~ Audiobook Review: Icebreaker (Maple Hills #1) ~

Published: August 23, 2022

Author: Hannah Grace

Narrators: Elizabeth Louise & Tim Paige

Audiobook Length: 13 hours 23 minutes

Anastasia Allen has worked her entire life for a shot at Team USA.

A competitive figure skater since she was five years old, a full college scholarship thanks to her place on the Maple Hills skating team, and a schedule that would make even the most driven person weep, Stassie comes to win.

No exceptions.

Nathan Hawkins has never had a problem he couldn’t solve. As captain of the Maple Hills Titans, he knows the responsibility of keeping the hockey team on the ice rests on his shoulders.

When a misunderstanding results in the two teams sharing a rink, and Anastasia’s partner gets hurt in the aftermath, Nate finds himself swapping his stick for tights, and one scary coach for an even scarier one.

The pair find themselves stuck together in more ways than one, but it’s fine, because Anastasia doesn’t even like hockey players…right?

Icebreaker (#1)
Wildfire (#2)

Icebreaker is the first novel in the Maple Hills series that follows different characters at University of California, Maple Hills. As this is the introduction novel, this meant that I expected a lot of characters as first novels in these types of series typically set up the following novels. Though this was expected, I prefer it to be a little more subtle and not seem so forced. In this story, Nate Hawkins is a member of the hockey team while Anastasia Allen is a figure skater. Due to events, the two end up sharing the ice together resulting in Anastasia’s partner, Aaron getting injured. This leaves Nate to fill-in as her partner, which forces the two to spend time together. The general plot then gets expanded into multiple subplots as there is a lot going on which each character and their respective side groups. For me, the main focus should have been the two working together as this was promised in the synopsis, but it seemed such a minor element in the actual novel.

Anastasia’s life is all about making it to the Olympics with Aaron, who is more than determined to make this happen. Aaron is very controlling over Anastasia as he wants to keep their plan on track. His character, though, is never clear as this was my interpretation of why he was a certain way, but it is never made clear if there were other factors, too. My guess is there will be a novel showing some sort of redemption for him as a main character, but he just felt very incomplete. Then, there was her friends with benefits, Ryan, who eventually dates her best friend, Liv. This part was also confusing and felt incomplete as Ryan just seemed to appear when it was convenient, and Anastasia just kept claiming that her and Ryan and her and Liv were two sets of best friends.

As for Anastasia’s character, I am not quite sure the writing properly expressed her thoughts on therapy. The way it is written is she puts down those that have not tried it and she believes that she is all-knowing in a way even though evidence shows she is still making mistakes. There are a lot of things she is going through, so it seemed strange none of this was discussed in her therapy sessions. I am thrilled that therapy and mental health was included in the story, but the execution just never got there for me. The same goes with the romance as I did not enjoy how the two got together nor how Anastasia treated Aaron a lot of the time. I can see the concept and chemistry, but there was a lot missing to make it feel believable. The ending/epilogue also included something that was alluded to throughout the story yet does not match what you would expect. For me, it needed some build up as it just comes out of nowhere for a certain character. Overall, this was a great concept but it tried to do too much and did not take the time to execute the details.

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