Top critical review
A promising read, but the execution was lacking
7 April 2019
Brenna Jensen and Jake Connelly are sworn enemies. He’s the captain of the Harvard hockey team, while she’s the daughter of Briar’s coach. Except, the two have an undeniable chemistry that she’s determined to ignore.
After Brenna’s stood up on a date, Jake steps in and insists that she stops hooking up with one of his team members since she’s a distraction to his hockey performance. This ignites further hatred on Brenna’s part for Jake, but he wants to explore the attraction, no matter how much she disregards it. When Brenna interviews for an internship at HockeyNet, an exclusive, sexist sports broadcasting network, she casually lies to her interviewer that she’s seeing Jake Connelly. Now, she’s forced to bury the hatchet and propose he pretend to be her date so she can acquire this internship. Except, Jake stipulates that for every fake date she uses him for, he gets a real one in return.
The first thing you need to know about The Risk: it’s a dramatic improvement to The Chase. I could actually stand to read from the perspectives of these characters. They weren’t irritating. The male character wasn’t constantly thinking creepily with his dick. It was the upgrade of the century.
I love Brenna’s character development. Her relationship with her father is the most admirable thing to see play out and it hurt to hear of her tragic backstory. She’s just a delightful character to follow. Not to use a cliche at this moment, but to definitely use a cliche, she’s not like other girls. I loved her confidence and uniqueness. I loved how strong she was even during tougher times. I loved how mature she was in her situation (a.k.a not breaking up with her boyfriend because he’s on a rival hockey team). I loved how she opened up to her father and was honest instead of letting their relationship simmer out. I just loved her. She was definitely the highlight of The Risk for me.
I don’t really have an opinion on Jake, but I liked that he wasn’t like the other male characters in this series. It’s refreshing to see someone that’s more lowkey with their thoughts and isn’t – cough Fitz cough – masturbating to pictures he drew of his love interest. I liked that he had a solid relationship with his parents, but he has to be an idiot to not see that his girl best friend obviously doesn’t want to stay platonic with him. I know she’ll probably be brought up again within the series, which I definitely don’t want to see.
Brenna and Jake’s relationship definitely wasn’t my favourite. It was difficult for me to believe that they held genuine feelings for each other when the majority of their interactions were physical, not emotional. I couldn’t quite understand the professions of love when 99.9% of their relationship was sexual attraction up until that point. Sure, I believe they’re a good couple together and have some chemistry, but I don’t think they could’ve been fully in love at the point that they were. It’s definitely insta-love.
The plot and its pacing was the massive downfall for me. The first 50% of the book drags on with only one fake date and about two real dates. The tension between the two main characters wasn’t enough to keep me engaged; I just wanted something to happen. Then, everything happens in the last 10% of the book. Everything flys past you. We’ve got the relationship, the big game, the huge complications, and the resolutions all in that short span of time. If the plot was more cohesive and the drama was spread out properly over time, I would’ve enjoyed this much more.
I have one petty complaint: Jake and Brenna reminded me too much of Garrett and Hannah from The Deal. To put it straight: I enjoyed this less because I felt like I’d read the book before through Garrett and Hannah. Sure, there are some differences, but there were plenty of similarities for me to draw these conclusions.
The Risk is an underwhelming addition to the Off Campus world, but it’s undeniably an improvement from its predecessor. With a few adjustments to the pacing of the plot and development of the relationship, it would be a perfect, multi-faceted romance novel. I’d definitely recommend for those who are fans of characters who have sexual tension off the charts or previous fans of the series.