Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story, Novel
It’s bad enough being gay in high school, but for Simon Roberts, being an athlete in his senior year and a star hockey player makes it downright impossible. Simon’s fear of coming out keeps him conflicted and tense, especially with a crush the size of his home State of Pennsylvania on teammate Alex Miller. Man, Simon is all kinds of tense. When Alex makes a move during a post-game pizza-fest in their hotel room, Simon is understandably freaked out, turned on, nervous, and excited.
Alex is also on the senior hockey team, line mates with Simon, and knows Simon’s moves on the ice, but has been observing him off the ice as well. Alex is gay and out, but also admits that it is not widely known. Simon acknowledges he is gay for the first time after he and Alex make out, and although Alex has no intention of pressuring Simon, Simon decides it is time to face the truth, at least on a small scale. With a less than supportive father who focuses all of his attention on Simon’s older brother, Zack, Simon knows that gay is not an option, even if his mother is as supportive as she possibly can be, considering how Simon’s former military father behaves.
Simon comes out to his best friend, Jackson who takes the news in stride. Simon and Alex date, and tell Alex’s parents that they are now boyfriends, with positive results. Simon is still afraid of being discovered but little by little, he is learning to be comfortable with who he is and shares his news with others. Incredible news comes in the form of full hockey scholarships to the University of Michigan and acceptance by the assistant coach that both he and Simon are gay and dating.
Simon and Alex are finding alone time a challenge and while making out one night, they are seen by Zack, who uses the knowledge to further his own twisted agenda, and as a result, Simon is kicked out of the family home by his father. At a loss for what to do, Simon calls Alex who offer him a temporary place to stay on the couch. In the end, an invitation for dinner by team captain to meet his gay brother and his husband leads to a more permanent home for Simon.
The cat is out of the bag and fortunately the majority of team are accepting, including the coach, which is a pleasant surprise. Most of the student body is simply curious, and the few instances of bigotry are unsurprising, but minimal considering their positions on the hockey team. When Simon and Alex are interviewed by the school paper, their story goes national, and they become poster boys for gay athletes, which worries Simon, as he thinks it could threaten their scholarships, regardless of what they were told by the University representative. In addition, Zack and some of his buddies pick a fight with Alex, leading to injuries to their teammates when some guys rush to help, police involvement, and potential repercussions for Simon and Alex’s relationship.
To be honest, this was not the story I was expecting when I selected Hat Trick for review. It was so much more. The gay athlete stereotype is one that needs to continue to be addressed and brought to the forefront. We are seeing more and more examples of gay professional athletes in the media these days which makes Hat Trick a very relevant story of our times. High school is quite possibly the worst environment to come out in, and Adams does an admirable job of addressing the different reactions had by the student body, both in Simon and Alex’s daily lives, but also as star athletes. Adams also takes into account the flack Simon and Alex’s friends are subjected to by the bullies and bigots.
Each chapter began with an article from the school newspaper as a way to introduce the upcoming events in the story. This technique was unique to me and provided a quick hit of information that supplemented the story perfectly, without making the story unnecessarily longer.
Hat Trick is a story truly aimed young adults, with teenage hormones running rampant. Adams uses fade to black for the intimate moments, which shows that the romance is there, but the physical relationship is kept behind closed doors, leaving the boy’s activities to our imaginations. Simon’s mom broaching the subject of sex was hilarious and the scene was well written, showing the discomfort felt by both mom and son. Simon’s veiled answers were consistent with what I would do if my mom had asked “the question.” Another area that Adams excelled in was the use of the age appropriate language by the characters, such as the “hotness.”
The difference in how Simon and Alex deal with the notoriety, and the fallout from the newspaper interview, shows where they are coming from as individuals, and the support they have from their families (or lack thereof), who were realistically portrayed. Is hate too strong a word for Simon’s father, Frank and brother, Zack? I’m thinking no. Seriously, Frank is insane, sexist, homophobic, and volatile, while brother Zack is all Alpha.
I was not really sure about Zack’s motivations as his character was not really dealt with in a way that explained his behaviour, although the other secondary characters had enough dimension to make their actions mesh for me. At one point, Simon became more comfortable with the newspaper article and its ramifications while previously having expressed anxiety. I figured he was trying to be strong for Alex’s benefit but the switch just struck me as being too extreme.
I will admit that I love the M/M sports sub-genre, even though I don’t participate in or watch sports. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I definitely got more out of this book than I was expecting, in terms of the relationship between Simon and Alex, their friends and families, and how being gay does not change who we are and what we can accomplish.
Hat Trick Overtime, A Classic Winter’s Night
In Hat Trick Overtime, Simon and Alex are participating in the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament in Detroit. Having lost their last game, the boys and their team are on their way to find something to eat when Simon spies a park glowing with Christmas lights. Simon convinces Alex to indulge his Christmas light obsession and the boys enjoy a relaxing evening skating under the lit trees to Christmas music. While skating hand-in-hand , Simon and Alex are approached by two huge guys on the ice and old fears are brought to the forefront of their minds.
I really liked this little hit of Simon and Alex now that they are in college. We get to see Simon and Alex in a more casual, comfortable, stress-free environment and are shown examples of the impact their story has had on others. We also see examples of the support and caring of their new teammates/friends on the University of Michigan hockey team.
I am interested to see how this short story ties Hat Trick and Hat Trick II together, but even if it had no other purpose that what I mentioned, it was definitely worth the read.
Hat Trick Overtime is a free short available at All Romance eBooks.