Pucked Off by Helena Hunting
I’m NHL defenseman Lance Romero, AKA Lance “Romance."
I’m notorious for parties and excess. I have the most penalty minutes in the league. I get into the most fights. I take the most hits. I’m a player on and off the ice. I’m the one women with no inhibitions want.
Not because I like the notoriety, but because I don’t know how to be any other way.
I have secrets. Ones I shared with the wrong person, and she used them against me. Sometimes she still does. I should cut ties. But she makes it difficult, because she’s the kind of bad I deserve.
At least that’s what I believed until someone from my past gets caught up in my present. She’s all the good things in this world. She lights up my dark.
I shouldn’t want her.
But I do.
I should leave her alone.
But I won’t.
I barely remember my first kiss….it didn’t have the same impact Lance’s had on Poppy, obviously! Helena is taking us deep into the heart of the land of feels in Pucked Off. Sure, it’s funny, in parts… but this is way more serious than the others in the series. Lighthearted is not the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book. That’s not saying it’s a sob fest either. It’s complicated…
I always thought Lance was kind of a dick. He gets into his fair share of trouble and Tash has really done a fucking job on his reputation. It doesn’t help that he isn’t very open about what’s going on to his friends or do anything to set that shit straight. He just lets it go. I get why he never told anyone that Tash was abusive…and that is abuse, make no mistake. He’s way easier on her than she deserves, I don’t care what her issues are. Add that to the tragedies of his youth and he didn’t have a fucking chance of avoiding the damage Tash dishes out.
Poppy is the opposite of Lance in almost every way possible. He has trouble keeping friends, she’s loved by everyone. He was kind of an ass, she was sweet. He didn’t have family he wanted to speak of and she had her parents support and love. He couldn’t stay away from things that were bad for him and she wouldn’t settle for anything less than everything from Lance. I got why Lance was so hung up on her. She was every kindness, every soft touch and care he never knew and wanted in the worst way.
There isn’t any angsty back and forth here. You know right up front that Tash is a user and a bitch. You know Lance is fighting hard to remove himself from her toxic hold and you know that you get what you see with Poppy. It’s the struggle between what Lance feels like he deserves and what he wants to deserve that makes this so sad. Lance isn’t the asshole he appears. He’s stuck in a past he can’t shake and a present that refuses to let go.
The stress comes from watching Lance fight for what he knows will make him happy and the real possibility of losing it all. Poppy is a strong incentive for Lance to break from Tash, he just has to figure out how and Poppy has to convince Lance he’s worth more than he’s ever thought he was.