As though someone flipped a switch, the rigidness in his body evaporated. He sagged against Mateo with his face in Teo’s neck. “I sold myself to the highest bidder,” he whispered. “I made money for school and to take care of my mom by letting someone fuck me. I was his paid whore for years. A whore to his friends, and then I would take that money and buy her food. I’d spend it on my stupid fucking education, because I somehow made myself believe that if I could take care of us, everything else would go away.”
When Mateo wrapped his arms around Tristan, he realized Tristan wasn’t just slack against him anymore... they were holding each other up. His eyes stung. His gut ached. Bile rose in his throat. And fuck if his heart wasn’t somehow matching Tristan’s beat.
My favorite scene.
This definitely does not pack the punch of The Deal, but is told in the same breezy, quick, engaging and frankly realistic style (speaking of the banter/conversation here). I also don't think it has the humor. I don't love comparing within series, I don't think it's fair. I just did it though, and I'll stand by that.
Frankly, I like these two characters backstories and conflicts far better than I like the predecessors because it felt more fresh, and in a lot of ways they weren't fixated like the way the characters in the prior novel. It features another sweet and open hero who basically just wants love.
So, why deduct a star-ish you ask? Grace. I thought she was realistic in a college freshman, kind of insecure way, but she flipped so quickly in her assertiveness, it was annoying. And in the final conflict at the tail end of the book, I cannot be convinced that her behavior was sensitive or in any regard in character for her. I didn't get a great sense of her. She was shy and wasn't, she was sensitive but wasn't.
That said, I enjoy this series more than nearly any NA, and it is tops for hockey. In some respects, I liked the pacing of this book better-and it shows another college couple getting to their happy ending in a very different way with a very different start. (And my eyes do get wet at one point, man, what the hell is happening to me)