by Rachel Reid
Release Date: September 21, 2020
Publisher: Carina Press
Book #4 in the Game Changers series
Number of Pages: 282
Ages 17 and up
CW: homophobic language
New York Admirals goalie Eric never thought his friends-with-benefits arrangement with much-younger Kyle would leave them both wanting more…
Veteran goaltender Eric Bennett has faced down some of the toughest shooters on the ice, but nothing prepared him for his latest challenge—life after hockey. It’s time to make some big changes, starting with finally dating men for the first time.
Graduate student Kyle Swift moved to New York nursing a broken heart. He’d sworn to find someone his own age to crush on (for once). Until he meets a gorgeous, distinguished silver fox hockey player. Despite their intense physical attraction, Kyle has no intention of getting emotionally involved. He’ll teach Eric a few tricks, have some mutually consensual fun, then walk away.
Eric is more than happy to learn anything Kyle brings to the table. And Kyle never expected their friends-with-benefits arrangement to leave him wanting more. Happily-ever-after might be staring them in the face, but it won’t happen if they’re too stubborn to come clean about their feelings.
Everything they both want is within reach… They just have to be brave enough to grab it.
Okay, I know this is not his book and he already got his HEA in Heated Rivalry, but I have to say how much I love Ilya. He cracks me up! And, better yet, keeps everyone around him guessing. The scenes with him are like being in the joke since we know his secret and he just loves messing with those around him. While I hate that it’s a secret, I also appreciate the author showing different realities for different people. That your HEA may look different than mine, but the important thing is the people in the relationship are happy with where they are. Ilya is a very astute person and really loves to shake people up. It’s a lot of fun.
There is such a sweet vulnerability with Eric. The perfect person to help with that is Kyle. These two are perfect together. It’s really telling that their friends thought to get them together as friends because they thought they’d get along, not knowing that Eric is bisexual. But they were right! They have so many of the same interests, but they are plenty different enough to have a lot to learn from one another. For Eric, that’s learning how to navigate the LGBTQ scene in his area. After being in a long marriage to a woman and never telling anyone his sexual feelings, then spending a couple of years alone after the divorce, Eric is ready to explore the side of his sexuality he’s kept hidden. Kyle is the perfect tour guide.
Kyle is out, proud, smart, savvy, and giving. Maybe too giving. Although he’s young, Kyle has had more sexual experiences than Eric, but he’s just as vulnerable. He’s been taken advantage of more than once so he’s not thinking it’s a good idea to open his heart to yet another older man who is hiding. The thing Kyle soon learns is Eric is really not hiding. He’s blossoming.
These two are both so unsure and so reticent to put pressure on the other that there is plenty of miscommunication. When things start heating up in any emotional sort of way, Kyle makes a joke or light comment so Eric won’t think he’s clinging. Or Eric will shut down because he believes he wouldn’t be good for Kyle and wants to protect him. It’s true that Eric was quite adamant about not dating a younger man at first. But then it gets to the point where he doesn’t think Kyle would or should want him anyway.
It was quite touching, to me, to see how well Kyle takes care of Eric throughout this story. Just as Eric would almost forget the age gap when they were together in the same space, so would I. But when they were apart Eric would spiral into his own doubts and let them get the best of him.
As much as I love the story and journey of Kyle and Eric, I also loved being back in New York where it all started. Revisiting Kip and Scott as they were quite prominent in the story and having Scott be a sounding board for Eric is an appreciated step in this series. It’s always fun to revisit the couples from previous stories, especially when it’s in such a way to progress the current story and not take away from the new couple.