Synopsis from Goodreads
A party girl and a clean-cut college hockey player discover that they’re not so different in this sexy, soulful Bayard Hockey novel from the bestselling author of Shut Out and the Heller Brothers series.
Ella Verran has three goals this semester: get off academic probation, repair her relationship with her friend Skylar, and take some responsibility for her life. All of which are hard enough without hot, snobby hockey player Ben Buckingham around to distract her. Ella can’t stand Ben, and she knows the feeling is mutual. But he’s best friends with Skylar’s boyfriend, so he’s always around—taunting and tempting Ella in ways she never thought possible.
As the star forward of the Bayard College hockey team, Ben has goals too, like playing well enough to land a spot on an NHL roster. Ben is perfectly poised on the ice, so why can’t he keep his cool around Ella? Her wild behavior rubs him in all the wrong ways—and a few of the right ones. But as they skate around each other, Ben learns that there’s more to Ella than her bad reputation. And when the line between love and hate starts to blur, he can’t resist crossing over and sweeping her off her feet.
We were introduced to Ella and Ben in the first book, Shut Out, being best friends with the main characters, Skylar and Jacob, so we already know quite a bit of their background information.
I have to be honest and say I didn’t connect with Ben and Ella in the same way I did with Skylar and Jacob. While I appreciated different people have different coping methods I found Ben and Ella’s attitudes quite insular, they were very self-absorbed at the beginning of Cross Check, viewing the world in the way it affected them rather than realizing that actions have repercussions for other people, not just themselves.
Both Ben and Ella have a lot more in common than they would have thought. However, both have preconceived ideas as to the other. Ella has an established party girl reputation she has come to regret following a derailment of her life and emotions following her friend, Brendan’s suicide. I liked the way in which Kelly tackled the role of slut-shaming in today’s society and the double standard playing the field has for men and women. While I liked the empowering nature of women owning their sexuality and exploring their pleasure, I still felt as if there should be some discretion to the proceedings. The reputation as an ‘easy’ and ‘party girl’ once established are hard to shed and can create a vicious cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy. while Ben is seen as the perfectly groomed, fashionista around campus. Although Ben has his own skeletons in his closet that he hides behind his chose of clothes.
While Ben and Ella believe they have no interest in each other the attraction that sizzles between them tells another story. The inevitable physical combustion takes both of them by surprise and their deeper connection even more so. I really liked the way in which they were able to bring out the best in each other; developing into the well-adjusted adults they were destined to become. I liked the inclusion of the use of therapy to help work through emotional issues and the repercussions of them within the narrative.
Cross Check concentrates on the character development of both Ella and Ben, showing them overcome the mistakes and emotional barriers of the past to fulfill their dreams in the present. I especially liked seeing the continuation of Skylar and Jacob’s story alongside that of Ben and Ella.