COMMON GOAL by Rachel Reid

New York Admirals goalie Eric never thought his friends-with-benefits arrangement with much-younger Kyle would leave them both wanting more…

Veteran goaltender Eric Bennett has faced down some of the toughest shooters on the ice, but nothing prepared him for his latest challenge—life after hockey. It’s time to make some big changes, starting with finally dating men for the first time.

Graduate student Kyle Swift moved to New York nursing a broken heart. He’d sworn to find someone his own age to crush on (for once). Until he meets a gorgeous, distinguished silver fox hockey player. Despite their intense physical attraction, Kyle has no intention of getting emotionally involved. He’ll teach Eric a few tricks, have some mutually consensual fun, then walk away.

Eric is more than happy to learn anything Kyle brings to the table. And Kyle never expected their friends-with-benefits arrangement to leave him wanting more. Happily-ever-after might be staring them in the face, but it won’t happen if they’re too stubborn to come clean about their feelings.

Everything they both want is within reach… They just have to be brave enough to grab it.


Title : Common Goal
Author : Rachel Reid
Series : Game Changers (book four)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 282
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sports romance
Publisher : CarinaPress
Release Date : September 21, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Do you continue to pick up books in the Game Changers series because you want Ilya cameos? Because hi, it me.

Ilya Rozanov wants to hang out with you tonight? At a gar bar?
Apparently.”
That guy is so weird.

Just kidding. I’m also here for the hockey and the romance. And surprising no one, in a series of hockey romances, we had both here.

Dating a much younger man would pretty much make him a walking midlife crisis, and Eric really didn’t want that kind of attention. He couldn’t stomach the idea of being a recently divorced man rebounding with a pretty young thing. And then there was the fact that Kyle was a man.

This was definitely the strongest in this series post, and pre, HEATED RIVALRY, and I’m so relieved about that. The dynamic of this couple, the age gap and the fact that it’s the older man needing guidance as he explores his hitherto unexplored attraction to men, was so sweet without ever getting into book one levels of sucrose. I think what really helped this romance for me was that I believed in the friendship that was the foundation for what later bloomed. And, honestly, the first kiss? Heart eyes. Pure heart eyes. This is actually one of those romances where I was less into the hot and heavy scenes and more into the burgeoning affection between the leads.

Not that I’m not happy for Scott, but I’ve been thinking about my own wedding, I guess.”
You can remember back that far?
Shut it.”
I forget. Was Holly a war bride? Was she your nurse after the Germans shot you?
All right, I’m going home.

As I’m forever saying, I’m a sucker for an ensemble, particularly when it’s a sports team ensemble. These players? I adore them. There were so many hilarious little moments and yes, as I teased above, Ilya was at the center of a lot of those funnies. Getting those moments with him, particularly when sharing page time with Hollander, and knowing we’re finally getting a sequel? I’m trying to cram my expectations into a small box but it’s hard, yo.

Who knew Rozanov had such a big heart?
I had a hunch. I think he might secretly be a big softy.”
He does a damn good job of hiding it.

Back to COMMON GOAL, I want to mention how awesome it was to see dialogue about consent and expectations about intimacy between two men because even in m/m romances I don’t think that’s really talked about. Safety, protection? Sure. But feeling obligated to put out, or return the favour, especially if you aren’t comfortable or as enthusiastic as you might have been? We love to see that. Also the discourse around the validity of bisexuality even if you haven’t explored part of that spectrum? Fabulous.

Toronto was a team of weirdos. <– this quote isn’t included for any context, it just made me laugh

Overall, I had a really good time with this read and would definitely recommend fans of this series who may (or may not) have been a little less enthusiastic about book three, particularly in the wake of Ilya and Hollander, to give it a go. I was also about to suggest those missing hockey to dive face first into this to get your fix but hockey is, like, back now? But weird? In August? 2020 man, it keeps on keepin’ on.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

GOALIE INTERFERENCE by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

It’s goalie vs. goalie in this brand-new enemies-to-lovers hockey romance from Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn… 

Ryu Mori has had a stellar season as goalie for the Atlanta Venom. So when he’s called into management’s office, he’s expecting to hear he’s the new starting goalie for the team, not that some new guy—an incredibly hot, annoyingly bratty rookie—is here to compete for his spot.

