Jensen is trying not to get too excited, but he might finally have a place with the Littleford Fowl in the junior hockey league as a goalie. He knows it’s only temporary, as he’s covering for an injured player, but Jensen can transfer to the local college and play hockey while continuing his studies. Finishing school is important to Jensen as he has no intention of ever being homeless again. Jensen is proud of who he is and while he knows hockey isn’t the most inclusive sport, Jensen has no intention of hiding that he’s gay, but he’s keeping a low profile.
Law dreams of playing professional hockey and the junior league puts him one step closer to that dream. His relationship with his parents is on the frosty side and Law knows it will never get much better. Law locks onto Jensen the moment he sees him enter the arena. Jensen is so easy to look at and his skills on the ice and his love of hockey match how Law feels about the sport. Law doesn’t even know if Jensen would be interested in him, but that doesn’t stop Law’s imagination from going wild about the guy. But Law realizes that Jensen is fiercely independent and has trust issues and while Law needs to make his move, he also needs to prove to Jensen that he’s behind him all the way.
There is a good story here and there is a lot of story here as well. Keeping Hope features Jensen and Law as they play hockey in the junior leagues while attending college and sorting through attraction and a lot of social issues.
We meet Jensen as the story opens as he is offered a spot on the junior hockey team. He’s running out of money, but the spot on the team comes with the promise of a billet family that he can stay with, but Jensen knows he will be harder to place since he is gay. Jensen keeps his head down around his team—literally. While Jensen has told his coach that he is gay, he hasn’t told his teammates and he’s afraid of any fallout if he so much as looks up in the locker room. Law, however, is becoming desperate to get Jensen’s attention.
Jensen keeps everything to himself. He has so many scars from the way he grew up, it’s ingrained into him not to ask for help. He doesn’t want people to look at him and just see the gay, Latino kid and the story explores some of the harsher difficulties he faces. The men become friends and build trust as teammates and Law starts to show Jensen in small and then in large ways that Jensen can count on him. Jensen keeps his attraction locked down tight from the start, but as he begins to trust in Law more, the two of them make for a sweet and unified team both on the ice and off.
The men’s backstory is presented with less depth than I would have liked. We learn a few basics about Jensen’s parents, how Jensen was homeless, and that he now has a father who adopted him. There isn’t much more than that given and there was a lot piled on to create his character, but not enough detail or follow through on much of it. Jensen is also studying Fire Science as he wants to be a firefighter and I felt there was more to that story as well that wasn’t explored. It was the same with Law and his background and family and there were even fewer details given on him. Law also has mental health issues that were introduced, but then left again and there was a lot for both men that was touched on without the adequate depth needed for the topics.
I liked the characters here and Jensen and Law have much to try and handle and navigate as they fall for each other. The end leaves them in a great place and, as this book is listed as the first in the series, I would welcome the opportunity to visit with them again as their journey continues.