Tough Guy (Game Changers) – book review

Tough Guy
by Rachel Reid
Release Date:  January 13, 2020
Publisher: Carina Press
Book #3 in the Game Changers series
Number of Pages:  262
Kindle edition
Source:  MCL
Contemporary Romance/Sports
Ages 17 and up
CW: homophobic language, mental illness
Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.

Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.

Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

These two…my goodness. These two. I am so in love with Ryan and Fabian. On their own, they are both sweet and wonderful people. Together they are warmth and joy. Something I’ve quickly discovered about this author is she is able to pull all of the emotions from me.

This story is, first and foremost, a beautiful romance. There is so much more to it, though. Ryan breaks my heart. He is not happy but doesn’t really know what to do about it, he’s just going through the motions of his life. No drive to change things, but knowing there is something wrong about how things are going. His anxiety issues were so real and so well written. From the seemingly little things that can set him spiraling to the big issues that have to do with his job as an NHL enforcer, Ryan is a well-rounded and thought-out character.

The issues Fabian has to deal with are different, but no less important than Ryan’s issues. Fabian is very comfortable in his skin, and has long ago come to terms with who he is and how his family reacts to who he is as opposed to who they wish he was. But his hockey loving family has left a bitter taste in his mouth about the sport and those that play the sport. When Fabian and Ryan reconnect after years, Fabian’s challenge is to find that balance between supporting Ryan and expressing any concerns about Ryan’s job without letting his own bias about said job to sneak into the mix.

As well as the romance in this story, the friendships are top notch. Fabians core group of friends are hilarious and supportive. Ryan makes an unexpected friend on his new team and their conversations are fun and touching and bring a lot to the story.

Watching these two deal with their insecurities and find their way to realizing their wants and dreams and reactions to things are distinctly them, not wrong or abnormal. Just uniquely them. I am in love with this couple. I am in love with this series.

5 stars

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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3 Responses to Tough Guy (Game Changers) – book review

  1. Oh wow, this sounds amazing! I love sports romances that touch on more real topics like mental health! Will definitely be checking this out. Great review 🙂

  2. Pingback: Spell the Month in Books – September 2022 | All In Good Time

  3. Pingback: TTT: Favorite Books of 2022 | All In Good Time

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