Brent “Henny” Henderson is an up-and-coming forward in pro hockey. He is also closeted—sort of. Henny never really came out on his last team, but rumors and an unfortunate circumstance had pretty much confirmed his sexuality to the players on the Seattle Thunder. To say things got tense is an understatement. The vitriol he suffered made it imperative that Henny keep his sexuality 100% secret now that he has been traded to the Sioux Falls Martens, a rival team.
Matt Doherty is captain of the Martens and he is pleasant and pushy, by turns. And, wow, is he attractive to Henny, who is committed to his celibacy project. At least until…who knows. Probably until he can gather the courage to come out. The whole team is chill and a big fun family to each other. One player immediately lets Henny know he’d heard the rumors, while assuring him that this team is different, nicer, than the Thunder. Henny wants desperately to fit in, and he seems to. He gets pranked and helps pull pranks with Matt, who often crashes at his house. Matt’s been tasked with babysitting a rookie who has a way with the ladies often and all night long. But Matt’s interest goes beyond teammate bonding, perhaps. That includes making joint meals and ensuring Henny’s favorite tea is stocked in the clubhouse.
This budding friendship strains Henny’s resolve to keep his sexuality a secret. He can’t admit to having a giant crush on his team captain, can he? And, what about the bad blood with the Thunder players who seek to humiliate Henny whenever they play? Does Matt return his admiration? What if he doesn’t—will Henny need to move on to another team?
For me this story was a bit of a miss. I didn’t feel a lot of romantic tension between Henny and Matt, who is a very cuddly man. He sends a lot of mixed signals. Likewise, the coming out story was flat. Henny’s fear of discovery drove so much of the tension, yet it was virtually unresolved, despite Henny’s sexuality seeming to be one of the most poorly kept secrets in the story. Henny’s timidness, though he appears to have boundless support, is excruciating. The resolution of the book brings a little bit of heat as he and Matt do connect, but it all seemed pretty nonchalant. There were so many hints and avenues for real growth for the characters, so the ending left me wanting. I’ve read a lot of M/M hockey romance and this one was lackluster and rather forgettable by comparison.