Wicked Serve

MUST-READ spicy hockey romance from the TikTok sensation!

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Pub Date 13 Aug 2024 | Archive Date 27 Aug 2024
Headline | Headline Eternal

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Description

He's my brother's biggest hockey rival . . . but he's bringing the heat for me

'Sparkling prose and delicious tension . . . Grace Reilly is the queen of sports romance!' STEPHANIE ARCHER

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Pre-order your new obsession from TikTok sensation Grace Reilly, a SPICY brother's rival hockey romance! Perfect for fans of Hannah Grace, Liz Tomforde and Elsie Silver.
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Nikolai

Hockey is my life, and I need to make this last season count. But when I'm forced to transfer to rival school McKee University for my senior year, I risk pissing off the captain, who happens to be the older brother of Isabelle Callahan: the gorgeous beam of sunshine I messed around with in secret this summer.

Rekindling our fling could risk her brother icing me off the team - not to mention the fact that my scarred past makes having a real relationship impossible - and yet the moment I see Isabelle again, all my wild, burning feelings come rushing back . . .

Izzy
I have two goals for sophomore year: win back my old volleyball position, and forget I ever knew devilishly handsome hockey defenseman Nikolai Abney-Volkov. As the youngest and only daughter in a family full of athletes, failure isn't an option.

But when Nik crashes back into my life, I can't stay away from his broody charm. I'm determined to guard my heart this time, but between the furtive hookups and the heartfelt conversations, the lines between friends-with-benefits and more begin to blur.

As we fall deeper into a place we can't come back from unscathed, we'll have to make a choice: fight for a future together, or watch it go up in flames.

READERS ARE OBSESSED WITH THE BEYOND THE PLAY SERIES:

'THE SPICE!!!!! Top tier' ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
'There's spice. There's cuteness. There's a man who knows what he's doing' ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
'If you want spice and two stubborn college students this is it!' ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
'This book was EVERYTHING I needed' ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

He's my brother's biggest hockey rival . . . but he's bringing the heat for me

'Sparkling prose and delicious tension . . . Grace Reilly is the queen of sports romance!' STEPHANIE ARCHER

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Pre-order...


Available Editions

EDITION Ebook
ISBN 9781035412877
PRICE £9.99 (GBP)
PAGES 480

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Average rating from 49 members


Featured Reviews

Steamy and captivating! This sports romance had me hooked from page one. The chemistry between the characters is electric, and the story had me enthralled.

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Such an easy 5 star book!
Emotional and heartwarming while being funny and light.
I loved the storyline and I literally didn’t want to put it down.
This book made me fall even more in love with the previous characters and the whole Callahan family.
An amazing ending to the series.

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I have loved the Beyond the Play series from day one, and have been quite literally foaming at the mouth obsessing over reading Wicked Serve. This absolutely did not disappoint, I love Nik and Izzy with my whole heart ❤️
There was definitely some emotional parts to this story, poor Nik had me sobbing more than once, but they are both so deserving of their happy ending.
My only complaint is that there are no more Callahans for me to read about 😭

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Wicked Serve - Grace Reilly

Finally, a hockey/sport romance without the toxicity!

This book was all about realising potential and supporting each other. Nikolai and Isabelle’s story had an element of ‘will they, won’t they?’ to it, whilst they both juggle their own family expectations.

Nikolai is dealing with being the prodigy of an abusive father and former hockey star whilst Isabelle is trying to continue with her passion for Volleyball whilst trying to keep the famous Callahan family proud.

Their story was wholesome. It showed the importance of supporting and encouraging each other’s dreams, whilst taking care of your mental health.

The storyline of Nik and Izzy’s brother becoming teammates as the two of them simultaneously keeping their ‘fling’ secret ended differently to how I expected. However, I was living for the supportive nature of Cooper and the love he has for his little sister.

Regardless of the odd dysfunctional family, this book was filled with healthy relationships, communication and friendship.
A ‘he falls first’ trope within college sports is usually overdone, but I really enjoyed the way it was written, resulting in Nikolai having his very own found family and prioritising dealing with his trauma.

However, I feel that the book was longer than necessary. There were a lot of unnecessary sport-focused chapters when sport was already the focus of the story. And it frustrated me to no end that Nik didn’t even put up a fight at his Grandfather’s requests!!

Overall though, it was such an easy read, more smut than plot but sometimes that ratio can make for the best books! I loved that the Russian language was included throughout, it really helped with the character building of Nikolai and the cultural divide between him and Isabelle.

Grace Reilly does it again!

Thank you NetGalley and Headline for the ARC in return for an honest review!

