For Alex Santos Garcia, the Arizona Raptors are a second family. His own boisterous and loving family adores him to no end and with the Raptors he’s found camaraderie on the ice. It’s hard since Alex’s best friend, Henry, was nearly killed by a fellow teammate in a drunk driving incident, but Henry has survived and he’s making a slow recovery. Everything seems perfect except Alex is hiding his sexuality from himself, from his deeply Catholic family, and from the world.
Sebastian Brown has come from Britain to help the Arizona Raptors establish their sense of identity as they rebuild into a hockey team worth cheering for. But his attraction to Alex is unexpected and intense. Alex wants a relationship with Sebastian, but that means admitting his sexuality and embracing that aspect of himself. It won’t be easy and Alex may end up losing the family he so loves.
Across the Pond is the second in the Arizona Raptors series and while you don’t have to read these books in order, things will be more enjoyable if you do. Alex is generally a strong character and one whose struggles read as believable. He’s a Latin man in a culture that values masculinity and from a devoutly religious family. Acknowledging one’s sexuality under those circumstances has to be unbelievably hard and embracing it is something altogether more challenging. So the pressures that Alex is under have weight and validity here. Unfortunately, Sebastian feels like a blank slate, just a stand in character to serve as the supportive and loving boyfriend, but one without much personality of his own. His backstory is minimal and I never felt like I really understood who he was as a character.
The real sticking point with Across the Pond is the weak relationship between Alex and Sebastian. Part of that stems from Sebastian’s lack of definition as a character, but the larger issue is that so much of the romance between these two seems to take place off page. Time passes and we’re told of moments in their evolving relationship, but the bulk of it isn’t on page so there’s nothing that reads as developed or very solid. It’s hard to really cheer for a couple when you don’t get much access to their story. None of the depth we see in Alex’s character makes it to the romance itself and, as a result, this part of the book really lacked substance.
Across the Pond is a decent runner up to the first Arizona Raptors book, Coast to Coast, but it lacks much needed relationship scaffolding and the depth to really allow Alex and Sebastian a chance to shine.