The Long Game
by Rachel Reid
Release Date: April 26, 2022
Publisher: Carina Press
Book #6 in the Game Changers series
Number of Pages: 453
Source: NetGalley ARC
Ages 17 and up
CW: homophobic language, mental health/depression
To the world they are rivals, but to each other they are everything.
That’s how long Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov have been seeing each other. How long they’ve been keeping their relationship a secret. From friends, from family…from the league. If Shane wants to stay at the top of his game, what he and Ilya share has to remain secret. He loves Ilya, but what if going public ruins everything?
Ilya is sick of secrets. Shane has gotten so good at hiding his feelings, sometimes Ilya questions if they even exist. The closeness, the intimacy, even the risk that would come with being open about their relationship…Ilya wants it all.
It’s time for them to decide what’s most important—hockey or love.It’s time to make a call.
I have so much to say about this beautiful story. I will try to keep it cohesive, it’s all such a jumble in my mind right now. I’ll start out by telling you I received my ARC of this book in the beginning of February and I just couldn’t bring myself to read it because I knew I’d have a major book hangover when I was done. And I was right. I just adore this couple’s first book, Heated Rivalry, and have been a very vocal fan of Ilya (who we see a lot more than Shane) in the books that followed. I also knew I would want to tune out the world once I started this book.
Sometimes when a couple gets set into a sort of rhythm, they stop paying attention to the small details. Shane and Ilya both have fears about their plan for their relationship, but neither wants to rock the boat. They love each other so deeply and know they are loved in turn, yet they know the precarious situation they are both in with their careers if they veer off course. As much as I love Shane, he is often blind to what Ilya needs. He’s so used to Ilya being in charge and confident, he doubts himself when he glimpses the chinks in the armor. Not to mention he’s never really thought in depth about what Ilya has given up in order to make their arrangement work, where Shane hasn’t given up much at all.
Ilya makes me laugh one moment and breaks my heart the next. His journey is so incredibly touching and real. His struggle with depression is written so elegantly. It’s not something that can be “fixed” overnight, as much as he wishes it was. Until he is ready to talk about his thoughts, feelings, and fears he will not start to heal. I don’t want to give away too much here so I’ll just say, as someone who has depression, the author did a spot-on job and had me aching for Ilya.
In my review of Heated Rivalry, I said the HEA for that story is what worked for this couple. But relationships evolve and grow as time goes on. It’s been a few years now and it’s obvious Shane and Ilya need to evolve their long-term plan or they’ll be miserable. As much as I believed the initial HEA was correct for that time, I like this HEA so much more. It’s not all roses; it’s not like every person in the NHL is going to accept a relationship between rivals. It’s unfair, quite frankly. But when all is said and done both Ilya and Shane are where they want to be and, most importantly, together.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**
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