At 19, Ryan Talonovich is a true hockey star. As the best on his college team, he has real and true talent, and hockey is his only focus. Until an accident on the practice rink leads to serious, debilitating injuries. Three surgeries and a month later, Ryan’s sullen and pissed at the world, and he’s feeling as if he’s lost everything. But a chance visit to the rink results in meeting Dante Espinosa, and Ryan’s world changes.
Dante, fresh out of high school, is a speed skater with amazing talent. He doesn’t have a lot of money, and has to scrape and save just to have enough money to pay the club fee to skate and practice. But he has his eye on the prize; he’ll be in the Olympics one day, and nothing is going to stop him. But when Dante meets Ryan, he’s drawn in by the quiet, shy boy.
The two begin a friendship, but there’s so much more to their feelings, right from the start. Dante is out, at least to his mom, but Ryan has never given voice to his orientation. But Ryan is drawn to Dante’s dark good looks and his amazing, bubbly personality. For Dante, he’s willing to take the risk.
With Dante to focus on, Ryan comes out of his shell. He tries harder in PT, and with Dante’s encouragement, finally begins to make a tiny bit of progress. Falling in love is easy for them both. But Dante has to stay focused on his career, and Ryan is determined to help him achieve his goals. It’s not always perfect between them, and the haters in the world are trying to bring them down. But together, they can do anything.
Y’all. This book. When I went looking for a book for this week’s Diverse Books Week challenge, I found this older title by Snyder and was immediately interested. With an MC who uses a wheelchair, as well as a Latino MC, it fit the bill for a diverse story, and I think Snyder did a good job showcasing both. Ryan, in particular, had to come to terms with his limitations following his accident, but also with his abilities. It was a learning curve, to be sure, but the reader was along for the journey. I liked the bit of culture that Snyder showed where Dante was concerned, from his relationship with his mom and his own world view.
Let me start with the absolutely adorable MCs. On the ice, Ryan was confident bordering on arrogant. But in real life, he’s shy, awkward, and not entirely comfortable in his own skin. When hockey is taken from him, he’s got nothing left to bolster his confidence. And then in walks Dante. Dante is beautiful and knows it, but he’s so dang sweet, with just a bit of sass, that he’s not arrogant at all. These guys are drawn to each other from the moment they meet. Not just because of attraction, but because they just click. Dante doesn’t see Ryan’s wheelchair or damaged legs. Or rather, he sees the person behind those things. For Dante, they are just part of Ryan’s whole. And Ryan doesn’t see a poor Latino boy, but rather an extremely talented and kindhearted person.
This book is long. And, to be honest, a bit dated at this point. I believe it was first released in 2010, and there are definitely some references and moments where that shows. But on the whole, it held up well. This story is really about two young guys finding each other and knowing they’ve found their forever, and overcoming their demons, both personal and external, to move toward their future.
The relationship between these guys is really what kept the book going for me. Truthfully, there were moments, scenes, and a few side characters that really grated on my nerves. Ryan’s mother had a good heart, but goodness she irritated me with her high handedness and her attitude at times. Dante liked his boyfriend’s mother far better than I did. The antagonist was a fairly stereotypical, two-dimensional character and I would have liked to see a different twist there, to be honest.
But really. Young love and tons of sweetness. There are a few dark gray moments that give the story some weight, and everything ends with a satisfying conclusion. I will say I appreciated that everything wasn’t magically fixed by the end, but it was hopeful and there’s no doubt that if Ryan and Dante put in the work, they will get their forever. If you’re looking for a new adult book with sweet MCs, then this book is one you should check out,.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Diverse Books Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of six $20 NineStar Press gift cards from the fabulous folks at NineStar Press! Commenters will also be entered to win one of our three amazing Grand Prize book bundles. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on Diverse Books Week here.