Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Ethan has been a star player in the NHL for almost two decades. He loves playing hockey, but it has cost him a personal life. He was engaged 10 years ago, but on the way to their destination wedding, his fiancé bailed without a word and Ethan has never gotten closure. Ethan now has to attend a wedding where his ex-fiancé will be the best man and Ethan does not want to turn up alone.

Jacob runs a local bakery and Ethan stepped in to help him out financially. They have a business relationship and there is an unspoken chemistry between the men, but that is a line neither will cross. When Ethan asks Jacob to be his fake boyfriend for the wedding, Jacob is nervous, but thrilled at the idea of spending time alone with Ethan in England. The men give in to the heat between them, but Ethan’s walls are up so high that he tells Jacob he can only be with him during the off season. However, Jacob likes everything about Ethan and it doesn’t take long before the men fall for each other. Now, they just have to let each other know how they feel.

Off Season is the second book in the Chicago Thunder series that follows NHL hockey players. We met both Ethan and Jacob in the first book and, for the most backstory and continuity, I liked that I had read Trade Deadline first.

Jacob’s dream was to open a bakery and he did that, but finances were stressful. When Ethan saw that Jacob needed help, he offered a business deal that helped Jacob out tremendously. Now, even though Jacob is hesitant about going away with Ethan, he’s thrilled at the chance for a vacation and for time alone with Ethan.

Both men have a lot of baggage. Since the breakup of Ethan’s engagement, he doesn’t let anyone in and even though he is the captain of the hockey team, he keeps most of his teammates at a distance. His father also left him and Ethan has issues with feeling difficult to love. Jacob’s parents died traumatically when he was 10 and he was then raised by his grandparents, who are now also deceased. He is close to his brother, but Jacob carries a great deal of sadness. Jacob was also bullied in school by athletes and even now he’s not comfortable around them. There is a lot of hurt and then a lot of comfort to be found all throughout the book as Ethan and Jacob lean on each other and start to let each other in.

The men have a great time and create wonderful memories at Ethan’s home in England, but Ethan gets paralyzed on next steps and he’s afraid to tell Jacob how he feels. Ethan is also dealing with the end of his career, as he’s an older player, and these men have a lot to sort out individually and together. But together they are better and then life is sweeter. I like the world here between the bakery and the hockey team and the found family they all create. The set up for the next book was not as smooth as I would have liked, but it definitely has my interest and I look forward to more from the players of the Chicago Thunder.