by Rachel Reid
Release Date: October 22, 2018
Publisher: Carina Press
Book #1 in the Game Changers series
Number of Pages: 334
Ages 17 and up
CW: homophobic language
New York Admirals captain Scott Hunter takes his pregame rituals very seriously. In this case, it’s not just a lucky smoothie he’s craving—it’s the man who made it.
Pro hockey star Scott Hunter knows a good thing when he sees it. So, when a smoothie made by juice bar barista Kip Grady precedes Scott breaking his on-ice slump, he’s desperate to recreate the magic…and to get to know the sexy, funny guy behind the counter.
Kip knew there was more to Scott’s frequent visits than blended fruit, but he never let himself imagine being invited back to Scott’s penthouse. Or kissed with reckless abandon, never mind touched everywhere all at once. When it happens it’s red-hot, incredible and frequent, but also only on Scott’s terms and always behind his closed apartment doors.
Scott needs Kip in his life, but with playoff season approaching, the spotlight on him is suddenly brighter than ever. He can’t afford to do anything that might derail his career…like introducing the world to his boyfriend. Kip is ready to go all-in with Scott—but how much longer will he have to remain a secret?
Sometimes I actually remember to jot down where I get a book recommendation. This is one of those times. The downfall of this is that I see how long I waited to get around to reading something that I saw a recommendation for. Trust me on this one…if you like romance and hockey, don’t put this book off. Back in January 2020 (yep, almost 2 years ago) I saw a Twitter thread that had me writing this book down. I didn’t take meticulous notes, but it seems like @kkielyauthor had asked for recs and this book was mentioned by @JenReadsRomance. At the time I still hadn’t even started listening to the Fated Mates podcast, of which Jen is one of the hosts. Now, almost 2 years later I know to trust when Jen recommends a book. I’ve read many that were recommendations from the Fated Mates podcast. I figured I need to get to this one since I am most definitely a hockey romance super fan.
Scott and Kip have such wonderful chemistry from the very start. There is something shy and innocent about the way they meet. The way they go about building their relationship is very sweet. Unfortunately, some of that innocence and sweetness has to do with Scott being in the closet due to his career. I think you can imagine where the conflict comes in with this story.
Kip is amazingly calm and understanding with Scott. Not so much because Scott is a sports idol in their city, but because Kip realizes very early on that what they have together is special. He understands how coming out can and will impact Scott’s career. But how much secrecy can Kip handle? After a while, it’s no fun to be someone’s secret.
For Scott’s part, there is an intense inner struggle. He doesn’t seem to be ashamed of being gay, but he’s been without a traditional family his whole adult life. His hockey teams, fellow players and coaches, have been his family since he was a teenager and lost his mom. This has made it extremely hard for Scott to find anyone he can talk to about his sexuality. Kip makes him want to change all that, but there is a lot at risk.
There are parts of this story that are totally heartbreaking. Scott is hurting and not sure how to handle things so he shuts down. Kip is hurting and trying so hard to wait things out, but it’s turning him into an introverted and unsure person when he was always more extroverted and somewhat confident in himself. Of course, this being a romance, there is the guaranteed HEA for this couple. And they both deserve that happiness.
I’m very much looking forward to reading more in this series. The author does a beautiful job in writing the highs and lows both. Plus, I can always do with more hockey romances in my life!