Goal by Alexandria House

Goal by Alexandria House
Published: 2022
For Maleek Jones, hockey is his wife. Everything and everyone else is his mistress, an aside. When unexpected responsibilities land in his lap, the balance of his world is disrupted, changing the way he sees everything. Trying to figure out life while recovering from trauma, Nuri Knox finds herself in desperate need of the one thing Maleek has to offer. In each other, they discover what neither of them expects.

Dusting off the old book blog now that I’ve joined a reading group. Let’s see if I remember how to do this.

Note: I do reviews in two sections — an overall impression spoiler free one and then a more in-depth detailed review below the “Read” more tag.


I don’t like this book.

A few biases out of the way: I don’t read a ton of contemporary because I’m too lazy to try new authors, lol, and I tend to stick to historical romances. But one of my favorite contemporary genres is a good sports romances. Thinking of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars, Rachel Gibsons’s Seattle Chinooks, and Catherine Gayle’s Portland Storm and Tulsa Thunder. (BTW anyone know what happened to Catherine Gayle? Girl just straight up and disappeared.) ANYWAY.

I voted for this book in my reading group because I’m an easy bitch. You put hockey in the description, and I’m gonna read it. Not really a good thing because what this author knows about hockey could fit on the head of a pin. Which is to say — almost nothing.

So what’s wrong with this book? Outside the fact that this could have been a golf book for how much the sport actually matters, the characters are barely interesting, the plot is non-existent, and the pacing is faster than the speed of light for no reason whatsoever. The romance such as it is mostly a bunch of cringe-worthy sex scenes strewn together. The only characters I was invested in were the younger siblings, Jules and Junior, but they’re just there to facilitate the main characters getting together.

I don’t know. I’m sure people can find enjoyment in it. It’s a quick read, especially if you skip the badly-written sex scenes (which I did after about Chapter 20) because they don’t move the plot forward. They just take up space. The writing is just…superficial. Everything skims the surface — we hint at a few deeper issues that were almost interesting, but it goes nowhere.

But the cover is cute, so there’s that.





The moment I knew that I was going to dread every single page I had left was right in the middle of the first, uh, love scene. Maleek finds out Nuri is a virgin. And she’s waited all this time (she’s 31, he’s 26) for the “right” person. Maleek’s her “right” person.

Mind you, at this point, all this chick knows is that he broke up with his fiancée five minutes ago after seven years and he took in his younger siblings after his father died — siblings he’d never met and was unaware of. And all Maleek knows about Nuri for almost the entire book is that she’s homeless and the perfect mother-figure. They talk about zero percent of their backstory (including the fact Nuri’s a school shooting survivor and had so much anxiety that she quit her job and her life derailed).

I was prepared to really relate to Nuri. The first time we meet her, we get that backstory, and I was like — yes, I completely understand that. As a teacher, I’ve had the anxiety of the drills, the worry over real shelters in place (we had a shooting in an apartment complex right behind our school, so they locked us down for 40 minutes on a Friday afternoon — we didn’t get out of school until like 3:30). So yeah, an actual school shooting when you’re literally forced to think about being a human shield for the tiny humans? It could really fuck you up. And she didn’t seem to have a lot of support or understanding from her family. There’s some hint of problems with the aunt.

Like, Nuri and Maleek are introduced as two fascinating characters with damage that could make for a complex and beautiful romance. Maleek was mostly abandoned by his father, and then when his father did send for him, he immediately sent him right back. Maleek focuses on hockey as the only stable thing in his life (we get hints that things aren’t good with his mother, but nothing pans out). Imagine the possibilities! Maleek is closed off, only focusing on the career because it’s always been there for him. Nuri is traumatized, but clearly has a lot of love to give and is desperate to receive it since she’s not getting it from her family. And we get them in a family situation — she becomes nanny to two kids who’d lost their parents and don’t know their brother. (And their story continues to be the best part — I really wanted so much more. When they tell Maleek later that they know their parents regretted them, it’s sad).

But we don’t get that love story, and okay, that’s on me. You gave me two damaged characters who could find healing through love and understanding and I got my hopes up.

What I got was the two-dimensional other woman as the interloper. Tasha, Maleek’s girlfriend, is a materialistic bitch who doesn’t have one ounce of empathy for Maleek’s siblings. And sure, I could understand being thrown for how different life is — but honestly? They barely affect her life. Tasha accuses Maleek of hiding two biracial kids and passing them off as his father’s (like what?) and breaks up with him for not tossing the kids to the wolves. Like, she’s immediately evil and horrible, and only exists to put off Maleek and Nuri getting together until Chapter 16 or whenever it happens. As soon as Tasha leaves? Maleek immediately hits on Nuri. Like — maybe a few days.

The author chose a cheap villain antagonist as an external obstacle, and you could tell she didn’t know how to fill the rest of the plot without bringing Tasha back over and over again to be a two-dimensional bitch. Because Maleek and Nuri? Nope, that’s easy street. They trade traumatic backstories like they’re exchanging business cards (she doesn’t tell him about the shooting until like two chapters from the end). He signs up for therapy to deal with his abandonment issues, no worries. In this book, the print copy has just over 200 pages. We had time for the setup, disgruntled fiancée sticking around for half the book, a quick relationship, marriage, miscarriage, and another pregnancy — I got whiplash.

I don’t know. It’s just not for me.  If it’s for you, good. But don’t give me interesting characters and do nothing with them except cringey sex scenes for 80% of their relationship.

Oh, and the interesting Nuri-aunt situation? It gets resolved in a WTF argument that is never hinted at all in the first 150 pages.  We don’t hear about the aunt except for the one conversation at the beginning of the book and the confrontation. So…I hope you’re ready for….NOTHING. Because that’s what you’re going to get.

1.1Overall Score


Dusting off the old book blog now that I've joined a reading group. Let's see if I remember how to do this. Note: I do reviews in two sections -- an overall impression spoiler free one and ...

  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Pacing
  • Romance

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