The Fictional Hockey League

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Because I am incredibly lucky and Ms ForgetGutenberg is actually IN MY HOUSE and sitting on my couch, I just spent the last hour looking up potential books for the Fictional Hockey League and dramatically reading the the blurbs at FG.

I have discovered a book that is clearly brilliant. So brilliant that I was literally speechless and couldn't make words-- not even to read out loud-- for a moment. FG took my phone away from me to prove to herself that I wasn't making this stuff up...

Taken by the Weremoose

Rescued from a car accident by a moose on the loose, Jennifer's surprised her rescuer isn't an ordinary animal but a weremoose.
Cursed for the greatest of Canadian sins (besides hating hockey), Brandon was forced to remain a moose until he learned to be polite. Now able to switch to his human form after decades of celibacy, he is ready to make up for lost time.

After seeing the rugged muscled lumberjack, Jennifer is eager to show appreciation to her weremoose rescuer. Anything else would be impolite and that's not very Canadian.

I don't think there's actually much hockey in this short, but I miiiiight need to read it all the same...

Friday, May 22, 2015


So, the replacement part I need is on a slow boat from China. I'm not even kidding-- estimated arrival? Sometime between the first and twentieth of June. Meanwhile, I have my laptop, so that's good, but it's incredibly irritating to type on. Therefore, the FHL hiatus remains.

That said, it's not terrible timing, for me at least. I will have houseguests for the next week, so I had planned on taking a break from writing (although I had also planned to write enough posts beforehand that there'd be no interruption.)

Suffice it to say, I'll be back as soon as I can. We need to find out what happens to Grace "Dog-Stealer & Car Destroyer" Some Last Name and Zack "Hot Legs with a Broken Knee" Hoolihan!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Kwit (Except Not Really)

Perhaps it's a sign, that evil snarky reviews of hockey romance novels shouldn't prevail. I WILL PREVAIL, HOWEVER. Just... not today.

Yeah, another hiatus. I broke my laptop's keyboard, and the town in which I live offers no quick places to get it fixed. (How am I typing this? Very carefully and with much irritation and gnashing of teeth and expletives.)

I'll return to you, FHL, as soon as I can. (Not to mention, me without a laptop? Pray for me...)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Knock Me for a Loop: Post 5

Row 4: With Friends Like These…

(Posts for the foreseeable future may be a bit brief and slapdash. Proofreading? Revision? What are those!? Sincere apologies—it’s been a heck of a few months and the Commissioner is digging her way out of them.)

The text chooses not to answer the All Important Question of whether or not Grace went to the hospital to see Zack, instead jumping to one month later. Zack is at home, using a wheelchair, and moping. He considers his giant television, which he bought in order to cover up a hole left by Grace’s whirlwind of destruction* and the fact that he misses his dog (whose name was apparently originally Bruiser.)

*Apparently, the hole in the wall was left by Grace throwing a hockey trophy through it.

He’d come home to find the ass end hanging in the air like the minuscule hockey player had gotten stuck during some botched escape attempt (51).

I include this quote as an example of the author just trying too damn hard. Because I read that and assume that it’s supposed to be funny, but all I can think about is how a trophy is highly unlikely to stick that way into a wall, and even if it did, it’s not the hockey player’s ass that you’d really notice since the rest of the trophy, which is much larger, would have to be hanging down below it. It just makes no sense.

Whatever. So, in the past month, Zack has been knitting, but now when there’s a knock at the door he quickly shoves his current project (blankets for the local VA hospital) between the couch cushions because “[k]nitting was a private hobby” (52).

If the media found out, it would be a public relations nightmare. His fellow Rockets would rib him endlessly, call him a pussy, a pansy, a eunuch, and worse. His fans would probably do the same, as well as losing respect for him and going so far as booing him when he skated onto the ice (52).

Remember how in Her Man Advantage Axel (the hero) was so afraid people might find out about his background as a member of a Helsinki biker gang and also fear it would lose him endorsements and such? And my point was that that’s so incredibly spinnable—look where this athlete came from, isn’t it amazing? I kind of feel like this is the polar opposite (knitting instead of biker gang-ing) but with the same general likely outcome, which is to say generally positive in the media. It’d be a one-day fluff piece during a slow news week for his team and maybe end up as a piece of trivia on the jumbotron during a game. (Like when Paul Bissonnette had his Lulumonunderwear stolen from the practice rink’s locker room.)

