Cold Day in the Sun by Sarah Biren read is a cosy winter read with a sizzling romance

Title: Cold Day in the Sun
Series: N/A
Author: Sarah Biren
Publication: March 12th 2019, Amulet Books
Pages: 320, Hardcover
Source: Thank you to Abrams & Chronicle Books for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review! 
Rating: 4/5 cupcakes

Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.
I love contemporary books. I generally reserve them for the summer months, but as this book is set on the icy lakes of Minnesota, I thought this would be the perfect read for the last few weeks of winter. I was right. This book was filled with blizzards, coffee, snacks, fireplaces...and a sizzling romance to keep the cold at bay. With a fiery romance, a strong-willed protagonist, and a supportive love interest, this book was scrumptious - I flew through it.
The characters are what makes or breaks a book for me, and I'm happy to declare that I really liked the characters! Holland is a fabulous main character. She's the only female athlete on a boys' hockey team, which means she has had to deal with a lot of criticism, sexism, and conflict in her athletic career. I really admired Holland for standing strong, for continuing to play despite all the people who are against her decision to play for the boys' team. She was stubborn, strong-willed, and determined. She was good and she knew it. She worked harder than any of the boys to keep her spot on the team. I really admired her diligence and her grit; she was quite an admirable character in that sense.

Holland was also a well-rounded character. She was confident, out-going and headstrong...but she was vulnerable and sensitive at times too. A lot of books I've read in the past have featured female characters that are written as so strong, that they're devoid of human qualities like fear and insecurity. Holland was a complex character. I also liked the fact that although she pursued athletics, she also had ambitions to study journalism. Holland is not only an incredible athlete, but she also writes a music blog, writes for her school newspaper and loves glam rock music. I liked that she was interested in other things. She didn't feel like a stereotype. She had a lot of different elements to her character that was very realistic. Can I also just say she has brilliant taste in music? Breaking Benjamin was mentioned in this book. They're one of my favourite bands and they're so underrated. There was also Audioslave, Aerosmith, Linkin many amazing bands! I discovered 80s-90s rock when I was 16 and listened to SO many of these I could totally relate to Holland's love for this genre of music! 

I really liked Wes as well, although I didn't love him initially. As Wes was Holland’s coach, he gave her a tough love attitude, which I didn’t like at first. He was constantly pushing the team to be better, but at first I didn’t like the condescending, crass way he in which he tried to motivate them them. That being said, I soon realised that was just his coaching style. When him and Holland became something more, he was so good to Holland. He was caring, protective, supportive...and I loved how sweet he was to her. I also liked that he wasn't a caricature of a teenage male athlete. He loved music, reading and painting. I really liked that he was interested in other things as well, as that made him all the more realistic.

There were several side characters as well, such as Carter, Hunter and Jesse, Holland's three brothers. She also had two best friends, Cora and Morgan, who were lovely and supportive. I really liked Holland's brothers and I enjoyed the dynamics between the brothers and Holland. 

The other characters didn't feature as much as Holland and Wes, as Cold Day in the Sun was predominantly about their romance. This leads me onto the second point...
Familial relationships and friendship! I really liked the relationship between Holland and her brothers. I have an older brother and it's the best. I really appreciate it when books have strong sibling dynamics. Holland is closest to her oldest brother, Hunter. I loved how he commented on her blog, encouraged her to never give up, and discussed music with her. I liked how Carter, Jesse, and Holland played on the same team and had a common interest that united them. Carter, Holland's older brother, was protective of Holland but not overly so. Jesse was her younger brother, and I would've liked more scenes with him in as I don't really feel like I know Jesse all that much. That being said, I really enjoyed reading about Holland's relationship with her brothers. 

I liked that Holland's mom featured in this book, as absent parents are a trope in YA that I am tired of. The mom would call Holland to make sure she was okay and chastise her for certain things. I really liked that this was shown! Way too often YA books have parents that literally just don't care, which isn't realistic for a large majority of people! 

