Recommended Read, Review

Review: The Pilot and the Puck-Up by Pippa Grant (2018)

Heat Factor: Men who like strong women = sexy.

Character Chemistry: Instantaneous, but with near-constant fails. It’s sublime.

Plot: Absolutely badass female zero-gravity pilot and business owner meets a gigantic professional hockey player. Competition commences. Plot twist: she beats him at EVERYTHING and it never occurs to him that his masculinity could be threatened by that

Overall: It’s refreshing, it’s hilarious, it’s riveting, and it’s going to make you think about gender roles (but in a genuinely subtle, sexy way)

Here’s the deal–I’m at a phase in my life where I’m kind of tired of reading about women who need a lot of rescuing. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed the heck out of strong, brooding, judgmental Dukes who are “changed” by the love of a gentle woman, and sure, I read a lot of books where there’s a really strong woman who is also super feminine. You know, “flashing eyes” (but they’re also softened by super feminine, thick eyelashes, right?), or a really tough businesswoman who finally meets her match (but he’s not REALLY her match, right? Because for some reason it always ends up feeling like she’s so glad she met someone more powerful than her. Someone who makes her feel small?). This book rocked my world because Pippa Grant didn’t soften Joey, her heroine, at all–she made an alpha female character unapologetically fierce and then just completely normalized it. (Because–spoiler alert–it is normal.)

Honestly, the first chapter put me off–Zeus, the hero, goes into a fancy fundraiser in a dress as part of a bet. Who REALLY thinks prankster crossdressing is all that funny nowadays? It just seemed very “fratboy” to me, and I didn’t love it. I was also immediately put off by Joey, the heroine, who seemed like she was tough but also perhaps a bit rude; she was overprotective of her (adult) younger sister’s chastity and was kind of off-putting in her kind of insult-slinging, “bro” behavior. Plot twist–Joey is SO tough that she hasn’t yet found a guy with whom she was interested in losing her virginity. It seemed like it was just an overdone, almost caricature-esque set up. Even more strangely, by the end of the first scene Joey drags Zeus (still in a wig and dress) into an empty room to do the deed, and Zeus finishes…prematurely…leaving Joey disgusted and unsatisfied. I’ll be honest, I was put off.

But then the hero and heroine meet up again by happenstance at an arcade–and the heroine beats the hero soundly, at everything they play. I loved that the hero didn’t get rankled by it, nor was he in rapture over finally meeting a worthy woman at long last. She challenged him and he loved it, but it was all very human-being-meets-human-being (and something kindred and electric emerges).

And that’s kind of how the relationship develops–Zeus loves everything about Joey, exactly as she is. And she never softens. She doesn’t suddenly develop or reveal more traditionally feminine traits. Even as their relationship intensifies and becomes deeper, she doesn’t break her character so that the reader gets more comfortable with her tough and very “alpha” version of womanhood. And along with these very unique and completely loveable characters, you get the same exhausting belly-laughs you do with every other Pippa Grant book.

This is what this book did–when I noticed my hands were a little rough, I caught myself thinking, “I should really try to moisturize them more often”, and I realized that what I was saying to myself was “Your hands aren’t feminine enough, moisturize them”. I was in a work meeting, and I caught myself saying, “Well, I could be wrong, but…” and what I was really saying was “Don’t be threatened by my idea…” Or when I saw a mom looking perfectly coiffed and done up running errands with her kids, I was judging myself. “Dang…why don’t I try just a little harder?” The whole week after I read this book I ended up taking a closer look at how I was measuring myself, and I was thankful for characters like Joey and Zeus (and authors like Pippa Grant).

Buy Now: Amazon

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