by Rachel Reid
Release Date: March 29, 2019
Publisher: Carina Press
Book #2 in the Game Changers series
Number of Pages: 307
Ages 17 and up
CW: homophobic language
Nothing interferes with Shane Hollander’s game—definitely not the sexy rival he loves to hate.
Pro hockey star Shane Hollander isn’t just crazy talented, he’s got a spotless reputation. Hockey is his life. Now that he’s captain of the Montreal Voyageurs, he won’t let anything jeopardize that, especially the sexy Russian whose hard body keeps him awake at night.
Boston Bears captain Ilya Rozanov is everything Shane’s not. The self-proclaimed king of the ice, he’s as cocky as he is talented. No one can beat him—except Shane. They’ve made a career on their legendary rivalry, but when the skates come off, the heat between them is undeniable. When Ilya realizes he wants more than a few secret hookups, he knows he must walk away. The risk is too great.
As their attraction intensifies, they struggle to keep their relationship out of the public eye. If the truth comes out, it could ruin them both. But when their need for each other rivals their ambition on the ice, secrecy is no longer an option…
Before I get into my review of this story, I want to mention again how glad I am I finally took the recommendation to read this series…after waiting 2 years. I love how invested this author gets me with the characters and all of those around them.
This story takes place over many years. Shane and Ilya are, as the title suggests, heated rivals. The media has loved playing up the rivalry since they were in Juniors, pitting the star Canadian against the star Russian. The same age, the same position, similar stats, who’s the best? Turns out, sometimes it’s Shane and sometimes it’s Ilya. But where Shane has a downhome, aw shucks, golden boy persona, Ilya is rough around the edges and non-apologetic. So how do these rivals end up having secret trysts every time they happen to be in the same town?
I can’t blame either character for giving into their urges and taking the risk to meet up over and over. Their chemistry is undeniable and extremely hot. Ilya always seems so confident and sure of himself, which puts Shane on unsteady ground. He doesn’t know how to take the cocky attitude. Is there really a rivalry, or is it all just media hype? Shane honestly cannot tell. So even when the two are intimate, he always feels a bit unbalanced.
These two are not out of the closet. It adds a lot of intensity to this story in scenarios that may not otherwise be deemed intense. This story begins before Scott Hunter came out in the first book, Game Changer. We get to see the way this couple, who really aren’t more than a hook-up for a lot of the book, deal with being gay and closeted while also being very public figures. We see their thoughts and emotions when Scott comes out and what that means for them and their future, whether together or separate.
I’m going to warn you, when Ilya and Shane start talking on the phone you will melt into a puddle of goo. It’s so awkward and sweet and still has that fire. I cannot stress enough how much I love these two together. But, because of their positions in life and in sports, there is so much angst piled on top of it all. I was rooting for them while also begging them not to hurt each other.
The ending Ilya and Shane find is not what I was expecting, but it works for them. I didn’t know how the author was going to get to an HEA for these two. She not only found a way but also showed how everyone has their own idea of what will and will not work for them. It’s a beautiful thing.
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