I’m a big fan of the concept, it’s the execution that I didn’t love. Having a second chance romance set in a Survivor-like reality show created some great forced proximity, tension, and the requirement that this couple work out their differences if they want to succeed. I loved that it felt unique, and I was certainly curious how things would play out. But the reality show element ended up taking over the storyline, with SO MANY quick scenes packed into one short book. Every scene was so quick that the interactions felt shallow; those complex emotions didn’t have enough time to simmer. Which made a few things feel kinda cringey. There were also some inconsistencies in the hero’s dating history, which made me focus more on their time apart than I would’ve liked. All in all, not a bad read, but it could’ve been a lot better with a little more time in the oven.
The story follows Archer, a pro hockey player who is excited to go on a brand new reality TV show, Exiled. The concept is mysterious, but Archer knows he’ll be competing against other hockey players, and he’s ready for some fun in the sun. The only problem? It turns out that everyone will be competing in teams of two… and he’ll be paired up with the woman who broke his heart at 18. Archer and Lauren were high school sweethearts, but their relationship ended when he was drafted. They blame each other for the way things ended, but the situation was more complicated than either is willing to admit. As these two former lovers deal with eight years of built-up anger and resentment, they’re forced to work together to survive.
So let’s start with the obvious: the concept is kinda ludicrous. Pro hockey players would not agree to sacrifice their million dollar bodies for a reality TV show where they’ll be malnourished and exposed to the elements. I know that. They didn’t need to be hockey players either, but whatever. I really liked the originality of the storyline, and the setting creates plenty of perfect moments for a second chance romance. Where this falters for me is the length, mostly. There’d be a challenge, a brief romantic interaction, then rinse and repeat. It was too much for how short the book is. Parts of the second chance dynamic also rubbed me the wrong way, but I’m not someone who loves this particular trope. I was also confused by Archer’s dating history – sometimes it seemed like he’s been a player, sometimes it was the complete opposite. They had definitely both moved on prior to the start of the show, but there were clearly lingering feelings there. Ultimately, there were too many things going on, and I would’ve enjoyed this a lot more if everything had just slowed down a bit.
Pro hockey player Archer Holt is taking his charm and swagger from the ice to the…sand? One of sixteen players competing to be the last man standing on a new reality show, he’s all in until he finds out the meaning behind the show’s title—Exiled.
Before I was a pro hockey player, I was an Eagle Scout. I can tie knots, build shelters and fish like nobody’s business, making me the perfect choice to represent my team on a reality show set on a primitive tropical island. I can endure scorching heat, tough competitions and torrential rainfall—no problem. But when I find out who my partner is, I’m not so sure I’ll survive being stranded on an island with her.
Archer Holt broke my heart eight years ago. Now he’s rich and famous, and I’m a high school English teacher in our hometown. When I’m offered the chance to compete for half a million dollars by outlasting fifteen other teams on an island with my selfish jerk of an ex, I jump at it, because that money can change not just my life, but my family’s. Besides, I’m long over Archer.
Or so I thought.
About the Author:
Brenda Rothert is an Illinois native who was a print journalist for nine years. She made the jump from fact to fiction in 2013 and never looked back. From new adult to steamy contemporary romance, Brenda creates fresh characters in every story she tells. She’s a lover of Diet Coke, lazy weekends and happily ever afters.
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