Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Sean Crisden
Length: 2 hours, 59 minutes
Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks
Vic Kalinski may be a damn good hockey player, but he’s a pretty crap human. He’s bisexual, with a strong preference for men—always no strings. Vic’s playing for a pro team in Boston, but his antics on and off the ice get him sent to the minor league affiliate in upstate New York. It’s punishment, but Vic doesn’t believe it will last all that long. He’s irreplaceable, right? Yeah, he’s been wrong many, many times before.
Arriving as the disgraced prima donna all-star he is, Vic doesn’t plan to make friends—and rather actively cultivates enemies. Alternate captain, Daniel Arou, is a genuine nice guy and the ultimate team player. He’s a bit short for pro hockey, but he has the drive and skills to maybe make it. Dan tries to get Vic on board with the team program, only to be insulted in return. He and Vic settle it like hockey goons do, and it’s the beginning of a grudging attraction for Vic toward Dan. Dan’s closeted, but attracted to Vic as a man—not as a person. He sees the wounded kid Vic never grew out of being, and Dan’s wholesome and giving nature is soon a balm to Vic’s heartbreak.
This is a short and sweet connection story that had a deeper storyline than I had been expecting. Vic makes peace with the demons of his childhood, and he celebrates Dan’s career movement—once he acknowledges that Dan is a good and deserving man—way too good for Vic to get to keep, anyway. Dan’s never going to let Vic get away, though, and their happy ending is guaranteed.
The audio here was as quick and snappy as Vic’s acidic comebacks. Dan has a quieter, comforting tonal quality compared to Vic’s brash voice, and their narration mirrors their opposites-attract romance. Vic’s outer meanness is nothing compared to his own self-disgust, and it takes serious and plentiful loving for Dan to convince Vic he is worth true affection. This personal turnaround leads to Vic being a better teammate—which could spell an end to his purgatory in the minors. But, that’s a little beyond the slice of fiction we get here. The other characters are all well-voiced and graphically rendered. I could nearly see the pulsing veins of Dan and Vic’s long-suffering coach, whose colorful expletives had me laughing aloud. There’s a bit of coming out, but it’s quiet and not public; not a big deal is made of it.
I’d happily follow Vic and Dan for days and days. They got some true chemistry, and the makings of a lifetime of love.