The Harrisburg Railers have decided as a team to support the relationship between Coach Jared Madsen and player Tennant Rowe and their decision to come out publicly. But no one is foolish enough to believe all their fans will receive the announcement with open arms. Which is why they’ve hired Layton Foxx to manage the professional relations storm that threatens to develop. Layton doesn’t know much about hockey, but he’s determined to do right by Ten and Mads, even though it means confronting his past and a ton of emotional pain.
Adler Lockhart is starting his first season with the Railers and struggling to find his place. He tends to mask his nervousness with stupid jokes and ends up looking like a jackass more often than not. He was raised by servants and uses his wealth to display his affection the only way he knows how. And if he had his way, he’d shower Layton Foxx with a thousand gifts. But Layton has been badly hurt and it will take patience and gentleness to convince him that Adler is a man worth keeping.
First Season is the second book in the Harrisburg Railers series. I actually enjoyed First Season a bit more than the first book, Changing Lines. Overall, the book felt a shade more cohesive and it’s purpose more formed. We get to see plenty of Ten and Mads, who were introduced in the first book, but it’s really Layton and Adler who steal the show. Layton comes off, at first, as something of a jock hater and a poor fit for someone tasked to handle a rowdy bunch of hockey players. But we discover that he has a history of significant abuse and his fear suddenly makes a lot more sense. Adler is the typical rich kid whose parents were always off jet setting around the world instead of raising their child. He desperately wants to be a part of a family and his genuine devotion to those he cares about is endearing. I felt both characters were, for the most part, well rendered. A little further depth to each of them would have been great, as I felt there was always just a little something missing from their relationship. It isn’t enough to detract overly from the story or the characters though. I would have also enjoyed reading about more action on the ice. So much of the story takes place out of the rink, but given the nature of this series, more hockey can’t be a bad thing!
The only downside to First Season was the pacing. There are times it seems to roar by and you’re really into the story. But there are also several occasions where it drags a tad. These moments tend to be brief, but they do stick out in an otherwise smooth flowing story. And they never occur when Adler and Layton are on the page together. They are truly a couple that works, perhaps even more so than Ten and Mads.
First Season is an excellent follow up to Changing Lines and solidifies this series as a must read for anyone who enjoys hockey or a sweet romance between strong men. There is plenty of light angst, but it isn’t so heavy to leave the reader feeling morose. Overall First Season is a fun and engaging book and recommended to anyone who enjoys sports themed romances…and even those who don’t will find plenty to like here.