Battling a HEATED RIVALRY–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a M/M contemporary hockey romance from Rachel Reid. HEATED RIVALRY is the second book in her Game Changers series, which features two rival hockey players finding love with each other. All the books in the Game Changers series are standalone romances. Check out my reviews for book one, GAME CHANGER, or book three, TOUGH GUY, which I highly recommend.

About the book:
Nothing interferes with Shane Hollander’s game—definitely not the sexy rival he loves to hate.

Pro hockey star Shane Hollander isn’t just crazy talented, he’s got a spotless reputation. Hockey is his life. Now that he’s captain of the Montreal Voyageurs, he won’t let anything jeopardize that, especially the sexy Russian whose hard body keeps him awake at night.

Boston Bears captain Ilya Rozanov is everything Shane’s not. The self-proclaimed king of the ice, he’s as cocky as he is talented. No one can beat him—except Shane. They’ve made a career on their legendary rivalry, but when the skates come off, the heat between them is undeniable. When Ilya realizes he wants more than a few secret hookups, he knows he must walk away. The risk is too great.

As their attraction intensifies, they struggle to keep their relationship out of the public eye. If the truth comes out, it could ruin them both. But when their need for each other rivals their ambition on the ice, secrecy is no longer an option…

My Review:
Russian Ilya Rozanov and Canadian Shane Hollander are star hockey players who meet the first time as teenagers at the Junior World Championships. They are both team captains, and Shane’s disappointed his team loses to the cocky Russian. And, he’s not best pleased to go second behind Ilya in the NHL draft a couple of years later. They play for rival teams, but Shane has more endorsements and acclaim due to his boy-next-door looks and charming personality. Ilya thrives on conflict, and he’s got a penchant for low and dirty cutdowns.

Over these years, Ilya and Shane come into closer and closer contact, and there’s a current of attraction that they do not understand, but they do not resist either; Ilya is bisexual and Shane is gay–both are closeted. And, when they come together it’s incendiary. And confusing. Ilya tends to like dominance games, and Shane’s deep need to release tension favors a submissive role in the bedroom.

Their on-ice rivalry leads to explosive sexytimes–but over the years they begin to talk more than simply hook up, and Ilya and Shane develop a secret camaraderie that they cannot reveal–so many of their teams’ promotional activities center on their intense rivalry and competitiveness. Even if Ilya and Shane wanted to come out, they don’t feel they are able to do so and begin a public relationship with one another. Not yet, but they are making plans that will enable them to have a private life and share their growing deep love for one another without making headlines.

This was a really interesting and surprisingly tender love story for two very different men. Ilya suffers the scars of losing his beloved mother to depression/suicide, and growing up without affection from his dysfunctional family. Shane has bee well-loved by his parents, who might understand his sexuality, but he doesn’t want it to define him–or the direction of his career. There are glimmers of the first book, especially the scene where their fellow hockey player comes out to applause, which puts a new perspective on how they could live their own lives. I liked how that dove-tailed and enabled these guys to make choices that would support, versus alienate, them. It’s probably the most fraught of the three books in this series, but ends on a hopeful note.

Interested? You can find HEATED RIVALRY on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Rachel Reid is the pen name of Rachelle Goguen. She chose it because it is much easier to say, spell and remember than Rachelle Goguen!

Rachel writes cute, romantic smut, mostly about hockey players.
Rachelle co-hosts a comic book podcast called Living Between Wednesdays.

Rachel/Rachelle lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has always lived there, and it’s looking like she probably always will. She has two boring degrees and two interesting kids.

The first two books in her Game Changers m/m hockey romance series, Game Changer and Heated Rivalry, are both available now from Carina Press. Book three is coming soon!

You can catch up with Ms. Reid on her website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Are you a hockey fan? I am honestly not, because all my winter sports effort goes into wrestling–which my kids do and my hubs coaches. Still, I’ve been reading hockey romance for years now, and have more book reviews coming in that sub-genre over the next month or so. Feel free to share some of your fave hockey romance titles in the comments.

In the meantime, thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

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