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Wicked Serve by Grace Reilly
Rating: 4/5
Release Date: 13 August 2024

In "Wicked Serve," hockey sensation Nikolai Abney-Volkov confronts the ultimate test when he joins rival McKee University for his senior year. His predicament? Reviving a clandestine summer romance with Isabelle Callahan, sister to his new team's captain.

Amid escalating tensions on and off the ice, Nikolai and Isabelle must navigate their intense chemistry, braving all odds for a shot at love.

The narrative of this book exuded charm and endearment, qualities that resonated deeply with me. What I cherished most was the sweetness of the romance intertwined with the gradual development of the characters, which kept me thoroughly engaged from start to finish. The genuine emotions and personal growth portrayed throughout added layers of depth to the storyline.

Nikolai emerges as a standout figure among book boyfriends, leaving a lasting impression with his magnetic charisma and the allure of his Russian heritage.

Beyond its compelling romance, “Wicked Serve” fearlessly delves into profound and sensitive themes, including the long-lasting effects of childhood trauma and child abuse on mental health and relationships. It intricately explores the struggles of anxiety, panic attacks, and the heavy emotional burdens that weigh on the characters.

Despite grappling with these challenges, the story unfolds with a compelling blend of beauty and depth. Readers are immersed in a narrative that garners praise for its intricate plot and finely crafted characters. Both protagonists undergo significant personal growth as they confront their past traumas and navigate the complexities of their evolving relationship. Their journey is marked by moments of resilience, self-discovery, and mutual support.

I did however find moments where the story seemed to linger longer than necessary, which affected its pacing. A more concise approach could have enhanced the overall flow and tightened the narrative structure. Despite this minor issue, the book's adorable moments and unexpected twists contributed significantly to its appeal. These elements not only added excitement but also underscored the enduring impact of the story.

Overall, while the pacing could have been more streamlined, the book's heartfelt romance, character growth, and surprising turns made it a memorable and worthwhile read. It left an indelible impression, leaving me reflecting on its themes and characters long after I turned the final page.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Headline | Headline Eternal, and the author, Grace Reilly, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review

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Title: Wicked Serve by Grace Reilly

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Stars

Release date: August 13th 2024

If there is one thing that my friends and followers will know about me, is that I am truly a sucker for cute book covers, this one was no exception! This cover gave me the romantic sport feels! And I’m all for it.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get to the book review.

In Wicked Serve, hockey star Nikolai Abney-Volkov faces the challenge of his life when he transfers to rival McKee University for his senior year.
His dilemma? Rekindling a secret summer fling with Isabelle Callahan, the sister of his new team's captain.

As tensions rise both on and off the ice, Nikolai and Isabelle navigate their burning chemistry, risking everything for a chance at love.

What I Loved:

* Dynamic Characters: Nikolai and Isabelle’s characters are well-crafted and relatable. Nikolai's broody charm and Isabelle's determined spirit make for a captivating pair. Their chemistry is electric, and their individual struggles add depth to their romance and to the story development.

* Sports Setting: The vivid depiction of hockey and volleyball adds an exciting layer to the story. The intensity of the sports scenes mirrors the emotional stakes, making for an engaging read. If you love your sport romance stories, look no further.

* Swoony Romance: The slow burn and secretive nature of Nikolai and Isabelle's relationship are tantalising. The blend of furtive hookups and heartfelt conversations kept me hooked, rooting for their happy ending.

* Emotional Depth: The exploration of Nikolai's scarred past and Isabelle's struggle to reclaim her volleyball position adds emotional weight to the story. Their vulnerabilities and growth make their journey all the more compelling and realistic.

* Brother’s Rival Trope: The tension between Nikolai and Isabelle's brother adds a delicious layer of conflict. The stakes are high, and the drama is perfectly balanced with the romance.

* Spice and Humour: The book delivers on steamy scenes without overshadowing the plot. The playful banter and lighthearted moments, especially involving koalas, provide a delightful contrast to the more intense scenes.

* Relatable Themes: The themes of ambition, resilience, and the struggle to balance personal desires with family expectations are beautifully woven into the narrative. They add a layer of realism that I found to be relatable.

Wicked Serve by Grace Reilly is a must-read for fans of new adult college sports romance. With its dynamic characters, sizzling romance, and engaging sports backdrop, it’s a story that will keep you turning the pages. The emotional depth and relatable themes make it more than just a steamy read—it’s a heartfelt journey of love, resilience, and self-discovery. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a book that delivers on swoons, spice, and sports!


Thank you to The Publisher Headline | Headline Eternal ,The Author Grace Reilly & NetGalley for an advanced reader copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review.

