Story Rating: 3.25 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrator: Curtis Michael Holland
Length: 7 hours, 17 minutes
Riley and Cameron went to the same high school and were lovers. Riley thought they were really close and expected that he and Cameron would go to Northwood University together to play on the hockey team. Cameron didn’t share the same sentiments, however. He hung out with Riley to escape a bad home life and planned to accept a scholarship to play out in California. For Cameron, the sex was casual, but his abandonment destroyed Riley.
Fast forward three years, Riley’s the team captain at Northwood, and he’s determined to make his senior season a championship one. That goal is put into jeopardy when Cameron shows up as a transfer to the team. The animosity is strong on Riley’s side, while Cameron’s just apathetic, at first. Cameron’s three years in California broke his spirit a bit, and he’s been on autopilot since he left Riley way back when. It turns out that their connection was stronger than Cameron had acknowledged before, and he’s finally feeling passion for life again–even if it comes out as aggression against Riley.
I had a lot of issues with this story, particularly its authenticity in terms of character voice and plot situations. These characters had a distinctly juvenile quality in their speech, actions, and mentality. Having raised a couple of adults, I could grasp that dichotomy of being an adult, who’s also inexperienced with interpersonal relations. That said, they were super awkward, with Riley the most bitterest of bitter jilted lovers and Cam the coolest cat who’d ever dumped a dude. Their childish taunts and behavior really gave me pause, and it was hard to connect to them.
Beyond that, I felt a huge disconnect with their intimate moments because of the mild BDSM/light kink curveball I hadn’t seen coming. It was suddenly there, and discussed as though it was a continuation of their high school sexual experience, which stumped me and totally pulled me out of the story. Moments of melodrama on the ice, and with a rival school player, had the same jarring effect. On top of this, the hockey parts felt superficial, described in ways that didn’t really demonstrate the author’s understanding of either the sport or the dynamics of collegiate athletics, which was a let down.
The narration of this story by Curtis Michael Holland was fine. I could distinguish Riley and Cam’s voice parts from one another, and both sounded equally youthful–appropriate for characters in their early 20s. Cam had a more edgy/gravelly timbre, which seemed to match his rougher/jaded description in the story. I honestly think I liked the audio version more than I would have enjoyed reading the book.
In general, this book was okay, but I don’t think I’ll be heading back to Northwood U for further stories.