Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrators: Jacob Mogan and Teddy Hamilton
Length: 9 hours, 56 minutes
Tommaso is a professional hockey player in Colorado. He came to the Cougars after being traded away from his Trenton team following a fight with his cousin (and teammate), Marco. No one knows the truth behind the fight, and Tommaso has no plans to ever tell them. Now, Tommaso has finally moved into a new house, but he doesn’t own a stick of furniture, having been renting a furnished apartment. His mother is coming for Christmas and Tommaso badly wants to have the house ready for her. She is in cancer treatment and lives across the country and Tommaso can’t help but be worried. So he wants everything to be perfect when she arrives, but has no idea how to go about furnishing an entire house that is completely empty.
Carter had dreams of an interior design business with his boyfriend. However, when his ex made some bad financial decisions and charged them on Carter’s credit card, it left Carter in huge debt and with his business falling apart. Now, Carter can’t afford his apartment and is going to have to move in with his best friend. If things don’t improve, he is going to have to take a step back, move home to Montana, and re-evaluate his life. But when Carter encounters a desperate Tommaso in the furniture store, the two strike up a conversation that leads to Tommaso hiring Carter to furnish and decorate his house top to bottom. It is a dream come true for Carter, as this may be just what he needs to keep him financially afloat until after the quiet holiday season.
With a short time table and Tommaso needing literally everything from furniture, to decor, to holiday decorations, working for Tommaso is basically a full-time job for the next five weeks. With Tommaso’s busy schedule as a pro hockey player, he also needs Carter to make a lot of the decisions, as well as arrange all the delivery, installation, and other details. It means the men are spending increasing time together and in near constant contact. Carter finds himself drawn to the incredibly sexy Tommaso, but he knows better than to fall for a straight guy. But while Tommaso is not out, he is definitely not straight, and he is totally into Carter as well.
As the men finally act on their attraction, the connection between them continues to grow. However, both men are at complicated points in their lives for starting a relationship. Carter is getting on more solid financial footing, but he is still unsure if he will even be able to stay in Colorado and make a go of his business. And Tommaso is still not sure he is ready to come out, particularly as he struggles under the weight of life-long homophobia from some of his family members. However, the feelings between the men continue to grow and they are falling hard for one another. Now, both Tommaso and Carter must decide if the love they feel for each other is enough to take a chance on a future together.
I’m Your Guy is the second book in Sarina Bowen’s Hockey Guys series. The book follows The New Guy, but works just fine as a standalone. In fact, I didn’t even realize there was an earlier book when I started reading this one and it worked perfectly as a starting point. Tommaso’s teammate, Hudson Newgate, is the focus of the first story and he plays a key side role here. So fans of that book may enjoy seeing how things develop for Hudson in this story, but as a new reader, I had no trouble jumping in here.
This one is a fun, grumpy/sunshine story of a professional athlete paired with a down-on-his luck designer. I liked the set up where Tommaso is totally overwhelmed about what to do with his completely empty house and Carter is badly in the need of funds and basically swoops in to save the day. The early part of the story focuses on the men getting to know one another as Carter is doing the decorating. Tommaso literally needs everything from floor to ceiling (somehow he not only has no furniture, but appears to own absolutely nothing other than clothes, dishes, and a TV, which was a little hard to believe, but I could go with it). I enjoyed the dynamic between them here, as Tommaso hates literally everything to do with shopping and decision making with regards to decorating, but he also finds himself surprisingly charmed by Carter, who does all he can to make the experience easy for him. Given the vast amount of work to be done and the short timetable to get it all finished before Tommaso’s mom visits, the two spend a lot of time together, setting them up to fall for each other. I enjoyed these guys together and found their dynamic really appealing. Carter is bright and sunny and brings some spark to the grumpier Tommaso. There is a nice chemistry between them and I definitely found myself enjoying their interactions.
Carter is into Tommaso right away, but Tommaso is still struggling with the idea of coming out. He has a bisexual teammate (who appears in book one), but the idea of coming out himself is terrifying. Over the course of the story, we learn more about Tommaso’s past and his homophobic uncle and cousin. I think Bowen does a nice job showing why Tommaso is having such a hard time and this really intrenched fear he has from growing up in this very hostile environment. Both his uncle and cousin were involved in hockey, and so this homophobia is very intertwined with his childhood and career. So it takes him some time for him to accept that he can come out and that the chance at real happiness with Carter is worth any potential fallout. I’ll also note that Tommaso’s mother and sister are super supportive and so there is some positive family interaction here to go along with the more problematic side.
On the sports end, we get a good sense of Tommaso’s life as a pro athlete, particularly his demanding travel schedule. There are also some nice scenes with the whole team and various side characters. However, this is not a sports-heavy book in the sense of seeing them practice or play games and you don’t need to know anything about hockey to enjoy this one. (That said, if you are looking for a story that really digs into the sports side of things, you may find this one too light on the hockey for you.)
I listened to this story in dual narration by Jacob Morgan and Teddy Hamilton. I have listened to this pair before in Bowen’s book Him, co-written with Elle Kennedy, and I think they do a nice job here. Morgan and Hamilton have different sounding voices, but I didn’t find the shift in narration between chapters to be jarring at all. They felt close enough that even when the characters were speaking in the other character’s POV chapter, the difference in narration didn’t bother me. The flow is smooth and both narrators give solid performances. Morgan feels a little flatter than Hamilton and I noticed at times that he seemed just a little slower or less animated than the scene or dialog seemed to call for, especially compared to Hamilton. Tommaso, who Morgan narrates, is supposed to be big and gruff and have some strong emotions and that didn’t always fully come through. That said, I found this one overall to be really enjoyable in audio and I was very drawn into the story. I can definitely recommend the audio format if you are considering this book.
I am really excited to realize this is a series and there should be more to come. We meet some interesting side characters and I am eager to learn more about them in future books. This one was really a hit for me and I enjoyed the story a lot. I can’t wait to continue the series.