Heated Rivalry is the beautiful story of a forbidden relationship between two hockey players who have always been on rival teams.
HEATED RIVALRY (Game Changers #2)
HEATED RIVALRY (Game Changer #2)
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: March 25, 2019
Genre: MM Romance
Length: 310 pages
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…
First things first, this book needs a trigger warning for Canadian hockey fans! This book should have been a DNF on principle. You see, the author writes about Canada losing to Russia in the World Junior Hockey Championship. How dare she! It’s unacceptable especially considering the unfortunate events of new years eve (Canada lost to Russia in the World Junior Hockey tournament for real). Talk about pouring salt into an open wound!
But gay hockey romances aren’t exactly easy to come by so I kept reading. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that. Which leaves me really torn about how to review this book. You see, on one hand, I loved it. On the other hand, the hockey fan in me is not impressed.
Let’s start at the beginning. The first chapter takes us to Regina, Saskatchewan. Regina is one of my favorite cities in the world and it’s NEVER mentioned in books. I’m not sure why that is. Regina is unofficially known as “the city that rhymes with fun” you’ll get it in a minute if that’s not the perfect setting for a romance novel I don’t know what is.
So I’m just going to take a moment to dwell on the irony of the first time I see the Regina in a book it’s an MM romance novel. Gay guys just aren’t interested in the sort of fun the city rhymes with. You get it now, don’t you? 😉
All that aside, I do have a bit of a soft spot for hockey players. Ilya was exactly what I imagine when I think of brooding Russian hockey players. I totally read all of his dialogue with a Russian accent, it was great. Seriously, it’s not often an author can depict an accent without getting repetitive, annoying, and occasionally offensive so this was a lovely surprise.
I loved the slightly forbidden nature of Ilya and Shane’s relationship. Secrets are kind of hot, aren’t they? I’m sure the mere danger of being caught as well as the personal and professional risks to both made their relationship that much more passionate and intense.
But with that said, I felt more invested in the relationship than the characters. I desperately wanted the relationship to work, but I didn’t feel especially connected to either of my book-boyfriends. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and I suspect it’s what the author intended. It’s just different than I’m used to.
This might be an issue with my expectations. I fell in love with Scott and Kip in Game Changer (the first book in the series)
Generally, I find romance novels tend to focus on the characters, this one focused on the relationship. To be honest, I’m not sure if it worked for me. But I think there is likely a whole group of romance readers who want to read about relationships more so than they want to read about the people in them.
Overall, Heated Rivalry was a great play on the reliable enemies to lovers trope. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sports romances.