AUTHOR: Sara Biren
CATEGORY/AUDIENCE: Young Adult
GENRE: Contemporary, romance
RELEASE: March 12, 2019
PUBLISHER: Amulet Books
LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
Sara Biren deserves a thousand thank-you cards (preferably hockey-themed) for this gift of a romance she’s shared with us. Cold Day in the Sun manages to be both steamy and slow-burning, and is one of the most refreshing teen romances that I’ve read in quite a while. It may only be May, but I already have a feeling that this will be one of my favorite romances of 2019. The day after I finished it, I woke up and immediately picked it up to reread my favorite parts. Cold Day in the Sun is the hockey romance I never knew I needed.
Holland is the only girl on the boys’ varsity hockey team, and I loved that her teammates, coach, and family were incredibly supportive of her. But despite this support, Holland knows that not everyone in her community feels the same way; people are constantly telling her that it’s not safe for her to be on the boys team, or not proper, that she’s a “distraction” to the team, or that she’s taking a spot from a boy. She’s under pressure to prove herself, train hard, and show that she has earned her spot on the team. Ultimately, Holland wants to be seen as a hockey player, not as the girl hockey player. This novel has such a powerful, feminist message throughout the story—that women are enough.
The romance between Holland and Wes is steamy yet slow-building, and it’s safe to say that Sara Biren knows how to make readers swoon. Both Holland and Wes feel like real, fleshed out characters and I so enjoyed seeing them bond over their love of glam rock and 1980s pop culture. When Holland begins to develop feelings for Wes, she’s reluctant to give their relationship a try. She worries that this will confirm what people already think: that she’s a distraction to the boys on the team and that she hasn’t truly earned her spot. Fans of the enemies-to-lovers trope will adore reading about Holland slowly falling for cocky, seemingly-arrogant Wes, and discovering his soft, sensitive, and tender side. Wes is impossible not to love! He’s gentle, sweet, endearing, and incredibly respectful and supportive of Holland. My absolute favorite thing about their romance is how clearly Wes asks for consent, and that he comments on how sexy Holland’s strength is. Wes is truly the love interest that YA readers have been dreaming of.
Sara Biren does a superb job of blending a swoony romance with an action-packed sports story that presents an excellent commentary on how female athletes are treated. While many of the people in Holland’s life, including her teammates, family, and coach, are supportive, she certainly runs into sexism, sexual harassment, microaggressions, and slut-shaming for dating her team captain. The novel notes that these things happen to female athletes every day, but that this doesn’t make it any less harrowing when it happens to Holland. Though these experiences rattle Holland throughout the book, her rage fuels her to train harder and to play for herself and know that that is enough. Holland asserts again and again that her body belongs to no one, and that what she does with it is no one’s business but her own.
Cold Day in the Sun is a book that I picked up on a whim, and I’m so glad I did. It was a steamy romance and a female athlete manifesto wrapped up into one. It’s about being guarded and being strong. It’s about falling in love and being vulnerable. It’s about being a girl and being an athlete. It’s about being angry and using that anger. It’s about being alone, being a part of a team, and learning how to be with someone else. Sara Biren is a master of romance, and I will undoubtedly be picking up her debut, The Last Thing You Said, and keeping her on my radar. Cold Day in the Sun has set a high bar for 2019 YA romances, and it’s a book you definitely don’t want to sleep on this year.
Thank you Amulet Books for the review copy.