Noah Viklund and Tommy Tremblay play on rival NHL hockey teams. But they are more than just team rivals, as Noah can’t stand Tommy and blames him for an injury to one of Noah’s good friends last season. While Zed may have forgiven Tommy, especially since it was a clean hit, Noah can’t move past it. He finds Tommy arrogant and reckless and wants nothing to do with the younger man.
When Noah and Tommy end up paired up for an off season event, however, the anger and frustration that exists between them ends up turning into some major sexual tension. The guys can’t resist some explosive hate sex that leads to a lot more anger-fueled lust. But as the pair continue their hook ups, what started out as nothing but animosity with some intense sex begins to turn into something more. Noah realizes how much he loves it when Tommy lets go for him, and Tommy finds himself fueled by Noah’s praise. But finding a way to go from enemies and rivals to something more isn’t easy. Noah, in particular, is having some trouble transitioning their relationship. Yet the men have fallen for one another and there is a chance for something real between them. Now Noah and Tommy have to take a chance that they can be true friends and lovers, and they may just find happiness together.
Open Ice Hit is an engaging sport romance with a full on, enemies to lovers vibe. If you are a fan of growly hate sex, this book is for you, as there is a lot of it. Noah is still furious at Tommy for what Noah considers a dangerous hit that caused injury to his teammate, Zed. The fact that Zed doesn’t hold Tommy accountable doesn’t matter to Noah, he still hates Tommy. But also, he finds Tommy incredibly hot and can’t stop checking out Tommy’s Instagram thirst trap photos. So we can tell from the beginning that there is some chemistry here, though there is a very slow burn to get them from enemies to even friends. A lot of the early scenes are intense sex that drives both men wild, but also makes clear they have little interest in being in the same room once the dust settles. Noah is also very public about his dislike for Tommy, including speaking out in interviews about how he thinks Tommy is a dirty player. So there is an interesting relationship here as the men have this intense sexual chemistry, but still are very much at odds personally for much of the book.
As Tommy and Noah spend more time together and continue to hook up, they begin to realize they have a particular dynamic where Noah’s direction and Tommy’s acquiescence is a huge turn on for both of them. Tommy is all about the praise kink and they both like it when Noah is hard, even gruff, in bed and directing Tommy’s actions. Over time, we see Noah begin to recognize the dominance and submission elements here and read more about it, but this isn’t a BDSM story and the men never negotiate their dynamic, or even really talk about (something the authors note in the forward material). As I said, there is a lot of hate sex here and slowly, over the course of the book, the men start to find a friendship and then ultimately more. This is a long story and I found it perhaps too long in terms of how slowly this all develops, as there is not much larger at play here beyond watching Tommy and Noah be angry at each other, have sex, and then slowly fall for each other. So I think either trimming it down, or more additional plot may have helped. I also wanted more wrap up in terms of Noah’s behavior, as he continues being unkind at times to Tommy past the point where it seemed reasonable given their relationship. Noah has his reasons, but I felt this needed more closure and tie up. My last note is Tommy is only 19, which often threw me when I thought about it while reading. I would assume that given he is a professional athlete, he has grown up faster than most young men his age. But the idea that he was a teenager often felt hard to imagine given his personality and behavior.
This story is the first official book in the Sin Bin series, but there is a free prequel, Between the Pipes, that is available through a link at the end of the book. I didn’t read that story, but it features Zed and his two partners, and presumably sets up the injury that leads to Noah’s anger at Tommy. I had no issues following along here without reading that book, as enough backstory is given. But the three men do appear here and I was intrigued by their relationship and enjoyed the characters, so I will likely go back and check it out.
Overall, I found this an entertaining story and I really liked the world and characters these authors created. It is a nice collaboration between Lindsey and Vivancos and an interesting blend of their styles. If you are in the mood for a strong enemies to lovers with lots of intense hate sex, this one is worth checking out.