Face Off – P.J. Trebelhorn

This was an okay read that could have been so much better. One of the best parts is the characters, both the MCs and the secondary ones, from Savannah’s two mothers to her best friend Kelly and Maddie’s family.

Savannah West is a semipro hockey player and a veterinarian. She’s « perpetually single » and is content with one-night-stands with women she meets clubbing with her teammate and best friend Kelly, an unrepentant flirt. Madison Scott is a photographer who just moved next door to Savannah and has been hired to be the official photographer for the team. After Lisa, one of Savannah’s mothers, tries to set them up, they decide to pretend to be dating so that Lisa will stop her matchmaking and Kelly won’t hit on Maddie (which is probably the less plausible motive for a fake romance I’ve read in a while).

The way Maddie and Savannah meet is a bit absurd. Who asks to take a shower at a neighbour’s they’ve never met? Maddie is going to her sister’s, I know all families aren’t close but these sisters are, and she totally could have arrived all sweaty after just moving in, it wouldn’t have been a problem.

There are really good things too. I liked that the fake romance plot was more Maddie and Savannah trying to convince themselves it was fake when they were obviously attracted to each other from the start. Later, there’s this moment where their not-fake-anymore relationship is on the verge of breaking up because of Savannah’s issues with trust, and both MCs’ backstories have been skillfully laid out so the situation makes sense and doesn’t seem forced for the sake of angst.

The blurb doesn’t mention this, but it seems Face Off is a spin-off of On the Fly, whose main characters, Court and Lana, are getting married in this book. I read it as a standalone and don’t think I missed anything vital, but I’m a bit anal about reading series in order, so I wish I’d known beforehand. Then again, I really don’t think it would have changed anything.

3 stars

Face Off @ Bold Strokes Books

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