I mean, I can’t speak for other hockey players and how they might call Zack “a eunuch, and worse” (although honestly I don’t think ‘eunuch’ is the first, or even third, insult that comes to most people’s minds these days) because I suppose they might… but given how much time is spent talking about the tight knit spirit necessary in the locker room, I don’t think it’s necessarily a given.

Plus, knitting is having a resurgence, and while it is absolutely still female dominated, there are well-known male knitters, including Russell Crowe.

And while I don’t know if any current NHLers who knit, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some.

(Actually, what came to mind was Zenon Konopka and his pet rabbit, Hoppy, for whom he has jerseys made for each team that Konopka plays on. Do you think he gets called a eunuch because he has an effeminate seeming pet?) 

Would YOU call this man a eunuch?
In the time it takes for whoever is at the door to get to his living room, Zack thinks about the game in which he got injured. I’ll spare you the details—partly because I’m writing this at 2am—but he starts by thinking it was his fault because he’d been distracted in the six months since Grace left him and then three paragraphs later he thinks about how amazing he’d been playing that game, “blocking shot after shot” until “something had just gone … wrong” (53 ellipsis original.) While the text doesn’t talk about memory loss as a symptom of his concussion (which he has and which gives him headaches, even now a month on, which is definitely worrisome), I’d say that this textual suggestion (presumably unintentional by the author) of memory loss worries me… Okay, not really. Because fictional characters.

Then he thinks about his other secret hobby (still in the time it takes for his guests to get from front door to living room), which is watching soap operas. (One of said soap operas is Guiding Light, which was cancelled, according to Wikipedia, in 2009. So apparently Zack is also time traveling?)

Gage and Dylan finally get to the living room and their first question is to ask “Don’t you ever get out of this damn thing?” about the wheelchair, which seems rather insensitive since Zack still has a cast on his leg.

The friends are only there to berate Zack for sulking and for not going to physical therapy. Zack has blown off all of his appointments, in part because there were “no guarantees that he’d ever play hockey again” (56). That seems pretty reasonable. I mean, yeah, obviously Zack should be going to PT but it’s understandable how a pro athlete (or really anyone, but especially an athlete) might fall into despair and depression after a concussion and the news that he might never play again. But Gage and Dylan think that the answer is to tell him that they aren’t going to be his friends anymore until he starts to shape up. Sometimes you have to cut ties with someone who has depression for your own mental and emotional well-being, but these guys are totally full of BS if they think that doing so will actually help Zack.

And this isn’t some hinting around from these characters—it’s full on ultimatum.

“That’s it,” Gage bit out, pushing to his feet. “I’m done with this shit. Sit there and mope. Feel sorry for yourself. Crawl into a hole and hide from life. Whatever” (57).

And then a bit later, after Gage has actually “stomped off”, Dylan agrees.

“And I think Gage may be right—until you get your head on straight, figure out whether you want your life back or you want to sit here feeling sorry for yourself… I don’t think we can come around anymore. You really are on your own”

Clearly Gage and Dylan are not exactly the stick-by-you thick-and-thin help-a-friend-when-he’s-down types.  What jerks, frankly.

In addition, why are Gage and Dylan the only ones coming by? Dylan is a reporter and Gage is… I have no idea (if I knew, I’ve already forgotten.) Where are the teammates? For that matter, wouldn’t you think that the NHL would have people coming by to check on Zack? People to badger him into going to his doctor and physical therapy appointments because I would think that would be, essentially, part of his damned contract? That’s just a guess on my part… and if I were writing a novel about hockey players, particularly one wherein a vast portion of the plot depended on the recovery route of a main character, I’d do some freakin’ research. 

(NOTE: I'm not ignoring comments, I promise. I'm just ... in a weird place and having gotten responding to them yet. But I LIVE for comments, so don't let this stop you from making them. Now, Blogger is apparently keeping people from commenting, which suuuuuucks, but I appreciate when you get them through.) 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Knock Me for a Loop: Post 4

Row 3: Unheroic Heroine

(Posts for the foreseeable future may be a bit brief and slapdash. Proofreading? Revision? What are those!? Sincere apologies—it’s been a heck of a few months and the Commissioner is digging her way out of them.)

Grace, our heroine, is having a “Girls’ Night Out” with Ronnie, the star of the first book in this series, only since they’re staying in at Grace’s house, I’m not sure how it’s a night out. They’re watching a movie and eating takeout, which necessitates also giving tastes of said takeout to Muffin, the Saint Bernard that Grace stole from Zack.

