Paul Dyson is the newest player on the Atlanta Thunder. He’s been called up from their farm team and is excited to be playing hockey in the big leagues. Robbie Rhodes already plays for the Thunder, and he most certainly is not excited to have Paul on the team. In fact, he attacks Paul as soon as he can.
It turns out Paul and Robbie had a sexual encounter two years ago while they were playing on opposing teams in college, and Robbie had thought they’d made a real connection…until the next day when Paul called him a f***t and hit him so hard his helmet fell off. Now the two men must learn to get along because they’re playing together, and the team needs them to work together. It’s not long before they begin to fall for each other, but Paul’s so far in the closet he may as well be in Narnia, and Robbie is starting to wonder if coming out and being a role model for young, gay players is what he wants. Can they come up with a compromise, or is their relationship doomed before it has a chance to really begin?
I read and enjoyed City Boy, the first book in the Hot Off the Ice series, so when I saw this one was available, I jumped on it. I’m so pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. Paul and Robbie are wonderful characters and I loved them both. I thought when I started the book that I’d not like Paul. I don’t like hypocrites, and when the “F” word was uttered (Not that one. The one that ends with “t”), I was angry. However, all it took was going back to Paul’s memory of the night he spent with Robbie and I saw why he did what he did.
Paul and Robbie had chemistry to spare. Even in the beginning when Robbie was hitting Paul, it was obvious they shared some strong feelings…anger, shame, lust…just to name a few. Their pull was powerful enough that, even though there were some unresolved issues between them, their fall was relatively fast. That was perfectly fine, though. There was a natural flow to it and it didn’t seem rushed.
Another shining example of their chemistry is the love/sex scenes in the story. Oh my goodness, they were hot! A.E. Wasp really knows what she’s doing. Paul and Robbie were perfect together. Paul had only had “sex” with two women, and he’d only fooled around with Robbie two years before, so Robbie was introducing him to a completely new world. He did this with equal parts heat and tenderness, and it was a joy to read.
There were a few background characters who were important to Country Boy. Paul’s father and sister, Robbie’s parents and a dear family friend, and a few members of the team. Also, Bryce and Dakota from City Boy were back for a few crucial scenes. I liked how they all played their roles without being overwhelming. Paul’s father, I felt, was especially crucial. He was both infuriating and sympathetic, and very nicely written.
I was impressed at the way faith and religious dogma were portrayed. Poor Paul was so tortured and my heart broke for him. I can’t even begin to imagine the agony he felt while being torn between what he was taught and what he was experiencing with Robbie. His sister, the voice of reason, gave him the most simple advice, and even though it took him bit longer, once he followed it, his road to happiness was sealed.
Country Boy’s ending was tidy, if not a little too tidy. It was exactly what I expected, and I was satisfied, but I wish it could have been a little more involved. This did not diminish my enjoyment at all. I think this is a great series and I will most certainly read any future installments. I highly recommend this one.