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I've loved Grace Reilly's Beyond the Play series, and Wicked Serve was a fitting final chapter, and probably my favourite of the lot - although I'll miss the Callahan family. Isabelle, the youngest Callahan sibling and only daughter, has been a supporting character in earlier books, so it was great to finally get her story - and what a cracker it was!

Being the youngest in a family of sporting greats - her father and brothers all having competed in their respective sports at an elite level - Izzy feels the pressure to excel in her chosen sport of volleyball. After a rocky start to her career as a student athlete she's determine to turn her coach's initial bad impression around, and prove she's good enough to win her favoured position a 'setter' (equivalent to a centre). At the same time, she's missing her summer fling. Nikolai and Izzy weren't supposed to last beyond the summer holidays, which they spent together in New York as she interned for his mum's wedding planning business. But events conspire to reunite the pair when Nikolai is forced to transfer to McKee from his previous college under a bit of a dark cloud. He'll be playing on the McKee team as they make a bid for the Frozen Four... alongside his longtime rival, fellow defenseman Cooper Callahan - Izzy's brother.

It's a great setup, and while a lot of the tropes and situations might be fairly familiar to sports romance fans, the writing elevates everything and makes this a genuinely compelling story. It's also pretty spicy! Isabelle and Nikolai have great chemistry, and the way they're so good for each other, able to support one another through their respective trials and tribulations, is heartwarming. I really liked that their journey as a couple was about them becoming the people they needed to be for themselves, in order to pave the way to a happier future - it was about putting in the work to overcome their insecurities and issues, rather than the 'big bad' in the relationship being an outside party (even a protective older brother). I loved seeing Nik being gradually welcomed into the Callahan fold, finding the kind of family he'd been deprived of growing up. I loved his growing friendship with Cooper almost as much as the central romance! And Izzy's insecurities around her perceived 'failures' and her previous relationships meant that I was rooting for her all the way and enjoyed seeing her grow in confidence as the story progressed.

It would absolutely be possible to enjoy this as a standalone, but being the final book in a series, I'd definitely recommend reading the other books first to get the most of Wicked Serve. In fact, I'm tempted to re-read the whole lot myself! As college sports romances go, these are right up there with the best of them - highly recommended.

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So in the mood to acquire a new great hockey romance and this perfectly fits the bill! I am so excited to share my full thoughts and review on Wicked Serve very soon! I am slowly catching up on reviews due to an unexpected health issue, but slowly getting there and am enjoying reading and reviewing excellent books like this along the way. Truly the best medicine. Grace Reilly is definitely getting added to my list of favorites

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OMG, this is straight up going to the list of my favorite books ever! I can't even explain how much I loved this; there aren't enough words in English, or any other language for that matter, for me to do that! I was pretty confident no one could knock Cooper out of the first place, but boy was I wrong. While I love Cooper even more after this book, NIKOLAI!!! This man was perfect from start to finish!

I'm so sad to say goodbye to these characters because I really do love all of them and hope to see them again at some point. This is the end of an era, okay? But this book was such a wonderful closure to it that I can't even complain!!

I love how this wasn't the typical forbidden romance. While they did sneak around, I loved how they never said, "OMG, this was a mistake, we can't do this, what about this, what about that." Not once did they think it was a mistake, and I love that. I love that their story wasn’t filled with clichés just for the sake of it. The way their relationship evolved from a casual fling to friendship and then to full commitment felt so natural and wonderful.

I also really appreciate how carefully Grace preserves the characterization of her previous main characters. It's frustrating when reading a series and a beloved character suddenly becomes a villain or unlikeable. For instance, I was really worried Cooper would turn into an overprotective alpha older brother, which would ruin the affection I had for him in Breakaway. But, nope!!! Grace portrayed him in a perfectly balanced way that was believable and reminded me why he was such a great book boyfriend in his own story! The same goes for James and Sebastian! I was swooning over Nikolai AND the Callahan boys in this one!!! It simply was not fair!!!!!

I loved that the book focused on putting in the effort to overcome their insecurities and issues, rather than having an external 'big bad' threaten the relationship (like a protective older brother). I loved watching Nik gradually being welcomed into the Callahan family, finding the kind of support he lacked growing up. His developing friendship with Cooper was almost as heartwarming as the main romance! And I got to mention Cooper baiting Nik to take the toy soldier piece during their game of Monopoly – if you know, you know!

The way the main characters and their relationship were portrayed was really well done. Without giving too much away, their connection could have easily turned toxic, but the story kept things realistic and avoided unnecessary drama. Both Isabelle and Nik acted authentically, which I appreciated. It's refreshing to see young people portrayed as mature and thoughtful, instead of always being dramatic.

