Rating: 4.25 stars
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Bryce Michel has risen from a young boy in a small Canadian town to be the captain of his NHL team and one of the most respected players. His team plays exceptionally well together and Bryce has promised them that this is the year they will finally win the Stanley Cup. But Bryce is going through a personal crisis and he can’t reel in his thoughts about being intimate with a man, so much so that he’s losing his focus. When he meets Hunter Lacey at the NHL All-Star Weekend, Bryce can’t think about anything but Hunter’s lips.
Hunter knows he’s an average hockey player. He was drafted to a team in need of work and Hunter can’t hold the team together all on his own. Being invited to the All-Star Weekend is something Hunter never imagined for himself and he will get to meet his idol, Bryce Michel.
Hunter and Bryce click immediately on the ice and off and Hunter realizes there is an incredible man beneath his hero worship. But when Bryce kisses Hunter, both of their worlds are turned upside down. Hunter never thought about being with a man, but Bryce challenges everything he ever knew about himself. Except, Hunter didn’t react well to their kiss and now Bryce’s game play is off the rails and the men will have to reconcile their relationship to have the life they never even dreamed would be possible.
Tal Bauer can write in depth characters whether he’s writing action-adventure books or more emotional sports themed stories and Gravity offers a book rich in character development with lots of hockey. When the book opens, we meet Bryce, who is already on the edge of his crisis. His life has been dominated by hockey and a personal relationship never fit his timeline. He also wasn’t ready to address that he wanted to be with a man and Bryce is starting to spiral. The book then closely follows Bryce and Hunter as they meet, have a great friend connection, and what happens when Bryce finally wants to reach for more.
There is an insta-love aspect to this book that has Bryce falling incredibly hard for Hunter after spending a weekend with him. There is also a lot of intense feelings and drama surrounding Bryce’s emotions when Hunter initially rejects Bryce’s romantic interest. Hunter feels that Bryce is out of his league, both professionally and personally, and it takes these guys some time to pull out of their downward spiral to repair their friendship and move forward.
Then, there is a soft romantic feel to their interactions and to their relationship as they go all in. There is also a lot of hockey time that fits into the story well and there is a good balance between the sport and the relationship. The hockey team plays a supportive role and their interactions also help build the story. Bryce and Hunter build on a strong friendship and have great chemistry together and it’s easy to want to see them get their HEA. Although in true Tal Bauer style, he likes to throw some disastrous roadblocks in the way of his characters along that path.
While it was great to see the hockey team being supportive, it was also clear the book was in a fictional world as there was no pushback to their relationship. Hunter was from Texas and there was no issue with his relationship from there either, which was great to see, but perhaps not the most realistic. I also had to overlook some hospital details that did not seem at all like they would be standard protocol. There is also a lot of Canadian French in the book, as Bryce is from Quebec, and I think there is an assumption that readers will understand what he is saying most of the time.
Overall, it was easy to get lost on this book. Between great characters with lots of chemistry and plenty of on-page sport, Gravity is a recommended read.