Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 3.75 stars
Narrators: Alexander Cendese, Iggy Toma
Length: 8 hours, 4 minutes
As another relationship comes to an end, Seth Grant can’t help but feel like something is wrong with him. His girlfriends all seem to think he is too needy. He doesn’t have much interest in sex. Not to mention, for some reason, everyone assumes he’s gay. Seth would love a relationship, but he never seems to be the one that anyone wants. With a professional hockey player as his twin brother, Seth is used to being overlooked and now he is feeling even more at loose ends. So Seth decides it might be worth doing a little more exploration and joins a chat app to see if he can figure out what he wants and connect with someone before jumping into a relationship.
Richard Cohen never thought much about the fact that he kissed his best friend in high school. He figured it is just one of those things people did, until his teammates on the CU hockey team started teasing him about being oblivious. But when he finds out his best friend is actually gay, it makes Cohen rethink whether there is more to his sexuality than he realized. He decides to explore a little by chatting with some people online to see if he can figure out if his interest in his friend was a one-time thing, or something more.
Seth and Cohen end up talking on the app and have a connection right away. They form an immediate friendship, but there is a spark between them as well. The guys decide to keep things anonymous, as both men are wary of sharing their identities while they are still exploring things. As they get to know one another better, Seth and Cohen find themselves talking all the time and coming to really bond with one another. Cohen is ready to meet in person, but Seth is still wary. He knows Cohen plays hockey at a local college and therefore will likely know his famous brother, and Seth is tired of competing with Foster. But Seth is also coming to better understand his own sexuality and realizing that he is demisexual. After so many relationships fell apart, he is worried that meeting Cohen too soon is going to ruin what they have together. Both men can’t help but worry that their feelings for one another online won’t work once they meet in person.
As the months go by, Seth and Cohen grow ever closer. Little do they realize that their lives overlap and that they actually know one another in real life. Once the men finally figure out their online connection, it gives them a chance to explore their relationship in person. Things are great between them, but they still face coming out, not to mention an uncertain future as Cohen gets ready to graduate. But the men have found something special together, and with a little work, they can make sure it lasts.
Goal Lines & First Times is the third book in Eden Finley and Saxon James’ CU Hockey series and I think it is my favorite one so far. We have met both of these guys in prior books, as Seth is Foster’s twin brother from Power Plays and Straight As and Cohen plays for the CU hockey team. Some of the basic set up happens in earlier books, such as seeing the scene where Cohen tells his teammates about kissing his friend in Face Offs and Cheap Shots. However, all that said, I do think this one stands alone, though you will miss knowing the side characters who play a big role here.
I have been interested in Seth since the first book, as it was clear there was a lot more to his story, so I was eager to pick this one up. It was obvious that his family sort of overlooks him in favor of focusing on his superstar brother. Cohen has been a regular side character, though I found he comes across quite differently here. Previously, he is sort of the goofy, somewhat dim, “bro” kind of guy. He is one of the ringleaders for the “captain challenge” in the last book that I found annoying at times. In this book, he occasionally comes across as a touch unaware, but much sweeter and more sensitive than he has been portrayed in the past. This made him a much more likable character, but I just had to sort of re-orient my thoughts about him.
The book divides roughly into two parts, the first where the guys are interacting online and then the second after they meet in person. I enjoyed this format because it really gives both Seth and Cohen a chance to figure themselves out before they are jumping into a physical relationship with each other. In Cohen’s case, it is coming to recognize that he is bisexual and exploring his interest in men. For Seth, he is really coming to understand himself in a new way, not just that he is pansexual, but also that he is demisexual. The latter, in particular, really liberates Seth as it helps him understand so much about his past relationships and why he often struggled. As he comes to recognize what he needs in order to experience sexual attraction, Seth stops feeling like something is “wrong” with him and begins to recognize that he just needs to form an emotional connection before he is interested in something sexual. I think the authors do a nice job here really exploring both of these men coming to better understand their sexuality and what they need and want from a relationship. At times, it does feel like this section of the book goes on a little long before the guys ultimately meet. But I did really enjoy watching their relationship develop and that bond forming between them.
There is a point when one of the guys puts the pieces together to realize that the person they have known online all these months is also someone he knows in real life. I appreciated that this doesn’t drag on and once one figures it out, he quickly tells the other and we move onto seeing them together as a couple. The story is a nice combination of sweet and super high heat as the guys explore the physical side of things together after only talking online. It also gives them a chance to share their new relationship and come out to their friends and family. There is a great intensity between these guys that I really enjoyed. It is also fun to see how things things develop for them with regard to their connections with friends, as well as their future plans. The story introduces us to a new character whose story is up next, and so I am looking forward to that one as well.
I listened to this one in audio, as with the first two books. My feelings here are pretty much the same as the others. Overall, the audio is solid, though the dual narration can be jarring as Cendese and Toma sound so different. I also find that each of their voices for the main characters across the books so far sound very similar, so when those past characters reappear in other books, it gets a little muddled. Sometimes old characters seem to have new voices so as not to sound too much like new main characters. It was also kind of odd for me that Cendese narrates Foster in his book, and Toma narrates Seth in this one. The guys are supposed to be twins, so even though they are not identical, it seemed a little strange for their POV narrators to be different. I also found that the epistolary style of the first part of the story can be a little bit of a challenge in audio format. The guys spend much of the time talking via text, which means the narrators have to give dialog tags to indicate who is “speaking.” So while when reading, your brain can kind of skip over these, when listening, the narrators have to keep saying who is talking before each line of the text. So I did find this one didn’t come together quite as well as the others for me, but it was still enjoyable in audio format. The narrators get the energy and the tone of the book right and I have enjoyed listening to this series.