Considering the noxious breath and mutant salivary glands that came as part and parcel of the furry monster, it was a minor miracle she hadn’t dropped him at the nearest animal shelter within minutes of leading him out of Zack’s apartment.

She’d hated the mangy beast for years while she and Zack dated. Deemed him nothing more than a stinky, overgrown nuisance, and had often hinted that Zack should get rid of him so they could get a smaller pet… (39).

If I didn’t already dislike Grace, this passage would do it. What. The. Hell. Seriously. I know I’m an animal lover, but even so, really!? There is SO MUCH wrong with this passage. First, stealing someone’s dog? Always wrong. Second, stealing a pet to drop it off at a shelter purely to piss someone off? That’s sociopathic. I mean, unless the dog is actively aggressive, I have a hard time understanding how anyone can hate any dog, but I get that not everyone likes animals. (I don’t actually trust people who don’t like animals, but that’s my own hangup.) That’s not what’s going on here—Grace apparently wanted them to get a Pomeranian instead. She wanted to get rid of the dog they had—which essentially means KILLING said dog because most shelters are overflowing, but at BEST means uprooting a dog from its family—because she wanted something cuter and which drooled less often.

I officially hate Grace.

Last week I was reading a regency romance novel (for fun, not for nitpicking) and I started out disliking the heroine because she was shallow and petty. But it turned out that she was, in fact, neither of those things (she was acting in order to fit in with a popular crowd) and furthermore she grew throughout the novel to the point where I liked the heroine and could see why the hero fell for her (and vice versa). I so hope that Grace redeems herself similarly. But threatening to drop a dog off at the shelter after you stole it? Yeah, that’s a big uphill climb.

Granted, she kept the dog, as evidenced by my first point about having to feed said beastie tidbits of her takeout, but so what? He apparently helped “Save her sanity and mend her broken heart” post breakup (39). Yes, because pets are awesome. Except for the part where I’m not sure Grace had any sanity to keep. She did, after all, steal Zack’s dog. And throw many of his belongings out of his own apartment. And smash up his Hummer. Also, “she’d stolen his favorite hockey stick” (39) which makes me laugh. She realizes that they go through tons of those, right? And get them for free from companies that want endorsements? I mean, unless this was like a Speshul Stick that he doesn’t actually play with because it was autographed by his hero, I don’t think he’s going to mourn the loss of a hockey stick (even a goalie stick, which is what it ought to be, given that Zack is a goalie and the positions are not interchangeable.)

There’s some chatter about how Muffin (which was not the dog’s name when he belonged to Zack, by the way) ought not eat people food but when Grace tried to stop giving it to him, it was like “trying to tame a rabid wolverine” and the consequence was spending “three days scraping food off the ceiling” (40), a point I mention only because what the heck? How does not giving human food to a canine result in food (unspecified as to whether it was human or dog) splattered on the ceiling, and so caked on, apparently, that it took three days to remove it?

I think the author is trying to be humorous but it’s not working because it doesn’t make sense. I’ve seen this a few other places in this book so far and I’ll try to point more out as I come across them.

Then conversation moves on to Grace’s reaction to having seen Zack the previous day at the wedding. Ronnie is the voice of reason and asks what if Zack was telling the truth and Grace gets angry that she seems to be taking the ex’s side. Watch out, Ronnie! Don’t get Grace angry! She’ll steal your stuff and smash your car!!!

Ronnie, however, is smart enough (or possibly has Stockholm Syndrome) and says that “If you said the sky was green, I’d agree with you” (42) but ventures on to say that Grace and Zack were good together and it’d be a shame to destroy the relationship over a misunderstanding.

True, Ronnie, but honestly, it seems like Zack escaped from a pretty terrible fate, being married to Grace. And also, it’s been six months, which means that the relationship is pretty dead (and will have to be restarted in many ways), so if you feel strongly about this, shouldn’t you have mentioned it a long time ago? Say, before Grace destroyed a Hummer and stole a dog? (Ronnie actually explains that she’d assumed him guilty, too, and it’s only that Zack has maintained his innocence for 6 months, even with “his very closest friends”, that she’s wondering (42).)

