Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:
Juniper Falls Series
Synopsis for Off the Ice (from Goodreads):
All is fair in love and hockey…
Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.
Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.
It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.
For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.
Series: Juniper Falls
Author: Julie Cross
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Small Town
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – February 2019
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC
**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
Julie Cross is an author I’ve enjoyed in the past and really need to read more by. She just writes consistently great stories.
Having read her other YA sports romance, Whatever Life Throws at You, I knew what to expect with this series. I knew I would be getting a slow burn romance that would take a bit of a backseat to the character development…and I couldn’t wait to dive in!
What I Liked:
–It Focuses on Hockey–
It’s the Canadian in me who adores anything hockey. I’ve read a lot of adult and new adult series dealing with hockey players but not so many dealing with high schoolers. Which brings a different sort of pressure to the character’s lives as they are trying to reach that next plateau for the prospective careers.
We have a slightly different draft system here in Canada (not so much pressure on playing for a college team but more so in certain divisions) so I found that aspect to be interesting as well as this takes place in Minnesota, USA.
–Small Town Romance Vibes–
I’ve really gotten into adult small town romances in the last year or so and this one definitely gave me those vibes. I like the nature of small towns settings in stories. Everyone knows everyone and their business, but there are always these underlying secrets and feelings that always come to the surface. There are also certain expectations and almost stereotypes that people feel like they have to be boxed into. It provides a great stage for character growth to blossom on.
I also find that you get really invested in all the side characters as well. There are a few characters I would love to see full novels from going forward just from the little inklings we got here.
–The Character Growth–
Both Tate and Claire have very interesting character stories. They both have very complex situations to deal with and I liked that they each had their own things to work on. They are also such genuine characters that you really start to get behind them.
This story is more so a coming of age story than straight romance. It’s about these two finding that confidence in themselves, figuring out what they want in life and how they can break out of the molds the small town has put them in for all their lives.
What I Didn’t Like:
–Felt a Little Long in the Middle–
I knew going in that this book would take its time to reach the plot climax and that’s what happened.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy all the moments leading up. I did. The scenes between Tate and Claire were great and I like that you get all the background info about the town and all the characters.
I guess I just wanted them to work on the issues a little earlier than they did. I felt like we reiterated the same things again and again–which is fine as it did contribute positively to the romance and character growth. It just made this book seem longer than it was. The ending isn’t rushed by any means but I think I would have taken away some of that exposition to have them tease out the various issues a little more.
My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:
As I said above, I have a few characters I would love to see more from. I’m very excited for the next book though!
–December 31, 2017– Book #2: Breaking the Ice
Again, this book just has the right balance to it. I loved the slow burn romance between these two. They have this fantastic chemistry together that makes their scenes together amazing. I also loved Fletcher–new book boyfriend alert! The character development here is perfect. My only complaint is that it took a little while for the plot line to establish itself. Once it does, it makes for a great read but the first half is a little slower.
–February 27, 2019– Book #3: On Thin Ice
This was the Juniper Falls story I was waiting for the most and it did not disappoint!
I love how all the themes from the last two novels accumulated into this one and got brought to the forefront. The whole hazing plotline was fascinating and realistically on point with things happening in society right now. Sports are great for many reasons but they can become toxic when priorities shift for those with authority and I love that this book explores that.
I’m sad to say goodbye to this series but this book was the game-winning goal to this fabulous hat trick of a YA sports series.
(But I totally wouldn’t be upset if Rosie ever got her own book!)
My Rating: 4/5
Off the Ice 4/5 | Breaking the Ice 4.5/5 | On Thin Ice 5/5
This is perfect for fans of small town romance and sport romance fans. It has fantastic characters with great character growth and a sweet romance to balance it all off. Just a well-rounded series.
Read if You Like: sports romances, slow burn romance, more character focused
Avoid if You: want more romance focused stories
- Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross
- The Perfect Game by J. Sterling (The Perfect Game Trilogy #1)
- Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (Hundred Oaks Series #1)
- All Lined Up by Cora Cormack (Rusk University Series #1)
- Just Pretending by Leah and Kate Rooper (Chicago Falcons Series #3)