IS THIS WORTH THE HYPE? Icebreaker Review

Summary (from the publisher): Anastasia Allen has worked her entire life for a shot at Team USA.

41j6ViuX3vLA 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?

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’ve been looking for a book to give me the same feels that Elle Kennedy’s Off Campus did back read I read the college hockey romance series in 2019. I have read Elle Kennedy’s spin-off series, Briar U, and I will probably check out her recently announced, The Campus Effect, the first book in the Campus Diaries, another Off Campus spin off.

Anyways, I thought that Hannah Grace’s social media hit, Icebreaker, would satisfy that book craving. I had seen Icebreaker all over Instagram for a few months and especially even more so when it was traditionally published by Atria in February. This romance follows top college athletes, Anastasia and Nathan, at the fictional Maple Hills University. Anastasia is a figure skater  and senior Nathan is a hockey star headed for the NHL post graduation. The two never run into each other’s circles, until a prank gone wrong forces them to share ice time.

My library has gotten better about stocking indie titles and romance titles in general lately, given the spike in popularity over the past year, but they only had one e-copy available through Libby that was at least a six week hold (sidenote that my Libby holds usually come in early, but this was seriously a title I had the wait nearly the whole hold period for). I was in Barnes & Noble while running errands one day (because where else would I end up?), and I debated on picking up a physical copy. I put up a quick Instagram poll and it was a mixed bag of to buy or not to buy. I ultimately didn’t buy it because there’s some upcoming releases I’d rather put my money towards and I’m kind’ve glad I did because Icebreaker wasn’t a home run for me. 

I feel like I usually fly through books when reading on my Kindle, but Icebreaker definitely dragged a bit and I’ve read some similar reviews suggesting that the book could’ve been shorter. The novel takes about 40% through for Nathan and Anastasia to work as figure skater partners, as promised in the book’s official synopsis, but I also felt the book’s epilogue (granted was in the future) was so rushed?!

I really liked the story behind Icebreaker, but there were way too many elements going on. To somewhat summarize, you have Anastasia and Nathan’s romance and their shift from “enemies” to lovers (the book is told from both of their point of views), so many side characters, Anastasia’s terrible paired skating partner & the pranks that basically puts Nathan on suspension as captain, and complicated friendship and family dynamics. There’s also some heavier themes surrounding therapy and mental health, as well as disordered eating that at times felt casually thrown out that I feel like needed more development. 

The dynamic between Anastasia and her skating partner, Aaron, was so, so complicated, and I know it’s a story of self-growth, but how did she not see how much of a controlling jerk he was??? Blame it on the sports fan in me, but I wanted more of the sports side of the story too. I think we definitely got more of the hockey, but I wanted more about Anastasia as a figure skater. Her passion for the sport just didn’t come across. 

There were some elements that I enjoyed about this book, especially the friendships and overall college world, being that I still devoured it over the course of one weekend. but it really came down to the execution of everything for me. You all know that I love my romance books (although I definitely leans towards the contemporary romance) and there are times where all I want is a good romance. However, there were moments where Nathan and Anastasia’s relationship development and declarations of love leaned towards cringe and some eye rolls. In addition, granted, Elle Kennedy’s Off Campus world books aren’t closed doors by any measure, but Icebreaker definitely hits the top of the spice rating with all the romance scenes ( again, obviously expected in a romance, but I feel like it took away from the story/relationship development at times?).  On a different note, while I liked the book’s side characters, especially the guys on the hockey team (this definitely gave me The Deal vibes I wanted), I though they were a tad too close to Anastasia, especially Henry (sorry but their relationship did not feel like a brother/sister-like friendship..)

Overall, I liked the plot & premise throughout Icebreaker, but the storytelling style just didn’t click for me. There is a companion novel, Wildfire, set for release this fall following one of the side characters we don’t spend too much time with, Russ, but unsure if I’ll pick this one up.

Have you read Icebreaker? What are your thoughts? Share in the comments! 

3 thoughts on “IS THIS WORTH THE HYPE? Icebreaker Review

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