Not everyone gets to play in the best league in the world. Emmitt Armstrong knows that, and he’s not about to waste the opportunity after grinding his way from the bottom to the top. If the Venom is looking for a meek, mild-mannered pushover, they’ve got the wrong guy.

Ryu doesn’t want to admit the other goalie’s smart mouth turns him on. Beating Armstrong at practice feels good, sure, but there are other, more fun ways to shut his rival up.

In this league, it’s winner takes all. But there’s more to life than winning, and if Emmitt and Ryu can get past their egos and competitive natures, they might just discover they work better as partners than they ever imagined possible.


Title : Goalie Interference
Author : Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn
Series : Hat Trick (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : m/m sports romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 30, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

The premise around book two in the Hat Trick trilogy is competing goalies. Not from opposing teams but the same team. One, the more established regular for the Venom, who we met in book one, and two, a recent trade from the minor league. These two are total opposites in personality but share some surprising similarities, not just limited to being minorities in a predominantly white-populated sport. 

People write erotic stories about you two, bro.”
What? Where? Why?
Enemies to lovers, man. It’s a Thing.”

I’m a total sucker for hate, or enemies, to love (particularly in m/m) and the banter and push and pull and aggression between these two in the early stages of the getting-to-know-you phase was great. Stone cold Ryu facing off with hot-shot cocky Emmitt was a joy. Particularly when offset by all the personas on the team around them. I really am a sucker for the team ensemble dynamic. 

This is the last thing I wanted.”
Your romantic declarations need some serious work.

Their relationship becomes one, after agreeing to no-strings, but is put to the test as they approach playoff season when it might come down to a real competition between them, as opposed to the tandem-playing they had settled into in the regular season. This conflict was one the least contrived I’ve experienced and felt very real, and genuine, and I loved how they still tried to keep things civil, despite heartbreak, near the climax. Oh, and the final moments? Delightful.

Fucking score some goddamn goals or you’re walking back to Atlanta.”
Wow. I haven’t had a coach threaten to make me walk since Timbits hockey.”

This was a lot of good fun, and I’m so happy it didn’t flounder along the way despite the less than solid start, and while I didn’t love it as much as book one, I’m still so very keen for the final book in this series. Also, I forever love books set in this sport by authors who clearly know and love the game. It always comes through and I always appreciate it. This definitely cured me of my slump and I’m ever so grateful.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** 

YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE by Taylor Fitzpatrick

The first thing Dan says to him is, “we’re in the NHL!”, because that’s how he’s been greeting anyone wearing a jersey, and Marc Lapointe, ‘the future of the franchise’, is wearing Dan’s colours.

“I think you’re my new best friend,” Dan says, his excitement beating out common sense, social filters, the need to play it cool.

“It is nice to meet you, new best friend,” Marc says, his mouth twitching.

In hindsight, Dan probably falls in love with him in that moment, Marc laughing at him and with him all at once, but it takes a little while to figure that out.


Title : You Could Make a Life
Author : Taylor Fitzpatrick
Format : eBook (scribd)
Page Count : 202
Genre : LGBTQIA+ contemporary sports romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : December 20, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

It’s so hard not to compare this to the author’s more recent work (why, oh why, did I read this so soon after? who stole my chill?) which was similar but so different. And yet this was still so good. Just not one the same level, in so many ways, that THROWN OFF THE ICE was.

First of all, the angst is way lower in decibel. There is no age gap. And this one didn’t make me cry. But it was still sexy, funny, ridiculous, and had even more hockey than my first experience with Fitzpatrick’s writing did. I’ve said it for other authors and I’ll say it again : nothing makes me love a hockey romance more than when it is obvious the author is a true blue fan. This author definitely is.

Oh my god. There is totally a Quebec Secret Society, you lied to me!
We are not a cult. We are a province.”

Overall, if I had to recommend a reading order, even though I’m not sure they exist in the same universe (unless they do? I know she has other shorts and stories, seemingly all hockey based), I would recommend people start here. It’s lighter on all topics, really, with less blunt force on both the emotional impact as well as lighter on the sexy times, too. It sort’ve follows a more traditional path, one many LGBTQIA+ sports romance readers will be familiar with, but with more depth, if that makes sense.