Holland also had two female best friends, Cora and Morgan. I'm so glad Holland had female friends. In books I've read previously, the sporty girl who spends a lot of time with guys has no female friends, which also isn't that realistic. I liked that despite Holland being very athletic and on a boys' sports team, she still had female friends. However, I do think Cora and Morgan could've had more depth and their friendship did, in my opinion, require slightly more development. 
The romance is the core aspect of the story. This book is a romance book, and I loved it1. It was only while reading this book that I realised most of the books I've read recently  haven't been solely focused on romance...I've missed that! I know a lot of people aren't keen on romance playing the central part in a YA novel, but I LOVE romance in books, so this was right up my alley! I really liked the romance. Wes and Holland went from hating each other to loving each other. Guys, this is one of my favourite tropes. I was there for it. Wes and Holland's romance was sizzling. Their banter was on fire. Their love of music, food and classic movies (hello, The Princess Bride) made my heart happy. The romance was fluffy, sweet yet sizzling, and filled with brilliant banter. I absolutely adored the romance.
I LOVED THE PLOT. I was scared I wasn't going to love the story line, as I have zero interest in sports. That being said, I really enjoyed the hockey aspect. In fact, it fascinated me. I loved reading about Holland's diligence in her training and her passion for the sport. I loved reading about her dynamics with her team. When I was younger I was intrigued by the ballet world: the intense training, the long hours of practicing, the dynamics between members of the dance teams...this reminded me of my interest in the lives of athletes. I really admire people who are so dedicated to a sport.

I loved the music, blogging and journalism aspect too and all it brought to the story. I loved Holland's blog posts about music (especially music that I was in LOVE with at one point of my life). I loved how music brought Holland and Wes together. I loved reading about Holland's desire to study journalism and her passion for writing. Lastly, I loved the romantic plot in this book. It was the central thing and I loved it. In fact, I couldn't put it down because of the romance. That's another thing I want to mention, this book was so fun and easy to read. I loved reading about the developing romance between Holland and Wes; I loved reading Holland's blog posts and her music references. I sped through this book. There was something about it that made me not want to put it down.
I LOVED THE SNIPPETS OF TEXT MESSAGES! I loved the mention of social media! Social media plays such a large role in most young adults' lives these days, so I really appreciated the mention of Twitter and Instagram, especially the havoc they can cause if an image goes viral. I also absolutely adored the text message conversations between Wes and was adorable. 

I also loved the atmosphere. You have to read this book in winter. There are blizzards and coffee and watching movies while it snows outside...I loved the atmosphere of this novel. It really added a whole other dimension to this winter love story.

This book made me smile! There were a few moments I caught myself giggling, often as Wes and Holland's interactions. I love it when books can make me smile! 
 I only have two qualms about this book. The first thing is the amount of swearing Cold Day in the Sun contained. The characters swore a lot. And it wasn't swearing when they were angry/ was random swearing. I don't mind if a book contains some swearing, especially in emotional situations, as that's realistic for a lot of people. However, the amount of "f" words that were was excessive and it did decrease my overall enjoyment of the book.

Secondly, I sometimes felt like the feminism was a little bit over the top. Holland would freak out about quite a few things that were said, and I just didn't think it was always necessary to make such a big deal out of some things. The feminism was a bit much at times, but I'm glad this book highlighted the gross sexism and harassment that occurs for female athletes. I'm also glad that Holland told her coach about the degrading things that were said to her, as it needed to be dealt with. I'm glad she recognised the importance of speaking out and that she was supported when she did speak out.

Cold Day in the Sun was an atmospheric winter read that featured a sizzling romance, a strong-willed protagonist, and a fascinating plot featuring music, hockey, and journalism. Cold Day in the Sun is also a nostalgic ode to glam metal, a love letter to hockey, and a voice that broadcasts the sexism and harassment that plagues female athletes. If you're looking for a winter read that will leave you feeling content and warm, look no further than Cold Day in the Sun!

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes
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- Swearing 
- Blasphemy
- Slut-shaming/verbal harassment
[Quotes are taken from the ARC, so they are subject to change.]

His eyes say everything I'm feeling: There are too many people in this room. I wish it could just be the two of us. 
"Dutch, when you go down there for that interview, I want you to remember that you're talented and you work hard and you deserve to be on this team every single day. When you're on the ice, you're - you're this force. Powerful. Smart. You're on of the best, Dutch, and all you have to do it tell your story. The rest will take care of itself." - SEE HOW SUPPORTIVE WES IS?! So cute. 
"Refuse to lose. Whatever it takes."