Being a professional hockey player is exactly what Gabe has always wanted. There is nothing like skating and being on the ice. Being the first out hockey player was never in his plans and getting involved with a teammate was never on his radar.
Dante is newer to the sport and a bit wilder than Gabe. Going out drinking after games and attaching himself to the many female fans in his path is his usual pattern. For the most part, Gabe overlooks his antics, and looking at Dante for too long may just give away his attraction anyway.
When a tabloid outs Gabe, his life on the ice and off suffers tremendously. With the media constantly on his back and opponents talking trash, Gabe loses his focus. The last person he expects to be there for him is Dante. Gabe knows nothing good can possibly come from sleeping with a teammate, especially when Gabe develops feelings for Dante as well. When the team captain gets injured, Gabe has to step up and lead his team. With so much going on, Gabe cannot possibly be looking in every direction at once and his secret relationship with Dante cannot stay a secret forever.
Attention all hockey fans, for this is a book about hockey. Hockey drills, hockey practice, pre-season, regular season, game tape, trades, coaches, travel, locker rooms, and playoffs. Hockey is the first and foremost main character in this book. The authors love hockey and they explain this in the opening Hockey 101 with hockey basics, in the afterword, and with the A-Z glossary of hockey terms. This is also an ensemble piece. While Gabe is our narrator and POV character, the story revolves around many hockey players, their families, and then, mixed in with all of this, is a relationship between Gabe and Dante.
The relationship between Gabe and Dante is somewhat of an unemotional account. Gabe thinks Dante has great assets and is attracted to him, but doesn’t seem to like him much at first. Dante is five years younger than Gabe and Gabe isn’t into what he sees as Dante’s childish antics. Then, all of a sudden he says he is in love with Dante. The move from attraction to love is not played out well as most of what we are shown is simply attraction. Gabe has spent so long in the closet and has never had a relationship. So, he doesn’t know how to have one. All of a sudden he winds up with a boyfriend and it’s like the whole thing just snuck up on him. Dante is there with him all of the time and Gabe is really clueless. These guys don’t talk about anything having to do with their own relationship at all. One day Dante is sleeping with female fans, then he and Gabe are having sex and Dante says he is bisexual. Gabe doesn’t know if or when Dante will want to be with him again, what Dante is thinking or feeling, and he certainly doesn’t bring any of it up. We do not get any of Dante’s POV so there was never any idea of what Dante was thinking or really a clear understanding of who he was and what his needs really were.
The book is written by two authors and they do a seamless job of having one voice. The writing is solid and there is a good sense of what it is like to live as a professional hockey player. There are well written sports page write-ups along the way that help to move the story forward in a contemporary manner. The area that lacked overall for me is the relationship between Gabe and Dante. Their lack of communication for a good portion of the book left the book being solidly rooted as a story about hockey with a few side stories along the way. I like sports and I can find something interesting in just about any sport. But, for the genre this book finds itself in and the way it is billed as a romantic relationship, is a bit misleading as it is so heavily steeped in hockey. If you are interested in this book it is important to note that the main relationship here is the one the players are having with their sport.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.