Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau

straightshooterWhy I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  This macho jock has a crooked little secret.

College hockey player Austin Puett is in trouble. Unless he starts treating his flamboyantly gay roommate with respect, he’ll lose his room and his job at Rear Entrance Video. But Austin’s got a not-so-straight secret of his own: nothing turns him on more than insults implying he’s gay—even though he’s definitely not!—and all his old coping methods have stopped working.

Pure desperation drives him to rent a Mischievous Pictures porn flick about straight men tricked into servicing Puck, a male dominant. Instead of letting off steam, though, it just leaves him craving more, more, more, and suddenly, Austin finds himself at Mischievous Pictures Studios for an audition. After all, you can be Gay For Pay and still be straight . . . right?

But meeting Liam Williams, the real person behind Puck, confuses Austin even more. Liam really seems to like him as a person, and Austin likes him back. And while Gay For Pay’s okay, what does it make Austin if he still wants Liam when the cameras aren’t rolling?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’m not sure exactly what to say about this novel. Any review is necessarily the reviewer’s personal reaction to a book but my thoughts about Straight Shooter ended up being a bit more about me than the usual review I write.  The story caused me to examine some things about my own thinking and because it’s my blog and I can and because it’s my honest reaction, that’s partly what I’m going to talk about here.  I like books that make me think and critical thinking works inwardly as well of course.

On the Surface by Kate Willoughby

OntheSurfaceWhy I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  NHL player Tim Hollander lost his temper one time and threw a water bottle at an abusive fan. After “Bottlegate,” he’s traded to the San Diego Barracudas, where he’ll need to keep the bad publicity to a minimum while proving he can still compete with the younger guys on the ice.

Erin Collier is a pediatric nurse who’s never seen a hockey game, but gets in line for Tim’s autograph at a PR event in hopes of impressing the doctor she has a crush on. When an obnoxious fan gets pushy toward Erin, Tim rushes to defend the pretty stranger, throwing a punch in the process.

Grateful for the rescue, Erin agrees to stand by Tim during the resulting press conference and host him at a hospital charity event. Their chemistry is palpable, and soon their lives are intertwined. But Erin doubts a hockey player is capable of anything resembling a real relationship. And if Tim can’t get her to see beyond what’s on the surface, they’ll never last longer than a single season…

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  As an Australian, I have only a rudimentary knowledge of ice hockey.  I have a better idea after reading this book but I still don’t really know what a “line” is.  For what it’s worth (and I realise, it can’t be much) the hockey information in the book sounded authentic and, for the most part, it was delivered in a way that didn’t feel too didactic.  The Ice Hockey for Dummies thing was a nice touch.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit – it was really only toward the end where things lost their lustre just a little for me.  I’m not sure if it was because maybe the book felt a little too long, or whether it was the conflict kind of fizzling out there for a while.  Or maybe I would have liked more time for the conflict to resolve – it felt a little quick to me.  I liked On the Surface very much – Tim is really sweet guy – not perfect – but he falls for Erin really quickly and I liked watching him navigate those waters.

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