He said you gave him a blowjob in Juniors and that it was terrible. [..]. Do not worry, I told him you are much improved at it now.”
Marc, don’t talk about my blowjob skills on the ice.”
Why is it always me that hears this shit?

The one (only?) major downfall to YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE is the beginning isn’t as solid as the latter half. It felt a little more surface level, and I’m not sure I liked some of the early angst conflict, and how quickly it resolved, that whole transition read weird to me, and even in hindsight I’m not sure about it all, but the last 60% was great, strong, fun, and just emotional enough that you are invested when things aren’t going right.

You are the Brangelina of hockey.”
I don’t want to be the Brangelina of hockey.”
You are years too late for that, bud. You guys have a following. If you ever broke up you would make girls cry.”
I don’t want to break up. Or make girls cry.”

So much of Dan was different than Mike, so much of Marc different from Liam, but you can see feel the author’s touch, her style, even after just one book. I love that. I’m glad this was different but still distinctive, with familiar tropes that are still made fun.

Dan’s always been a Leafs fan — his Toronto citizenship would have probably been revoked if he wasn’t one. <– hahah as a non-Leaf fan Torontonian, this killed me.

Even though I definitely dove into this too soon, and already kind of regret it, I’m so excited to have an author like this on my radar. If you’re into queer romance, or hockey romances, and love when they intersect, you absolutely need to be watching, and reading, this author.

THROWN OFF THE ICE by Taylor Fitzpatrick

Mike knew he was making a mistake when he let the rookie climb into bed with him. He just didn’t know it’d be a mistake that would follow him for the rest of his life.


Title : Thrown Off The Ice
Author : Taylor Fitzpatrick
Format : eBook (scribd)
Page Count : 224
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sports contemporary romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : December 13, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

No one grows up dreaming of being an enforcer.

What’s this, another m/m hockey romance that gets five stars from me? Am I becoming predictable? Well, no. Because nothing about this book was expected.

Why can’t I just stay with you?
Because I’m not a fucking lunatic. And I would become one if I had to deal with you all the fucking time.”
I’m here all the time anyway.”
And I’m already one day away from killing you.”

Starting with that summary : short and to the point, right? Sure, but no. But it does set up a certain expectation. The same one I had when I decided to fit in a “novella”-ish length story for the end of my night, not wanting to pick up something full length, something I thought would be happy times, or sexy uncomplicated hockey times, and, hahahahaha. I probably should’ve known better considering the two GR buddies who had both recently read it, and also rated it five stars, love the stuff that hurts.

Mike can’t help but want to shake some of that innocence out of him, knows he’s awful because all he wants to do is get Fitzgerald on a bed and make him fucking cry.

And wow did this hurt.

You remind me of that guy from Twilight.
You read Twilight, Tom?
Don’t need to, know all I have to. Old sulky dude obsessed with a teenager and being angsty about it. Sound about right?

As I write this review I have tears drying on my face and a twisted stomach left over from crying as long as I did. Probably some snot smeared around, too, let’s be real. Because for all that the age gap shenanigans between the effervescent rookie and the grumpy, reluctant, veteran enforcer, that made me laugh; for all the non-relationship and romantic angst, and push and pull that hurts, that you ache over; you won’t be prepared for where this story goes. And even if you see it coming, I challenge you to not be made a mess by it.

I’m not tiny. I’m concentrated.”
That’s what they’re calling it now?

This is a book I will absolutely read again, to hell with the heartache, and that is why it gets full stars from me. It’s sexy as hell, it’s funny, and I loved these frustrating and ridiculous characters. The only thing almost as devastating as parts of this book is knowing this author only has one other book in her backlist. Am I going to be reading it sooner rather than later anyway? Yes.

GOOD GUY by Kate Meader – double review!

He’s a Special Forces veteran making his pro hockey debut. She’s a dogged sports reporter determined to get a scoop. She’s also his best friend’s widow…

Fans can’t get enough of Levi Hunt, the Special Forces veteran who put his NHL career on hold to serve his country and fight the bad guys. So when his new Chicago Rebels bosses tell him to cooperate with the press on a profile, he’s ready to do his duty. Until he finds out who he has to work with: flame-haired, freckle-splashed, impossibly perky Jordan Cooke.

