The Instigator by Stephanie Julian (Redtails Hockey #4)
Released: February 16, 2018
Reviewed by Mandi
Derek Flaherty is the instigator in this book. Both on the ice and in his personal life. He plays for the “AHL” a minor league hockey division and really hopes to make it to the big leagues eventually. He plays for the Redtails, a good team heading to the playoffs. He has a good relationship with all of his teammates – a lot of smack talk, laughing and sarcastic comments. Derek is….a lot. He never stops talking. He is very excitable. He speaks before his brain has a chance to catch up. He is like a puppy – energetic, no attention span and loud. While these attributes are presented well in the first half of the book, it also is not my type favorite hero. He was a little too immature for me – but I will say he seemed to calm down more in the second half of the book and I enjoyed him by the end.
Sophie Tsoukalos is the baby of the family, and can do no wrong in her father’s eye. She is a hard worker, tending bar in the family owned business and going to college. It’s at this bar that she meets Derek, when he comes in for drinks with some of his teammates. She is smitten by his red hair and the way he smiles at her when they make eye contact. She also notices how much he talks!
Sure, he was nice looking. Okay, more than nice looking. But damn, he talked. His mouth had been going a mile a minute to Will about something and he hadn’t shut up since. She ha no idea how he managed to breathe.
Hey, pot, meet kettle.
Still, there was something about him that kept drawing her attention.
They have mutual friends, and when he invites her to a hockey game, she goes along with some of the other women. She starts to learn about hockey and Derek – and they quickly start a relationship. Same with Derek, it took me a while to warm up to Sophie. She is a little judgmental at times to start the book but I grew to like her.
The author portrays hockey well in this one – I always get frustrated when we get a hockey romance with no actual ice time, but that is not the case here. The relationship unfolds fast and pretty easy – conflict is brought in because Derek may get called up to the majors, which means he might have to move cities. And Sophie wants to finish her degree and travel, meaning she wouldn’t be sticking around a city with Derek. But they make it work in the end.
This is book four in the series, but it read as a stand alone well.