Alex Fanning has lived and breathed hockey his entire life. His dream has been to make it the NHL and when the goalie for the Seattle Cascades is out due to injuries sustained while drunk driving, Alex gets his shot. But Alex has to hide in plain sight as he is half vampire and the sport is looking to ban Paranormals from play. Alex is also gay and he feels in the world of professional hockey that is two strikes against him.
Sasha Petrov is the star defenseman for the Cascades and it was his goalie best friend who was injured and he resents Alex for taking his place. Immediately, the two get off to a rough start, but underneath the hostility lies attraction. Alex and Sasha slowly make their way to friendship and so much more that lies underneath, but Alex has to keep all of his secrets, and there are those that don’t want him to succeed.
This book sounded really great to me with a paranormal world within the world of professional sports and a half-vampire goalie. However, there was a lot missing for me with this book, and ultimately it was not a satisfying read by the conclusion. Alex is beyond excited to have been called up the NHL, even if it is on a trial basis. He has a good friend, Carter, on the team and Carter is the only one that knows both of Alex’s secrets. Alex and Sasha get off to a heated start where there is the misplaced animosity that Sasha feels for Alex being there, as well as the attraction the men feel for each other. Sasha’s scent is intoxicating to Alex and, for the first time, he has a more difficult time controlling his paranormal side.
The book mainly deals with Alex trying to keep his secrets in order to play hockey and the longing the men feel for each other. When the men meet, there is some initial miscommunication and misdirection and then they are ordered by their coach to settle their differences. We are told the men are attracted to each other, but a lot of it never came off the page for me.
There is absolutely no world building here and we never learn anything about Alex. We are not told of his background and we learn nothing about his half-vampire heritage. Alex needs to feed and he has to have secret meetings in order to do this and the fake girlfriend trope is used. But when things aren’t going well and Alex has physical setbacks, there is not one other vampire he encounters and he has no one to talk to that might be able to offer assistance with his issues. There are other Paranormals besides vampires, but Alex has no way of knowing who they are and he was completely on his own and there was no explanation given of the paranormal world.
The fated mates trope comes into play as well, but it seemed that Alex wasn’t aware of this either and had no idea about a lot of things he needed to do to keep himself healthy. There was a lot of push and pull between Alex and Sasha and while they wanted to give in to their attraction, there were also scenes of the men literally running away from each other when they became upset or overwhelmed. There were scenes of the injured goalie seeking retaliation and the looming issue of a vote on Paranormals playing in the NHL that was the cause for a lot of Alex’s anxiety that was brushed aside at the end. The ending is tentative as some of these issues are still in play, but since Alex had Sasha, he wasn’t as bothered by them anymore. This book is listed as the first in a series and maybe some of these answers will be explored in a future book, but this book on its own had too much that was missing and not explained for it to work for me.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.