The woman he should not have kissed the night she buried her husband, Levi’s best friend in the service.

Hockey-stick-up-his-butt-serious Levi Hunt might despise Jordan for reasons she can’t fathom—okay, it’s to do with kissing—but her future in the cutthroat world of sports reporting hangs on delivering the goods on the league’s hottest, grumpiest rookie. So what if he’s not interested in having his life plated up for public consumption. Too bad. Jordan will have to play dirty to get her scoop and even dirtier to get her man. Only in winning the story, she might just lose her heart…


Title : Good Guy
Author : Kate Meader
Series : Rookie Rebels #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 322
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ 


Micky’s 3 star review

I’ve really enjoyed all of Kate Meader’s Chicago Rebels series and this is a new series in the same team, so I’m not sure why this is a different series name, but I was down with more from this context. If you too have enjoyed the Chicago Rebels, you will enjoy the familiarity of the management, characters and team.

GOOD GUY was about the oldest rookie in hockey. Levi was out of the special forces (Green Berets) and back to hockey which was his plan before he enlisted out of college. Now in his early 30s, everyone had their eye on him, especially Jordan, a reporter tasked with getting the inside scoop. Jordan and Levi’s previous connection was a barrier and facilitator.

These two were like chalk and cheese, grumps and bubbles. It was definitely interested and there was tangible chemistry which I enjoyed. These two had banter and there was honesty.

“I can’t really help that I have resting scowl face, Jordan. I’m not the most expressive guy.”

In actual fact, I thought he put his heart out there, but I found Jordan hard at times. Jordan had her reasons and there was a whole misogynistic storyline that took on a life of its own towards the end. Points scored for that element of the story.

All that said, this start to the series didn’t wow me. I think I struggled with Jordan as a character and Levi was truly a good guy and perhaps they weren’t the fit I envisaged together. I found the hump in the road a bit predictable as was the solving of the problem.

I know I’m not done with this team and I have an inkling of who might be the next Rookie Rebel. I think Elle might be in a future storyline too as there’s lots of mystery there. This was an enjoyable read, even if I wanted a bit more.

Thanks to the author and netgalley for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 2 star review

So maybe I read this too soon after wrapping the original series, maybe I should’ve given that space.. and maybe I should round up my review of HOOKED ON YOU. Because GOOD GUY? Wasn’t great for me.

I think this story’s biggest downfall is it’s just trying to unpack a lot of things. Grief, death of a spouse, a rough upbringing, a desire to give back, sexism in the workplace, misogyny in general, internet culture, conflict of interest relationship, a sorta-but-not-really second chance romance if we consider ‘almost’ a second chance.. all that and cameos, and repercussions, from as far back as book one in the Chicago Rebels series, plus all the life updates for the couples from the original books. Phew. That was a lot to just sum up, never mind read about, whilst still enjoying the Cinderella story of this team of hockey misfits and a slowburn romance we’re somehow supposed to believe in.

I didn’t love Levi but he’s an all-around paragon of virtue and low self-worth so you can’t hate him. I didn’t love Jordan even though she’s a tough, hard working, woman in a male-dominated industry, who is focusing on a career previously set aside by marrying young and supporting her now dead husband — though, to expand, I didn’t love the reporter dynamic because even though we’re told she’s not got a malicious bone in her body.. she did some shady things, sat on a lot of information, and used not-quite-above-board tactics to get what she wanted..  all of which are couched in nicey-nice and conflicted feelings but.. nonetheless.. yeah, this dynamic was the extra bit that didn’t work for me — and to poop on her feels like pooping on women as a whole. I didn’t feel much chemistry, didn’t love the romance, the only bit I liked about them together was some of the brutal, forthcoming, honesty that defined most of their interactions.

What saved this book from being a total wash is the ever fun cast of side characters and hockey personalities that sprinkle the pages and the background. I’m not sure how I feel about what I assume is to be the next couple but I guess we’ll see.

This low rating, and disappointment, aside I would still recommend this author and these hockey books (and I might even investigate her firefighter ones as this is the second book she’s had cameos, and dropped some not-so-subtle backstory, about couples and people from those other works). They are fun and sexy and relevant and often quite funny. This is definitely the biggest outlier for this reader. So, take this review with a grain of extra salty salt — as always.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **