Rating: 4.25 stars
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Who doesn’t like a man who can play hockey? In this case, you’re getting two men, who are talented both on and off the ice. Mike and Jason have a history. Mike just retired from the National Hockey League and has returned to his home town. Jason returned many years ago due to an injury on the ice that prohibited him from continuing a hockey career. Instead, he’s coaching the town’s junior hockey team. When Mike returns, memories come flooding back of the relationship they had 15 years ago — a relationship that came to an abrupt end as Mike married and continued his NHL career.
The feelings they once had are still there, and Mike and Jason soon attempt to rekindle that passion. In the meantime, Jason is told some news by one of his players in confidence that leads to some trouble for him. He’s always been in the closet and doesn’t see how his circumstances can change, especially in light of the accusations that are being brought against him. Mike and Jason need to decide if they can weather the storm or if they’re better off apart.
Once again, the sexiness of the sport of hockey only adds to the chemistry that exists between Mike and Jason. They’re two rough, tough as nails guys who only show their vulnerability when it comes to the other person. Jason in particular is a commanding presence. He is training his team to be champions and when he speaks, people listen. It’s all the more sweet when he opens himself up to Mike and is rewarded with his love and tenderness in return. Their relationship is tentative and scary for both of them, but is worth the ups and downs. They can’t stay away from each other, and the explosive sex scenes are able to show this intense level of attraction. It you need a hot read, look no further.
A novella can be tricky. My complaint with this story is that there wasn’t enough, and I don’t think it’s the mere length of the novel that is it’s weakness. From the beginning, we are to accept a past between Mike and Jason that isn’t really thoroughly explained. It’s a lot of history that both of them bring to the relationship, yet it’s easily swept under the rug once the lust returns.
The main conflict of this story is also not developed enough. It is hastily introduced and quickly dismissed, and seems only to exist in order to get Jason to come out of the closet. It didn’t seem entirely realistic, and while the support that Jason receives from the team and the community is sweet, it doesn’t match with the supposed discrimination that exists within the sport that is keeping him in the closet to begin with. The “I’ve been in the closet for 15 years but what the hay! Let’s let it all out of the bag right now!” mentality seemed a convenient way to wrap up the story.
All in all, I really enjoyed this story. It’s short and sexy and a perfect read for when you’re in the mood for some big tough men with soft hearts. Kate Sherwood has long been a favorite author of mine, and this story did not disappoint.