in and out of a private airport (not Phoenix SkyHarbor) and park their cars at the private lot. (Fans met them at the airport after an important game. A lot of the players had carpooled together, but there was no bus.)

Nick gets off the bus first. The text isn’t sure what he’s doing, though since at the beginning of one paragraph he “didn’t bother to look around” because he knows he isn’t being met by anyone and at the end of that paragraph he “scanned the crowed” looking for Jenna (35). I suspect that the narrative starts this way in order to make us feel sorry for Nick, although he does not feel sorry for himself, but to also hint at the feelings and connection that Nick has for Jenna.

By the end of Nick’s scene here in the parking lot, that hint blossoms. Jenna complains that Ryan still won’t set a date with her for the wedding, and off-handedly tells Nick, “I wish Ryan were more like you. Marrying you would be easy” (37 emphasis original). This comment is enough to send Nick into a dream world where Jenna is his fiancée, waiting for him after roadtrips and going home with him, having a home with her.

It sounded… wonderful. Suddenly, he wanted that. He wanted her (37 emphasis original).

He lets himself enjoy the moment for only a moment, in that he considers how similar they are and why they get along so well. For a while in this book, I feared that Nick’s job would be to make Ryan realize what he’s messing up with Jenna. However, since Nick is actually thinking about her as a person, as someone with whom he gets along with because of “their personalities, their senses of humor, their mannerisms… they truly enjoyed each other’s company” (37), I’m hoping that he really is the hero. (If Ryan is actually the hero? I will be an angry, angry critic.)

By a page later, Nick has recalled all the reasons he cannot crush on Jenna—that she’s the fiancée of the captain, crushing on a teammate’s girlfriend is inappropriate, and that he, Nick, also has to set a good example for the team since he’s an alternate captain. Still, this doesn’t keep Nick from thinking negatively as Ryan gets off the bus and proceeds to continue to push off talking about setting the wedding date.

The scene switches to Ryan and Jenna, where she drives him home and tries to get him to talk about setting a date but all he wants is sex and sleep (in that order). She finally plays the “Do you want to marry me, really?” card and he reassures her and even sets a date for June.

Jenna smiled. “You mean it this time?”
“Absolutely,” he said, happy to see her elated expression. This was all it took to make her happy?

I’m not sure I can articulate precisely what pisses me off about this line. Like, he’s deigning to do something for her and it’s okay because it’s such an easy thing. It’s patronizing and annoying and I’m ready for Ryan to just stay in the penalty box, whether there’s a game going on or not.

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