My feelings towards Icebreaker are a little cold.
Icebreaker by Hannah Grace follows Anastasia Allen, an aspiring Olympic ice skater, after an incident at college forces her to share an ice rink with the hockey team. When Anastasia’s partner is injured, she must team up with Nathan Hawkins, the annoying hockey team captain in order to train for a competition. Despite Anastasia’s aversions to hockey players, she develops feelings for Nathan.
I first heard of Icebreaker through BookTok and was drawn in by the cute, illustrated cover. After reading the description, it appeared that Icebreaker would be a cute, sports romance similar to The Cutting Edge, a popular 90s movie where an ice skater must rely on a hockey player to compete in the Olympics. While IceBreaker had an interesting premise, I found the execution to be lacking.
One aspect that hindered Icebreaker’s success was the editing. Icebreaker is slightly over 400 pages, which is not a typical length for a book in the romance genre. While books do not necessarily have to fit the mold of their genres, I find that most romance books which push over the 400 mark suffer from issues plot and pacing. Unfortunately, these were two major issues which interfered with my reading experience.
While I was reading Icebreaker, the description of the plot in the synopsis did not match the contents inside the novel. From the book’s description, I assumed that Icebreaker would primarily focus on Anastasia and Nathan working together in order to prepare for Anastasia’s competition. Following traditional novel structure, this inciting incident should occur early in the book. However, this did not occur until halfway through the novel. Once this situation occurred, only a small portion of the book focused on Anastasia and Nathan working together. I believe if these events occurred sooner and the middle of the novel focused on Anastasia and Nathan’s iceskating and romantic relationship, then the book would have been more successful and more accurate to the synopsis provided by publishers.
Since the plot didn’t adhered to typical story structure for the romance genre, it did not seem to have a coherent structure. When I read a romance book, I like to see the scenes build upon each other. Each scene should show the love interests challenging each other’s false belief about love, and as a result, the characters develop a deeper relationship. I did not find this to occur in Icebreaker. Instead, Icebreaker seemed to have scenes that either centered around popular tropes or situations that you would find in a romance novel, but the scenes weren’t necessarily connected to each other. Additionally, the two love interests start a relationship fairly early in the novel, which decreased tension throughout the story. The scenes in Icebreaker didn’t offer anything new or unique to the book compared to other books in the same genre, so I never felt incredibly close to the characters in those scenes. To me, it felt like I was supposed to believe in the relationship between Anastasia and Nathan purely based on cute moments which they shared as opposed to them developing an authentic romantic relationship.
These issues with the plot resulted in issues with the book’s pacing. Since the main action occurred late in the story, I felt unmotivated to continue reading this book. Many of the scenes at the beginning of the novel were also repetitive, which made the beginning of the story drag on for too long. I think this book would have benefitted from more edition to take out scenes that weren’t purposeful to the story and to make the beginning of the novel tighter. That being said, I did enjoy the last 15% of the book. The events at the end of the story happen quicker and are more tightly written, which made the story easier to read.
Apart from my issues with the plot, I also had several issues with the characters of the novel as one. One, there were just too many! Looking on Goodreads, it appears that the Icebreaker will be the first book in a contemporary romance series surrounding the characters at this college. It is fairly common now for contemporary romances to be turned into series following characters previously mentioned in the original book. That being said, it was fairly obvious in Icebreaker that this was the case. There were so many characters introduced that it was hard to keep track of the characters and their backstories. Additionally, this led to many subplots that weren’t necessarily important to the story. Since Icebreaker already suffered from an inconsistent plot and long length, some of these characters and plots could have been introduced later on in the series rather than all dumped within the first novel.
As for the two main characters, Anastasia and Nathan, I needed more depth. Anastasia and Nathan remind me a lot of other characters from similar novels. As a result, they read as cardboard cutout characters from the genre. Anastasia is a Type A, sarcastic heroine who “isn’t like other girls” because of her casual relationships. Nathan is a player with a heart of gold who will drop anything for Anastasia. Also, the relationship between these two characters was very plot-based as opposed to character-based. For example, Anastasia and Nathan do not reveal their true feelings towards each other after a life-threatening situation that occurs randomly in the book. Personally, I prefer relationships in a romance novel to be a mix where a situation drives the characters together, but choices that they make as a character deepen their relationship. Since Anastasia and Nathan’s relationship was so plot based and I had so many issues with the plot, this hindered my investment in their relationship.
Overall, Icebreaker missed the mark on many areas that I look for in a romance novel. To be honest, if I hadn’t purchased this book, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. While I did enjoy the last part of the novel, the rest of the novel did not meet my expectations. I give Icebreaker 2 out of 5 stars.