Monday, March 25, 2024

Review - - Wild Ride

Wild Ride
by Kate Meader
Rookie Rebels - Book 9
Publisher: Kate Meader, LLC
Release Date: March 26, 2024
Reviewed by PJ

Chicago Rebels hockey player Dex O'Malley has been a naughty boy . . . again.

Only his latest stunt isn’t quite like when he was caught with his pants down at a nightclub or was cited for drag-racing on Lake Shore Drive or even that time he said a few critical things about his teammates on a hockey podcast. Oops. This time, Dex is in real trouble, the kind that could get him kicked off the team and out of the league. And that can
not happen. Hockey is the only thing he’s ever been good at. The only thing he cares about. He’ll do whatever it takes to rehab his rep, even if it means cleaning up dog poop and suffering the steely-eyed disapproval of his new no-nonsense “boss” at the animal shelter, Ashley Adams.

Ashley has enough on her plate between her low-paying job, her high-maintenance family, and a love life she’s trying to resurrect after her divorce. She’s already mom to an amazing nine-year-old; the last thing she needs is to be stuck mothering a celebrity volunteer with more money than sense. But the troublemaking f-boy needs Ashley to sign off on his good deeds so he can get back to what he does best: lighting up lamps both on and off the ice. And while a guy like that could never interest her mind, it seems her body is not on the same page. Sure, Dex O’Malley is too young, too hot, too flighty for Ashley to take seriously, but a brief ride on the wild side might fit the bill …

Only that’s not enough for Dex. What happens when this notorious player decides the older, single mom is the hottest woman he’s ever met and that he wants to light her lamp . . . forever?

PJ's Thoughts:

Kate Meader is one of my favorite contemporary authors. Her books bubble over with sass, sizzle, and bone-deep emotion. Not to mention some of the best bromances around. Meddling, advice-giving, downright hilarious hockey teammates for the win. 

One of the things Meader does exceptionally well is the redemption of bad-boy heroes who are sometimes also total jerks. Enter the hero of Wild Ride, Dex O'Malley. If you've been reading Meader's Rookie Rebels series, you'll recognize Dex as heroine Tara's media-nightmare fake fiancĂ© (but not hero) from book 7, Jock Wanted. He showed glimmers of good-guy contrition in that book but it's going to take more - much more - to turn the corner for free-wheeling, trouble-magnet, entitled f-boy, Dex. Enter Ashley, a no-nonsense, hard-working, single mom whose sense of desirability has been beaten into the ground by her louse of an ex. She knows nothing about hockey and is less than impressed by the entitled (though gorgeous) celebrity athlete who's been dumped on her. She's determined to not give Dex an inch. He's determined to loosen her up. And then the fun begins...

I adored this couple. They've become one of my Meader favorites. The evolution of their relationship is filled with unexpected layers, plenty of humor, poignant moments, sizzle, and growth. Ashley's arc takes her on a journey of self-discovery that had me cheering. Her ex really did a number on her self-confidence, especially in regards to her looks and body image. To see her begin to blossom because of time spent with Dex - Dex! - was both poignant and empowering. Who knew he had it in him? Well, obviously the author did. It was so much fun to watch a smitten Dex have to do the chasing for probably the first time in his life. The best things in life are worth putting in the effort and Ashley - and hockey - are at the top of Dex's list.

There is so much more to Dex than meets the eye. I love how Meader uses the shelter animals to slowly unveil the layers of this character, showing parallels in the troubled journey of one particular rescue with Dex's own life journey. There may have been heart-tugging tears. Okay, there absolutely were. Then there are his encounters with Ashley's awkward, hockey-loving daughter which shine a light on his unexpected compassion, understanding, and goodness. It was heartwarming to watch him grow into this kind, caring, protective man without losing the mischievous, sexy flirt (but now with only one woman). 

The supporting cast in this book is flawless. As in earlier books, Meader uses the current and retired members of the Rebels to perfection. There is not a grandma out there who can rival these hockey players when it comes to romance meddling. The scenes where they start doling out romantic advice are pure gold. Several of the Rebels wives are also featured in this book with Tara (the former fake fiancĂ©, now best friend/confidante/cheerleader), leading the way. The woman is a force of nature.

If you enjoy contemporary romance with both sweetness and sizzle, complex, multi-layered characters, emotional depth, meddling friends, humor, and a happily ever after, don't miss Kate Meader's Wild Ride. It's an excellent addition to the Rookie Rebels series. 


Note: For those of you who prefer classic (man chest) covers to the new illustrated ones, check out the online store at Kate Meader's website where her books can be purchased in the cover format of your choice. 



  1. Thank you for the excellent review, PJ! I am a fan of Kate's hockey books & look forward to this one!

  2. Thanks for the review. I am a hockey fan. I admire the skill of hockey players. I mean, they can all skate backwards! Thanks for what a wonderful introduction to this story.