Hockey + Hot men + I'm Canadian = All the WIN!!!

Him - Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy

I received this audio book as an early Christmas present and needless to say I couldn't wait to listen to it, so I didn't. Thank you Heather ;)

 

It's about hot men and hockey and I'm Canadian so let's face it resistance is minimal to none. This was a second chance story, seeking forgiveness, coming out, friends to lovers kind of story so many things that push my hot buttons. 

 

Jamie Canning and Ryan Wesley first meet at hockey camp and it wasn't love at first sight. Jamie was pretty sure that Ryan's little more than an arrogant ass but as time progresses Ryan manages to win him over and these boys become best friends. That is until Ryan's last summer at camp when they're 18 and things get a little too friendly for Ryan and suddenly he's gone and Jamie's left with no idea why he's lost his best friend. Jamie continues to return camp every summer as a coach, he loves coaching but he misses his best friend.

 

So that's the background the book actually starts four years later when the MCs are around 22 years old. Which I have to admit is the only downside of this story for me. I like my MCs to be a little bit older but if the stories well done and this one was seriously well done. I can overlook things like age, especially when the MCs are the same age, I'm often not a fan of the imbalance created by larger age gaps and daddy issues are just not my thing but again if it's done right I've read some good books with age gaps that haven't bothered me.

 

It's four years later and circumstances have Jamie and Ryan once again crossing paths. Ryan quickly realizes that he misses his best friend and doesn't want to let this opportunity to hopefully repair the friendship slip away.

 

I was more than a little impressed with how Jamie and Ryan's relationship progressed. It was believable. They took the time to get to know each other again. They talked, there were misunderstands, issues to be dealt with. Each man having things that he was afraid to reveal. Ryan knows he loves Jamie but he's going off to play hockey in Toronto for the Leafs (that's Toronto Maple Leafs) and he thinks Jamie's heading to the Detroit Red Wings training camp. Add in the fact that Ryan's pretty sure that being gay in the NHL isn't a viable plan.Letting love enter into the equation just can't happen because he's only got the summer with Jamie and then they both need to move on.

 

At the same time Jamie's dealing with the realization that he's bi...not just gay for Ryan, but bi. He's done his research and checked out other guys, watched his porn...gay, straight, lesbian. He's watched it all and this is the point at which I say Hallelujah! a character who's bi!!! That's right our Jamie's a rare bird...he's a bi guy and even better these authors aren't trying to hide it or make it sound like it's something shameful or different than what it is...wow! did you feel that breath of fresh air blowing through. I loved this finally a book where not only is it ok that one of the MCs is bi but no one's telling him that because he happened to fall in love with another guy, he must now be gay, what a novel concept.

 

I was impressed by the balance between the story and the sport. If you've had any exposure to hockey, at all, then you know that if you play hockey and the NHL is your dream...you eat, sleep and breath hockey. Every aspect of your life is focused on that objective because there may be a lot NHL teams out there, 30 to be precise. There is also a lot of competition to play on those teams as well. I appreciated that hockey never became the focus of this story but in order to truly get a feel for who Ryan was you had to be able to see that it was the focus of his life.  It also helped to highlighted a fundamental difference between Jamie and Ryan and what the sport meant to each of them.

 

Along with all this there were some really well done supporting characters in this story. I loved Holly. It was again a breath of fresh air to see a girl who didn't turn into a nasty, vindictive shrew when she fully realized that she wasn't the love of someone's life. Holly was for me a total sweetheart and I hope she finds a nice guy who worships the ground she walks on, she deserves it. Jamie's family was epic. I hope book 2 gives us a lot more of them. The facebook conversation where Jamie outs himself to them had me laughing like crazy and the His & His coffee mugs...perfection. Ryan's family...pfft, not so much then can just go away.  The camp director at the hockey camp again awesome. 

 

So overall just a really, really well done story and add to that a couple of amazing narrators...that's right this story had 2 narrators, Teddy Hamilton & Jacob Morgan and for me they took this book from what would have probably been 4 maybe 4. 5 stars to a really solid 5 I-want-to-hear-this-again-stars.

 

I'm definitely a fan of this series and hope to read the second book soon, but if the same two narrators do the audiobook...well, sign me up for that one as well.