by Rachel Reid
Series: Game Changers #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: October 22, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
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?
Goodness, this book is simply adorable! From the meet-cute to the grand finale, everything is delightfully fluffy and low angst, and it stars a hot hockey player. Sold!
Kip is biding his time working at a smoothie shop while trying to figure out what to do with his life. He’s graduated from college with a history degree, but is struggling to find a job in his field, so he still lives with his parents. It feels like all of his friends are getting promotions and moving on to bigger and better things. Enter Scott, the star hockey player for the local team – well, he was the star, but now he’s having a bad run. His fortunes take a turn for the better after Kip makes him a blueberry smoothie, so naturally, that’s the reason he returns the next game day – and not because he’s interested in the cute smoothie-maker. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, both guys are head over heels into an adorable romance.
“Like I said, I’ve never dated anyone,” Scott said. “I’ve never… I thought I didn’t need to. That I could maybe live without that.”
Kip heard the past tense in what Scott was saying. “And now?”
Scott exhaled. “I don’t know. I feel like…maybe I hadn’t met the right person yet, you know?”
“I’m just saying,” Scott said, “I don’t think it’s the smoothies.”
Both Scott and Kip are absolutely endearing. Scott’s the child of a single mom who died when he was a teen, and has now become a superstar hockey player through a combination of hard work and talent. Even though he loves his job and view his team as his family, he still feels lonely – partly, I’m sure, because he’s a closeted gay man who has to listen to his teammates talk about their girlfriends, wives, and kids. Kip, I think, is someone a lot of new adults can empathize with – an underemployed college graduate struggling to find his place in the world. Put the two together, and you’ve got a recipe for ridiculous cuteness. For instance, Kip finds it sexy that Scott wants to talk about his day with him. Scott hasn’t been in a relationship before, and Kip hasn’t been in any serious ones, so some of the cuteness comes from watching them stumble around like little baby ducklings trying to figure out how a relationship works – like when Scott keeps trying to give Kip expensive presents. I’m not a big fan of insta-love, so it was a bit eyebrow-raising how quickly they fall into a serious relationship. They go from meeting at the smoothie shop to Scott contemplating having Kip move in over the course of a few weeks. But, goodness, they’re just so heart-meltingly adorable together that I find it hard to get too worked up about it.
“It’s not a big deal,” Scott tried.
“It is a big deal, Scott! It’s a very big deal! You can’t just…change my whole life!”
“Why not?” Scott said softly. “You changed mine.”
Since Scott is closeted to everyone, their relationship has to be a secret, of course. There is some worrying from him over coming out as the first gay NHL player and how that would affect Kip’s life, but overall it’s pretty low angst. You would not think that book about a man stressing about the effects of coming out on his profession and relationships would be low angst, and yet, somehow, it is. At the same time, it doesn’t downplay the stress that Kip faces as Scott’s dirty little secret. Which all comes down to my main quibble with the book – it’s 100% a smoothie barista Cinderella fairy tale. Realistic it isn’t – well, except for the hockey bits, which seemed pretty well done to my hockey fan self. Again, though, I found Kip and Scott to be so ridiculously cute that I pretty much just shut off the part of my brain complaining about insta-love and everything else. Also, there’s a lot of sex. In-person sex, jerking off, phone sex, webcam sex… This is not something I’d normally complain about it, but there was so much of it I actually skimmed some of the later sex scenes.
Overall, though, this was the fluffy hockey romance I needed right now. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a sweet sports romance!