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Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

HimWhy I read it:  I was provided with a review copy via the authors.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Ryan “Wes” Wesley and Jamie Canning meet up again for the first time in four years at the NCAA Frozen Four Championship in Boston. They met at “Elites” a spiffy hockey training summer camp they both went to as kids.  Every year, Wes and Jamie hung out together at the camp in Lake Placid and their bond of friendship was strong. 

Wes is gay and out at college but preparing to head back into the closet, at least for a while, when he starts playing for a Toronto NHL team after graduation. He figures he will need to prove himself to the team before he can risk his sexuality becoming known.  His plan is to be celibate for a good long while. Not something he’s looking forward to.  At college, Wes didn’t hide his sexual orientation but he also didn’t flaunt it. It was kind of an open secret and apart from with one of his (straight) buddies on the team, it wasn’t discussed.

Room for More by Beth Ehemann

Room for MoreWhy I read it: I bought this book after the first in the series was a DA Daily Deal.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Four years ago, my dreams were shattered in an instant.

Three months ago, I found something I haven’t had in years.

Hope.

That hope came in the form of a sexy, carefree hockey player named Brody Murphy. He swooped in and won me over with his big heart and the way he cared for me…and my girls. When they look at him, they see the father they’ve never had.

Now, my past and present are colliding and the outcome might just be too much for me to bear. Can I make the right decision when I’ve spent my whole life making the wrong ones?

Warning: Spoilers for book 1 follow.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Brody continues to be his (almost) perfect self, as he and Kacie navigate their new relationship. 

Crossing my arms over my chest, I cocked my head to the side and looked at him skeptically. “Since when does staying home with kids all day interest you?”

He looked over at the girls, who were watching a movie in the living room, and shrugged. “Since them.”

Awwwww.  See? Perfect.

Room for You by Beth Ehemann

Room for youWhy I read it:  This book was a DA Daily Deal a little while back – I bought the two full length books and the novella for $1.00 each.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Four years ago, my dreams were shattered in an instant.

I tried to pick up the pieces and glue them back together the best I knew how, but something was always missing.

A father for my two girls.

But then, Brody Murphy landed on my doorstep, literally. He was a carefree, playful hockey player who barged into my life and messed with my head. He left me more confused than I had ever been.

What if the one thing I thought I needed was the only thing holding me back?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  There is a fair amount of wish fulfilment in this book.  Brody is almost the perfect man.  He’s gorgeous, fit, kind, loves kids, sexy.  He’s even rich.  Every now and then he will do something not quite perfect (but never really egregious – the only thing which got up my nose a little bit was the Ferris Wheel thing – I get his motivation but I thought it was just a bit of a dick move all the same) to put readers off the scent but basically, he’s perfect.

“Holy shit,” Brody muttered from behind me where he stood frozen at the kitchen sink.
My heart rocketed into my throat and stuck there as I spun to face him. “Is that a good holy shit, or a bad holy shit?”
He didn’t respond with his mouth, but his eyes spoke volumes as they raked slowly all the way down my body and back up again. “It’s the best holy shit ever.”
Proudly, I looked down at myself and beamed up at him. “I cleaned up okay, huh? On a scale from one to ten-”
“Six hundred fifty-two.” He interrupted as he stalked over, gripped the back of my head and pressed his mouth to mine hard.

Good answer Brody.

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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