This book is about a baker and a hockey coach, a copy of my favorite things in stories so I was excited about this one. It follows our two main characters, Ben Daniels and Adam Bernard, both Jewish.
Ben runs a Jewish kosher-style bakery in Boston, and he’s just barely getting by. Three years ago, he was a champion speed skater, and Olympic hopeful before a horrible accident on the ice put an end to his dream. Adam coaches a teen hockey league in Montreal. Once a professional hockey player, he also had given up on his dream of playing in the NHL to take care of his ailing father, a retired Rabbi.
When Adam is invited to a prestigious tournament in Boston, which happens to take place during the week of Hanukkah, he accepts, even though he’s hesitant to leave his father alone for the holiday. But he doesn’t want to disappoint his young player. So when Adam and his team pay a visit to Ben’s bakery, the attraction to the two men is instantaneous, and the two embark on a week-long fling. The more Adam hangs out with Ben and gets to know the man, the more he wants to stay in Boston with Ben.
When Ben receives a coaching job offer from the NHL to coach a team right there in Boston, Ben begins to wonder whether it is feasible to start planning a future with Ben. But we learn, Adam has some religious prejudices that could destroy their relationship before it even gets started.
The two main characters had some great chemistry between them that was damped by the continuous spats surrounding differing views of “what it means to be Jewish, with the disagreements ending ultimately with Ben telling Adam to get out of his bakery or apartment. In this regard, I found Ben to be unnecessarily judgmental and kind of a jerk, though he always did come around the next day. But it seems that Adam went out of his way to start disagreements with Ben, which resulted in an eye-roll from me more than a couple of times, especially given that they’d only known each other for a couple of days.
There’s are actually a couple of points where it seems they just are not going to be able to conquer their differences. But each misunderstanding is resolved quickly.
So in this way, religion was a huge theme in this book; more specifically, the way one does or should exercise one’s faith. I found the discussion about the role of religion in one’s life, the complexities of faith, the manner in which people exercise their religion as well as religious belief vs. cultural influence, all of which I did find fascinating.
But for people who are somewhat religion adverse, they might find it a tad off-putting.
The highlights of this story for me were Adam’s junior hockey players. They were so much fun and had me giggling more than a couple of times. They had such delightful personalities, and the banter between them and their coach was priceless, all of which really added an extra enjoyable element to the story.
Though their relationship had a few ups and downs, complete with angst, spats, judgments, and differences of opinion, this ultimately ended up being a sweet and heartwarming holiday romance, with a few “matchmakers” in the story pushing our guys together.