Official Review: Enforcer by Valerie J. Wood

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CommMayo
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Official Review: Enforcer by Valerie J. Wood

Post by CommMayo » 13 Apr 2018, 09:53

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Enforcer" by Valerie J. Wood.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Ice hockey is a game of skill, agility, and retribution. Valerie Wood’s Enforcer immerses the reader into the world of ice hockey, focusing on the toll the sport takes on one particular team position. The enforcer on a hockey team is the guy that habitually protects his teammates through physical retaliation on the ice. If you ever witness a gloves-off fight during a hockey game, chances are that it is being instigated by the team’s enforcer. While they can play a vital and strategic role on the ice, being the team goon can take a heavy toll on a player.

Cole Bowman is the designated enforcer for the Rockets. While he has the drive and ability to be a quality player, his bad boy reputation has shoehorned him into an undesirable role along with a terrible contract for his new team. Cole does his best to satisfy his volatile new coach; all while trying to deal with the pressures of being a disappointment to his father and learning to developed positive relationships with his teammates. In his effort to safeguard his position with the team, Cole turns to a regimen of steroids for strength, opioids for pain management, and alcohol to help him live with himself. Throw in a healthy measure of tranquilizers and a dash of cocaine and you have a train wreck just waiting to happen. Already an emotionally vulnerable person, Cole’s constant struggles with his work and his professional life are exacerbated by his drug and alcohol use. On the ice, Cole is a fearsome force to be reckoned with; however, as a person he is a fragile man on the brink of self-destruction.

Valerie Wood is able to draw the reader into the alien world of ice hockey and instantly makes you empathize with someone who starts brutal fights for a living. She includes enough information in her writing so that someone unfamiliar with ice hockey has an adequate understanding of what is going on, while not going into too much detail as to bore someone who is an enthusiast. There is a satisfying balance of on the ice action and Cole’s personal life, so a reader who is not particularly into sports will not find themselves disinterested.

The plot was interesting and kept me guessing throughout due to some unanticipated twists and turns. There were more than a few times where I had to suspend belief because certain situations and interactions didn’t seem probable or realistic. I was unimpressed by a lot of the stilted and awkward dialogue that occurred between Cole and the other men in the novel. The plot had the tendency to jump around a bit and major events in Cole’s life seemed to happen too rapidly. There were also many times when the point of view would change to that of a minor character for only a few paragraphs.

As I read this book, I was constantly reminded of the fact that the novel was published almost two decades ago. It seems as if the bulk of the book was written in the early 90s. How quickly we have forgotten about the world of payphones, fur coats being stylish, and life without the Internet. This book is full of references that will definitely bring you back. Additionally, it is pretty evident that it was formatted for paperback and the formatting for e-readers has not been done properly.

I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. Wood did an amazing job of creating a deeply flawed protagonist that the reader will easily become invested in and care about. The storyline was interesting and I did enjoy reading this novel. On the other hand, the language feels antiquated, portions of the plot seemed hard to believe, and there needs to be another solid round of editing. If the author is testing the waters for the potential of releasing a second edition of this book, I suggest she take a little time to modernize the language. As is, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. If the editing had been more thorough, I would have rated it a bit higher.

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Enforcer
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Post by Bianka Walter » 15 Apr 2018, 03:35

Just reading your review has taught me more than I have ever known about ice hockey. So thanks for that! It's a pity the dialogue fell short, it seems like Cole is an interesting character but a book can't only be carried by its cast. I'm also happy that I was never around for the fur coat fad. Thanks for the review!
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Post by stacie k » 15 Apr 2018, 08:11

I like the juxtaposition of Cole as a fearsome force on the ice yet fragile off the ice. His character seems complex and well-drawn. I also like the balance of ice action and character development. I’m sure I would learn a lot about hockey by reading this book. Thanks for a great review!
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Post by kandscreeley » 15 Apr 2018, 14:40

It's quite interesting how far we've come since the 90s for sure. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I'm not really into sports stories, so that along with the low rating will keep me from reading this one. Thanks for the info, though.
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Post by Kat Berg » 15 Apr 2018, 22:22

I find it intriguing that the book was published so long ago. A C/M/T author I am a fan of started writing in the 80's and has not moved things forward since then, choosing to keep the story going without the convenience of cell phones and other modern private eye technologies. It works, but I can see where it could also be a weird sort of awful. Thanks for the review.

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Post by cristinaro » 16 Apr 2018, 04:51

I am rather old-fashioned myself, so I wouldn't mind going back to the 1990s. Besides, I know nothing of ice hockey. The problem is: would I like to know? :) I am not willing to deal with the poor editing, though. I guess a second edition could solve all the problems you noticed.
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Post by SABRADLEY » 16 Apr 2018, 05:45

Wow, Cole sure was into a lot of harmful activities! It's a wonder he could function off the ice, let alone on it. I do like that Cole is so complex, as I see that as very believable and true to life. It's too bad about the editing though. Thanks for a great review!

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Post by CommMayo » 16 Apr 2018, 12:19

stacie k wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 08:11
I like the juxtaposition of Cole as a fearsome force on the ice yet fragile off the ice. His character seems complex and well-drawn. I also like the balance of ice action and character development. I’m sure I would learn a lot about hockey by reading this book. Thanks for a great review!
This is exactly what I really liked about the book. The author helps you empathize with his character so much. You kind of get the feeling that life just happens to the poor guy and someone else is always pulling the strings. I was on the verge of giving this three stars because it really was a good story.

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Post by Sarah Tariq » 17 Apr 2018, 02:54

The author has chosen an interesting topic of ice hockey. Old-fashioned people would like this old-fashioned novel ☺.Thanks for your review.
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Post by Juspah » 17 Apr 2018, 07:59

Ice-hokey was one of my favourite sports back in the 90s, reading this book made me feel both nolstagic and young again.
Thanks alot for your review

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Post by Libs_Books » 24 Apr 2018, 12:05

I take my hat off to anyone who can interest me in a story about ice hockey - so that's both you, CommMayo, and the author.

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Post by Dolor » 25 Apr 2018, 12:55

I wonder why this book is entitled Enforcer. I don't have any idea of the Ice Hockey game. I will not read this book because of the presence of drugs and alcohol. I don't like to read books involving illegal drugs. I anticipated a higher rating on the first four paragraphs. Anyway, thanks for the detailed review.

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Post by Lu_rire » 05 May 2018, 14:17

Thanks for the review. The author seems best skilled at character development which I feel is the soul of a book though, great dialogue would have made it perfect.

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Post by gen_g » 23 May 2018, 10:31

Thank you for the detailed review - I especially liked how you justified the rating, and hope that it would be a better read once the issues you mentioned are worked through with an editor!

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Post by teacherjh » 28 May 2018, 17:15

I'm not a hockey fan, but you did a great job explaining the book.
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