by Colleen Charles
“The Net” is the 6th book in the ‘Rochester Riot’ series by Colleen Charles. They are sports romances, each one featuring a member of a NHL hockey team. The books are written so they can each be read as a standalone.
Silas is almost too good to be true. He’s a handsome and talented professional hockey player, loves his family, is good to his friends, and is about the nicest human being you could ever meet. He’s jovial and a harmless flirt. Silas has been interested in Phoebe since the very first time he saw her, but she won’t even give him the time of day. In fact, she goes out of her way to continually reject and rebuff him. Phoebe is a plus-sized woman. The biggest burden in her life isn’t her weight though, it’s the emotional damage she carries from years and years of being subjected to derision, taunting, exclusion and even worse because of her size. The worst trauma by far happened when she was in college, and it was because of a handsome hockey player. When Silas flirts with her, all of her shields are up and locked firmly into place against him. Even as he repeatedly demonstrates his sincerity, she is terrified of trusting him.
I thought this book was well done, although at times it got a bit repetitive with all of the reiteration about painful cruelty and systemic negativity Phoebe has experienced because of her weight. However, the issue was so important I could understand the need to really stress the overwhelming nature of it. There are secondary characters who add a lot to the story, especially Silas’ sister Madison. Other key secondary characters in the story you’ll recognize if you’re familiar with the series already. When Phoebe takes a chance on trusting Silas, the chemistry between them is wonderful. The ending of the story is terrifically satisfying. There are some great, lighthearted moments to balance out some of the much more painful subject matter, I thought the author did a commendable job addressing a type of discrimination that society ignores too often, while still prioritizing the love story of Silas and Phoebe.