4.5 stars all around
I admit it, I was hestitant to read this. I had it sitting on my shelf for a relatively long time before actually picking it up. Because I have one all-time favorite book about a hockey player and a somewhat washed-up dancer/med student, namely Fairy-Tale, and I loved this to pieces ever since I found it as a free story on fanfiktion.de.
And I never found a book featuring a hockey player or hockey in general afterwards that grabbed me so completely. Additionally, hockey is not exactly "my" sport - I'm a soccer girl and always will be. But in the end, this book got so many high praise from people I follow, I just had to try it. And I was really not disappointed.
Ryan and Jamie were best friends before it all went to hell in a way that neither of them ever really understood. When they meet again, it all comes back - and is still as connfusing as it was years ago. I really liked the writing here, and also the pace of the story. Their misunderstandings, miscommunication and even the development of the physical and emotional side of their tentative relationship felt real to me, and I had a lot of fun reading about it. I know, some readers complained quite loudly about the juvenile way these two behaved and, most of all, talked at times. Which is, in my opion, one of the things that really worked well here. These two guys are inexperienced young men who spent most of their adolescence in locker rooms and on the field. I'm not sure what people expected, but I sure got exactly what I was prepared for. A lot of swearing, a lot of childish pranks and jokes, and a ton of brash talk and pretending to know all the answers to questions they feel the most insecure about. So, yeah, if you have a problem with things like that, this book probably isn't for you. These guys behave and talk exactly like almost every other young guy growing up on a hockey/socker/football field.
I also really liked the solution, especially for Ryan. I'm not a huge fan of the GFY-trope, mostly because I never met someone who was just "gay for one person", and a lot of stories I read about this topic felt somewhat forced or unrealistic to me. But that's just me. Also, I love it when authors include bi-sexual main characters without reinforcing negative stereotypes about them. Because the "B" in LGBTQA+ tends to be forgotten as much as the "A" or the "+" in literature, and if it's used, more often then not, it makes me hopping mad with how it's handled. The infidelity, the "indecision", the either-or mentality - because if you aren't, you don't have a sexuality, but are just a coward to admit to being gay. I've heard and read it all - from all sides of the field, so to speak. Which is probably one reason why I liked this story so much.
I also enjoyed how the author let's the guys grow and flourish without beating the same old path to death again. It wasn't all predictable, I was surprised a time or three, which is always a big plus in my book.
All in all, a very well written story, with a touch of reality to it that made it more enjoyable to read. Also, these two guys are hot together, their banter was amusing to me rather then annoying, and overall I had some great fun reading this one. Definitely recommended if you're looking for a sexy, fun frenemies-to-lovers story in a sports environment.