Penalty Shot is sadly the final installment in the Hat Trick series and continues to follow Alex and Simon as they navigate life, school, their relationship, and all of the extra things that make up a young couple’s lives. The story builds on the previous novels and must be read in order, and this review may contain spoilers. That being said, you can read the last paragraph where I strongly encourage you to pick up the series.
As Alex and Simon prepare for the upcoming season with the Wolverines, they are approached by a gangly young man asking them to coach the hockey team he is pulling together. All TJ wants to do is to play hockey, goalie to be precise, but the league sees the gay and shut him out.
The team is set, a mix of LGBT players who love the game. With Alex and Simon, their friend Hilary, and teammates Trent and Danny there to help the fledgling team, things quickly start to gel. Strangely, the fly in the ointment has nothing to do with the team, but rather with Alex’s leg, which inexplicably falls asleep without warning. The team doctor tries treating the issue but it only gets worse.
Between school, playing and coaching hockey, work placements, and lack of sleep, Alex and Simon are kept busy. Simon also ends up helping TJ and fellow teammate Bryan as they navigate a new relationship, and all the while, Alex’s leg troubles come and go without explanation. It all comes to a head when Alex collapses on the ice. The team plays on, but Alex’s fate is on everyone’s mind.
You know how at the beginning of the review I said “…sadly the last installment”? Well I wasn’t kidding. Having spent many hours with Simon, Alex, and all of their friends and family, I feel bereft now that it is over.
One of my favorite words to describe a storyline arc is organic, and from beginning to end, organic is exactly what the Hat Trick books were. It is also the perfect word to describe the progression of Simon and Alex’s relationship up to this point, which hasn’t always been perfect, with the boys having their ups and downs, just like in life.
There is such a feeling of continuity from beginning to end, in every respect. The growth exhibited by Simon, Alex, and all of their friends and family felt authentic, especially because the trials and tribulations they experienced were not over the top. I like a certain amount of realism in my fiction, and that is what I got out of the series, two guys who fell in love, struggled, persevered, and in the end, succeeded where others may have failed.
Although I got the meaning of the terms “C” and “D,” I did have to stop and search “IR” (injured reserve) and would have liked the acronym explained at least once so as not to pull me out of the story. Now I’m not saying that I didn’t know what the “I” stood for, but not knowing the “R” bugged me. I am also not adverse to first person narration, but did occasionally forget that the story was being told from Simon’s POV.
I have no doubt that I will revisit Simon, Alex, and the whole gang one day in the future, and hope that even if you, like me, are not a hockey fan, that you will give this fantastic series a chance.
Hat Trick: Reunion
Twenty years after the Falcons, including Simon, Alex, Leo, Matt, and others broke a 14-year losing streak against County, Central High is having a gala reunion to celebrate that and coach Archer’s retirement. The reunion is packed with activity, as well as good and bad news.
I have loved every short story Adams has created to fill gaps that we the reader did not think of. Only twice in the series did I cry, and reading Reunion was one of those times. If I had one criticism it would be that this short story was too short, I wanted more.