Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and #giveaway for a M/M contemporary hockey romance from life- and writing-partners Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood. ICE ANGELS is a standalone romance featuring two hockey stars on different teams trying to find a way to come out and love openly. You can find these other hockey romances from the same authors: THE NEW NEXT ONE which features two closeted hockey teammates and best friends finally revealing their true feelings, and finding love they never had expected at an all-boys college prep high school. This book is a bit of a prequel to NICE CATCHING YOU, a New Adult hockey romance which I really liked.
Drew and Cleevs love hockey, but they love each other more. How can the men find a way to save what matters most?
Todd Cleever and Drew Simon are crazy about each other. They started dating three years ago when “Cleevs” was a rookie defenseman for the Chicago Ice. Drew, the team’s captain, was a few years older than Cleevs. Both men were deep in the closet, but it didn’t take long for them to fall in love.
Cleevs was traded to the Bethesda Barracudas a year later, causing a heartbreaking separation. Ever since, they’ve skated around the problem with occasional stolen nights together and brief vacations under the guise of “friends,” but two years of living apart have taken their toll.
As the holiday approaches, Drew and Cleevs decide things have to change. Still, with their careers and two professional hockey teams in the way, how can they score the game-winning goal and save everything they cherish most?
If you like fierce love, a smallish age gap, exciting hockey, and a steely determination to make things work—not to mention enough steam to fog up all your windows and a fantastic HEA—this is the book for you. The novella contains about 43,000 words of sparkling holiday romance.
How about a little taste?
I arrived at the Hilton about three o’clock. Todd wasn’t due for another couple of hours, so I took a shower and dressed in jeans and an Ice T-shirt. Afterward, I switched on the TV but was too excited to be still, and I must have walked back and forth to the window a hundred times. When the news came on, I settled into a chair to watch. Someone knocked on the door a few minutes later.
Running over, I pulled it open, and there he was. Wearing a gray peacoat and matching beanie, with a messenger bag slung over his shoulder, Todd looked like a Hollywood heartthrob. He broke into a crooked grin.
“Hey.” My breath had caught in my throat, and I couldn’t get anything else out. “Hey.”
My pulse raced as my sight and hearing went into overdrive. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him.
“Drew? You think I could come in?”
“Oh yeah.” I grinned and stepped aside. “Please.”
He rolled his suitcase in and set it and his messenger bag beside the dresser while I made sure the door was locked. When I turned, he placed a finger on the tip of my nose and traced it down to my lips. “You get more beautiful every time I see you.”
“I’m so glad you’re here.”
He reached for me, and I relaxed into the safety of his arms. The relief of being held was profound. As a hockey player and captain of all my teams since high school, I’d always had to be
strong. Before I met Todd, as a closeted gay man, I rarely had hookups because there was too much risk of being recognized. When I occasionally met up with someone, what we did wasn’t about affection or support; it was about getting off.
“Love you, Drew.
“Oh, Todd.” I nibbled his lip, and when he hugged me tighter and kissed me, the heavy burden of my loneliness fell away. I relaxed for the first time in a while.
“I’m happy you could come and spend the night,” he whispered between kisses. I leaned back to look at him. His face was flushed, and his eyes were already dark with arousal. Sliding a hand up his back, I cupped his head. His mouth twitched as I moved in, and he moaned softly when our lips touched. I pressed against him, not ready for the moment to end but needing more.
Slowly, he glided his hands down my back to my butt, and we teased each other. When he licked my lips and probed softly, I opened for him. His tongue reassured me somehow, and I sucked it while my senses did somersaults. Hints of cedarwood and iris, mixed with his soft musk, surrounded me. We were both hard, and a thrill flickered up my spine as we rubbed our cocks together. Tiny, needy sounds filled the air while we enjoyed a taste of what was to come. I pulled away, took his hand, and started toward the bed. “Come with me.” He didn’t move, and I turned to look at him.
“I should shower. It’s been a long day, and I’m not at my freshest.”
Taking a step forward, I gave him another kiss and whispered, “I like you this way, remember? My sweaty D-man.”
He gulped a breath. “Lead on, then.”
We took our time undressing each other. When I removed Todd’s shirt, I gaped at his impressive physique as always: brawny arms, massive pecs, and a rippling six-pack. A large tattoo, a beautiful depiction of a wolf in the forest, ran from the nape of his neck to the middle of his back. Todd said it symbolized loyalty and family, as well as a willingness to become ferocious to protect what was dear to him. He’d told me he wanted to have one about us done on his chest—over his heart—and we’d design it together when our relationship was no longer a secret.
Todd Cleever and Drew Simon are professional hockey players who are also former teammates and current undercover lovers. Drew is the premier player in the league, and captain of the Chicago Ice where they were teammates for one year. Todd was traded after his rookie season and is currently an up-an-coming defenseman on the Bethesda Barracudas. There is about a 10 year age gap between them, and they have a long history. It was Drew who met Todd years before as a high school kid (at his own private alma mater) and who pointed Todd out to his own former college coaches–who later offered him a scholarship. Having been his former captain on the Ice, well, it’s all on the up-and-up but it COULD look shady to outsiders. Like Todd was “grooming” him or something.
So, they have TRIED to maintain a long-distance relationship that doesn’t raise any suspicion, but wow, its been three years, and a few of their close friends have come out without career issues during that time. In fact, Todd came out a few months back, and he doesn’t seem to have any struggles, except wanting to love Drew openly. And, really Drew wants this as well. Their families know, but their teammates do not, and they don’t want the season to get awkward if they declare themselves a couple.
This is a sweet and sexy established couple romance, with two good guys finding a path to happiness. Todd is afraid for Drew to come out, have a bad experience, and later resent him–and besides, they still live hundreds of miles apart. But Drew is a planner and he’s got an idea that would unite them both within a metropolitan area–if he can get an old pal to agree to a trade–and Todd to stop worrying about his love, which is rock solid in Drew’s mind.
This book is really sports-focused, and the pace is sometimes slowed by action in the league, but also by Todd and Drew’s own reticence. It’s also taking place in the run-up to Christmas, but doesn’t have the “holiday book” feel as the central plot is really on the coming, and the hockey. Christmas seemed like an afterthought, by comparison. Expect a lot of steamy reunions, and stolen moments, and friends who are the ultimate in supporters. I liked how Todd and Drew came out on their own terms, and how their love was strong enough to weather such long separations. It’s a definite HEA for all.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends.
About the Authors:
Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood met in law school and were married in 2017. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and enjoy travel, friends, dogs, and advocating for causes dear to their hearts. Josh and Ryan love writing, and the romance they were so lucky to find with each other inspires their stories about love between out and proud men.