Review: Restraint by Mari Carr

I was excited to dive into “Restraint,” the first book in Mari Carr’s new Stingrays Hockey series. As a fan of hockey romances, I was eager to see how this one would stack up. While the book was a fun and quick read, it didn’t entirely meet my expectations.

Plot Summary:

“Restraint” introduces us to Erika, an ER doctor, and Blake, a hockey player and notorious playboy. Living in the same building, Erika and Blake are best friends, though their relationship becomes complicated when Blake helps Erika with her “orgasm problem.” Despite their physical intimacy, Erika is determined to keep their relationship platonic since Blake doesn’t do relationships and she doesn’t do casual. However, their bond is tested when they find a stray dog and decide to co-parent it. As they spend more time together, they struggle to deny their growing feelings for each other.

What Worked:

  1. Engaging Characters:
  • Erika and Blake are both likable and relatable. Their dynamic is entertaining, particularly as they navigate the blurred lines of their friendship.
  • Blake’s jealousy when Erika starts dating someone else adds an interesting twist, highlighting his deeper feelings for her.
  1. Unique Premise:
  • The co-parenting of a stray dog as a plot device is a charming and unique touch that brings the characters closer in a natural way.
  • The inclusion of Blake’s playboy past and Erika’s commitment to her career adds depth to their characters and their reluctance to commit.
  1. Light-Hearted Fun:
  • The book is a quick, fun read with plenty of humor and light-hearted moments. Blake and Erika’s denial of their feelings is both frustrating and amusing, keeping the reader engaged.

What Could Have Been Better:

  1. Pacing and Depth:
  • Some parts of the story felt slow, with scenes that didn’t add much to the overall plot. A tighter narrative could have made for a more engaging read.
  • Erika’s character, while strong and independent, could have been more developed beyond her workaholic nature. Similarly, Blake’s transformation from playboy to committed partner felt rushed towards the end.
  1. Secondary Characters:
  • Doug, Erika’s love interest, wasn’t fleshed out enough to create substantial conflict. His character felt more like a plot device than a genuine rival for Erika’s affection.
  1. Single POV Limitation:
  • The story is told from Erika’s perspective, which limits our understanding of Blake’s thoughts and feelings. A dual POV would have enriched the narrative, especially during Blake’s realization that he wants to be all in with Erika.


“Restraint” offers a fun, light-hearted romance with a unique twist on the friends-to-lovers trope. While it didn’t entirely hit the mark for me, the engaging characters and amusing dynamic between Erika and Blake make it an enjoyable read. Fans of hockey romances and light, quick reads will likely appreciate this story.

I’m still excited for the Stingrays Hockey series and look forward to the next book, hoping for a more in-depth exploration of the characters and their relationships. “Restraint” is a good start, but I’m hoping the next installment will deliver more of the depth and excitement I crave in a sports romance.

Book Stats:
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Series: Stingray Hockey
Tropes: hockey-romance, close-proximity, neighbors, friends to lovers
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