Icebreaker by Hannah Grace is a cozy romcom for lovers of winter



The cover of Icebreaker by Hannah Grace, an adorable hockey romance

Sports romances: forever my guilty pleasure genre.

Hockey boys: only tolerable when written by women.

Icebreaker, by Hannah Grace: the best combination of both.

From the classic Off-Campus series to the slow-burn Mariana Zapata books (or should I say bricks), sports romances have grown in popularity with the rise of BookTok.

We have seen football romances, basketball romances, and even racing romances, but probably the most popular, and definitely the most prolific, are hockey romances.

I, personally, have read a fair few of these specific books, including the aforementioned Off-Campus series, and an absolutely adorable graphic novel duology. Icebreaker may have been my favorite.

Icebreaker by Hannah Grace is a story about the relationship between the captain of the hockey team and an Olympic-bound figure skater. Both attend the University of California, Maple Hill—a fictional branch of the real school—and after a misunderstanding blows up into a prank gone wrong, they are forced to share one ice rink.

This book combines all of my favorite tropes: forced proximity, hate (or irritation) to love, and even found family.

The relationship between Anastasia—Stassie—and Nathan is, in my opinion, the perfect romance-novel relationship. It is just perfect enough that you know it would never happen in real life, but it is difficult and rocky enough to trick you into thinking it might.

Furthermore, one of my least favorite tropes, especially in romance books, is miscommunication, and one of the best things about Icebreaker—and Nate—is that he refuses to let that happen.

[Thier romance] is just perfect enough that you know it would never happen in real life, but it is difficult and rocky enough to trick you into thinking it might.

He gives Stassie the space she needs to communicate with him, whether it be about his actions, her feelings, or even her overbearing skating partner, and this is one of the reasons that their relationship works so well.

The other aspect of their romance that I adored was the double forced proximity. First, they must share a rink and therefore get to know each other and their respective teams.

After this, though, they are again forced to share space when Aaron, Stassie’s partner, gets injured and finds Nate to blame, removing both Aaron and Nate from their teams.

Nate and Stassie strike up a deal to keep both of them in shape during this difficult time and are therefore compelled to spend more time together (although now it is more voluntary). During their joint training, Nate and Stassie get to know each other as humans, which makes their romantic connection more believable.

The other half of the book is about family. This family is found in a few places. Stassie is an orphan, and her adoptive parents are incredibly loving and supportive, but she still has issues to work through with them. Nate’s father, on the other hand, is a cold figure who only values his children—Nate and his sister Sasha—for their talent at skiing. Nate’s choice to pursue hockey rather than the family sport causes a rift between the two.

The most important family, though, is the found family comprised of Nate and Stassie, her best friend Lola, and several members of Nate’s hockey team. Lola, Robbie, JJ, and Henry, the other members of this family, are a hilarious bunch of misfits including LGBTQ+, POC, and disability representation. They put the com in rom-com.

The author has promised a series of companion novels following the other characters, and I cannot wait.

As Stassie said, Nate is most definitely a man written by a woman, and I cannot wait for more.