Jacob isn’t having the greatest time on the school trip. Planned weeks ago with his ex, it was supposed to be the two of them skiing, snowboarding, or … doing whatever it is one does in the snow. Instead, Jacob’s alone on the uncomfortable bus seat ignoring the chatter of the hockey players behind him. When the bus has a near accident, Jacob finds himself flung from his seat and into the arms of Nick Johnson. The Nick Johnson. Tall, handsome, blonde, and with the bluest eyes Jacob’s ever seen. He’s smitten at once.
Nick likes hockey. He’s been playing it almost forever and is currently captain of the UNY hockey team with offers to go pro. Even so, hockey isn’t all there is in life. Take, for example, the small, slender, delicate, dark-haired young man he’s holding in his arms at the moment. Despite the ribbing of his team mates, Nick can’t help but want to get to know the law student a little better, something made possible by the bus having to make a stop at a nearby motel for the night. A motel with too few rooms, which leads to Nick and Jacob having to share a bed for the night.
What follows is a whirlwind romance as the two young men realize they’re in madly, desperately in love. But sports teams aren’t known for being open minded, and Jacob doesn’t want Nick to come out just to please him. Jacob begs Nick to wait until January, until they know that what they have between them is real before Nick takes the plunge to out himself. Unfortunately, nothing goes as planned, and certain people take offense to the idea of their hockey captain being gay. Both men find their futures are threatened and the news and media outlets are hot on their heels. Nick and Jacob will need all the friends they can get if they’re going to survive this storm.
Jacob is an insecure young man who is more than a little socially awkward and barely knows how to spell the word sport. He has no idea what hockey is, except that maybe there’s ice involved? But he loves Nick. He loves Nick in spite of hockey rather than because of it, which is refreshing for Nick who has lived all his life with puck bunnies chasing him around and rabid fans all but declaring him to be a god. Jacob doesn’t care about that. He cares about Nick.
Jacob is, at first, cautious. Nick’s never been with another boy before and Jacob doesn’t want to push him into something he’s not ready for, or to rush too fast into a new relationship when he’s only a few weeks out of his last one. But the two of them have that instant connection, and it isn’t long before the L-word is being said at every opportunity. Jacob even goes to a hockey game for Nick.
This story reads very like a Young Adult book, for all that it has several graphic sex scenes. The characters are simple with almost no nuance, and the story is stripped down to the most uncomplicated steps. Side characters have the expected reactions to the reveal of Nick’s sexuality. There’s the homophobic team member, the tabloid reporter, the bitter ex … and nothing ever develops past that point. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, but it follows a very expected path with predictable results.
For a YA audience, this is a mild enough book, if you are ok with the graphic sex. The relationship between Nick and Jacob is one of friends as well as lovers, with an emphasis on respecting one another, trusting one another, and communicating with one another. They use condoms, ask for permission, and have a healthy relationship between the two of them.
This story is fine for what it is, but if you’re looking for a book with more complexity and more character or plot development, you may want to pass on this one.