Nik's personal growth was particularly impressive; he went from being closed-off to being open and learning what it takes to have a healthy relationship. Isabelle was relatable with her lively personality, trying to balance her responsibilities and meet everyone's expectations, including her own, which were sometimes impossible.

Also, for the people who need to know…. The smut smutted. I need Nik in a biblical sense. You will too, I promise. I’ll just leave you with "good girl" and "crawl to me"... take that as you will! Seriously, you might want to keep a fan handy.

If you need any more reasons to dive into this perfection (and really, why would you?), here are some microtropes that make "Wicked Serve" absolutely irresistible: He calls her an adorable Russian nickname but doesn't reveal its meaning, he has a mysterious scar on his face, he keeps a photo he promised to delete, he made a deal that shattered his dreams but brought him closer to his dream girl, he remembers little details and surprises Izzy with the most heartfelt moments, he stands up to her brothers and tells them they’re hurting her feelings, there's no third act breakup, just an important pause, he takes her seriously when no one else does, and they even crash a wedding.

Nik and Izzy have my whole heart. There were definitely some emotional moments in this story; poor Nik had me in tears more than once. However, they both truly deserved their happy ending. My biggest gripe is that there are no more Callahans left for me to read about. I didn't want this book to end, but Grace wrote the best final chapter and epilogue ever. She wrapped up the Callahans' story perfectly, so even though it's finished, I feel really happy with how everything turned out. I'm thrilled to have had the chance to read it ahead of time, and I'm eagerly anticipating Grace's next work.

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The final book for the Callaghan family siblings is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while!

Nik gets transferred to McKee University to play on their hockey team after a summer fling with Izzy (whose brother is captain of the hockey team and a big rival of Nik’s)
What was supposed to just be a summer fling soon turns to more, and neither can then deny their feelings from the summer.

We saw some hints about Izzy and Nik and I wasn’t sure I’d like Nik but he totally changed my opinion. Him and Izzy were perfect for each other. I loved their love and support- they were always in each other’s corners.

If you’ve read the previous books in this series, you get to see lots of the other Callaghan siblings and their partners which I really enjoyed- I always love getting to see past couples again in books.

Overall I felt the book was a little too long- the first half felt a bit drawn out and as though things could have progressed quicker. But I loved the ending and especially the epilogue where we got to see the whole Callaghan family!

Thank you to the author and Netgalley for this advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Having never read any of the other books from the ‘beyond the play series’ I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to engage with the characters and the storyline. It took me a while to get started and once I did I read it extremely quickly.
It’s going to be a hit with the booktok community when released! I feel privileged that I got to read this early.

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It’s a really cute book, really funny and entertaining, is a really easy book to have a great time.
I love Nikolai and Izzy, the love for their sports, the support that give to each other but something just doesn’t click at all for me.
I enjoyed the book a ton, I really had a good time with it but something missing for me.
I

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This is the final book in the Callahan family sports series from Grace Reilly and she really said goodbye with a BANG! This book was pure joy- healthy romance, character depth, and fan-favorite tropes! Nikolai is under pressure from being a hockey prodigy and reconciling his father's abuse while Isabelle is caving under familial pressure while trying to reconnect with volleyball! They bond over their shared life struggles but also over their mutual relationship to Izzy's brother and Nik's new teammate! This adds the perfect dimension of tension and chemistry to a bubbly love story. The relationships were written with care and the romance was developed with support but the pacing did drag in some parts which ultimately hurt the emotional impact of the third act. With that said, this was a blend of chemistry, depth, and tenderness that will serve fans of Grace Reilly right! Recommended for fans of Hannah Grace and Liz Tomforde!

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I read this book in one sitting because I could not put it down. The way the Grace constructed the plot and developed the characters was captivating. I am so thankful to Headline and Grace Reilly for sending this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

I am so proud to say I discovered Grace as an indie author before she was signed. I will continue to say that to everyone, because it's not often that happens with an indie author you love. Although I have never met her in person, it makes me so proud to be part of her journey to getting signed.

The anticipation for this book was real ever since Grace shared the blurb on her socials months ago. I was drawn in by the promise of a simple brother's rivalry and a summer fling, and I can confidently say that the book delivered on all fronts.

I loved how the story talks about family dynamics in the sense that even the perfect family has problems, but also deals with domestic abuse, so be sure to check your trigger warnings before reading this book.

Although I loved how Nik and Isabella started their relationship and little by little shredded those layers and started to open up to each other, broken pieces and all, the book for me felt too long. I felt that some scenes could have been condensed to maintain the pace of the story. I wished it was a little more concise like the other books in the series.

I really liked this book, but I am not sorry to say Breakaway is still my favorite. Thank you, Headline and Grace Reilly, again for sending it my way.

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