Spoiler Alert! There’s no way to review this novella without giving away significant spoilers for past events in the Harrisburg Railers series. If you’re up to date with the series, proceed. If not, make sure you read the series in order.
A violent on-ice attack gave Tennant Rowe a significant brain injury, one that left him in pain and struggling to think and speak as he once did. It may have even robbed him of his career in hockey. The only constant is his boyfriend, Jared “Mads” Madsen. Jared has supported him every step of the way and with Jared at his side, Ten knows he can beat the odds.
Mads is determined that Ten will be given every chance at recovery, even if it means being apart for weeks while Ten goes to the best rehab facility in the country. But Ten isn’t the only one dealing with stress and for Mads, holding it together is taking everything he’s got. The one thing he knows for sure is that he and Ten are made for one another, no matter what challenges the future may hold.
This was the novella I’ve been waiting for! I was a bit frustrated with the Harrisburg Railers series when it seemed to end abruptly with Ten’s injury on the ice. It appeared the series was done and the story would continue, albeit tangentially, with the new series, Owatonna U. So I felt we’d abandoned two critical characters at a huge moment in their fictional lives and with Neutral Zone readers finally get the resolution we’ve been waiting for.
At its core, Neutral Zone is the story of two men, deeply in love but facing a life altering event. Ten’s injuries are far from mild and he’s still trying to regain his sense of self as he begins his recovery. There’s never any doubt of he and Jared’s love, though, and it’s that connection that really makes this story work. They truly care for one another and their trials are more believable because of this.
The medical side of Ten’s injuries are handled in a realistic way and while we’re cheering for his recovery, there’s no magical pill that makes everything better. If Ten wants to return to the ice, he’ll have to battle back and that layer of realism gives this novella more to offer than most.
There are no huge action scenes or pulse pounding hockey action here. Instead, it’s just a sweet, straightforward love story with a bit of Christmas flare. But fans of the series will be happy with the story that Neutral Zone offers and it gives the reader all the warm fuzzies we want from old friends at the holidays.