The conversation stretches on for a while and I won’t bore you with further details. But at the end, Ronnie asks Grace “what…[her] heart is telling [here]?” and after pondering, Grace says she’d made the right decision (44). So apparently no softening on her part, although she does think about the terrible childhoods they both had. (Grace’s mother was “a B-movie Hollywood starlet… but an A-list wannabe” (45). Does anyone who is “B-list” not want to be “A-list”? And she died due to pills when Grace was 12. Zack’s terrible childhood is not detailed at this point.)

But then the movie ends and Grace switches over to television, specifically to the sports channel which is showing the Rockets’ game against … some team “suited in white and black” (47), so… the Kings?

…what she saw made her heart tumble down to her toes, hitting every rib and internal organ along the way (47).

I’ve heard of a wandering womb, but I think Grace might need medical attention for her heart condition.

“Oh my God.” The words slid past her lips on a hiss of air as the oxygen left her lungs (47).

Actually, Grace, most of what you’re exhaling is nitrogen, and only about 15% of the breath that is hissing out of you, along with the words, is oxygen. (To be fair, the nitrogen that goes in and comes out remains the same, about 78%. Even so, we breathe in about 21% oxygen and breathe out 15%, so her statement is nonsensical on multiple levels! And also, weirdly redundant with all that hissing and speaking and lungs.)

The bottle she’d just picked up slipped from her numb fingers, cracking into the edge of the table on its way to the carpeted floor, and she slowly followed it down, her knees turning to jelly (47).

The knee thing should also be seen by a medical practitioner, although it’s probably not as immediately life threatening as the “heart bouncing off of other internal organs” thing.

Also, if you’re wondering what the heck she’s reacting to, well, the text won’t divulge that for another page. Clearly, the play-by-play of Grace’s reaction (and then Ronnie’s reaction, which is to take off her hate and gloves and scarf) is far more important.

So what did happen? Well, Zack was in net, defending against the “small disk of vulcanized rubber” (47), also known as the puck, although you wouldn’t know it from this book, since the vulcanized rubber phrase has been used multiple times already and we’re fewer than 50 pages in. Zack blocked the shot, and the player who’d shot it rammed into Zack.

His back hit the metal frame of the net with what looked to be brute force before both men lurched sideways and began to fall… and were quickly covered by half a dozen other players from both teams (48).

First, the writer knows that the nets move right? That hitting it sucks, but it’ll come off the pegs so that the goalie is less likely to be injured by hitting “the metal frame”. Second, “looked to be brute force”? The phrase means force that has no finesse (such as in programming, when you try to decode something not by finding the underlying key but by throwing stuff at it to see what works.) So that’s not something that can be seen—or rather, it is but what the heck else would it be?

The text does not specify why six other players next landed atop the goalie and player. It’s not uncommon for players to go after the other team’s players who knocked into their goalie, so I’ll assume that’s what’s going on there.

But as they went down, Zack’s helmet flew off and his left leg caught on the edge of the net.

The leg held, but his body didn’t, twisting him like a Twizzler beneath the weight of a dozen players (48).

A dozen players? So now it’s a bench clearing brawl? Or the author doesn’t know how many players are supposed to be on the ice at a time? I have to say that I think the latter more likely.

I can’t explain why this whole scenario seems so unlikely. Maybe someone else can tease it apart better. (I’ve included above everything describing the incident other than the fact that Grace took the time to consider how “unaccountably grateful” Grace had always been that Zack has all of his teeth—or at least did before this event (48).)

Once everyone is pulled apart, Zack is clearly left unconscious.

…Zack…remained unnaturally still, his blue and red Rockets jersey a stark contrast to the crystalline ice beneath him (48).

First, the Rockets’ jerseys are blue and red? That’s gotta be hella confusing when playing the Rangers. Second, I’m having a really hard time accepting “crystalline” as an adjective for a sheet of hockey ice.

Ronnie calls Dylan (her significant other, the team reporter) who gets the inside scoop—although I’m really unclear as to how he gets said scoop so quickly. On the television, Grace sees the team physician checking Zack, still on the ice, after Ronnie hangs up her phone with Dylan. But Ronnie then tells her that Dylan said the following:

 “Dylan says it’s bad. Zack is unconscious, and the doctor can’t get him to respond. His head cracked the ice pretty hard. His leg is messed up, too. They’re taking him to the hospital, and Dylan is going to follow. We can meet him there, if you want” (48-49).

In other words, Dylan is a freakin’ psychic! Neat!

The rest of the chapter—two pages of it—is Grace being uncertain as to whether she wanted to go to the hospital to see Zack because there will be media. (She doesn’t decide by the end of the chapter.)