Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Rachel Reid - Game Changer

Pro hockey star Scott Hunter knows a good thing when he sees it. So, when a smoothie made by juice bar barista Kip Grady precedes Scott breaking his on-ice slump, he’s desperate to recreate the magic...and to get to know the sexy, funny guy behind the counter.
Kip knew there was more to Scott’s frequent visits than blended fruit, but he never let himself imagine being invited back to Scott’s penthouse. Or kissed with reckless abandon, never mind touched everywhere all at once. When it happens it’s red-hot, incredible and frequent, but also only on Scott’s terms and always behind his closed apartment doors.
Scott needs Kip in his life, but with playoff season approaching, the spotlight on him is suddenly brighter than ever. He can’t afford to do anything that might derail his career…like introducing the world to his boyfriend. Kip is ready to go all-in with Scott—but how much longer will he have to remain a secret?

Comment: The second book in this series by author Rachel Rid has gotten a lot of attention because it's a very engaging romance spanning years in the characters' lives. I'm very curious about that one but when I can, I try to read series in order, which means I decided to start with this book, Game Changer since it's the first one.

In this book we meet professional hockey player Scott Hunter, he is going through a bad moment in his game performance but things change the day the decides to enter the smoothie shop where Kip is working.
Whether the thing that made him be able to focus was the smoothie or sharing a very innocent look with Kip, Scott doesn't know but the goes back there the day after.
Kip can't believe the famous hockey player remembered to go back for a smoothie but he can't deny there's something going on with the way they seem so awkward talking. One chance encounter, though, is the start of an affair that at first seems ideal considering Scott's public status. But with time and the increase of their feelings, will Kip be able to cope with secrets?

I liked this book. I liked how the story felt well paced, especially if one considers the main couple falls in love, lives personal lives with personal worries, then who Scott is publicly obviously affects any step they take. All the emotional content these things evoke can't be dealt with that quickly and I appreciate the author took time to develop things. I wouldn't say this went to the level of angst I would imagine, but it was complex enough to make it believable for me.

The story has a very basic plot but the interest and complexity and why it's compelling to go through is to see how intricate the characters are and how they deal with the stages of their developing relationship.
At first they seem giddy because they are starting something, they are lucky (in my POV) to have found someone they could trust and slowly, the more times they meet, the more complicated it is to label what they have. Things get to the point of no return when they admit they are in love.
As expected, there's a HEA in their future and I really liked how the author did it. It was sweet and hopeful, even if a little too simple to be fully realistic (but then again, we only have one perspective if how it was).

The complexity of this story comes from Scott's fears and doubts; not of accepting being gay, he clearly says so at some point, that he feels OK with that, but of dealing with others knowing and how that could affect those around him, namely his fellow players since he doesn't have family anymore.
I found this to be quite pertaining and in real life it certainly can be very stressful. I'd say maybe this is why this wasn't a stronger story for me. Angst and sadness don't have to give depth to a story for it to be considered better, but apart from the man characters' inner struggles, it did feel as if their doubts weren't that worrisome to begin with when, in fact, they must be.

Scott is a character we can sympathize with. He has many material things but he is an orphan, he lives a life of omission and loneliness because he thinks he might not be accepted for his talent anymore but meeting Kip changed his way of seeing things. Of course I'm glad he found love and something to compare things with, I think his personality was complex enough without him being more wary or having more negative moments.

Kip was a little more interesting for me, though, despite the fact he is OK with being gay, despite being accepted by his family and friends. His personality is more intriguing for me because I can see how his feelings of somewhat being unworthy and working at a job he doesn't like but struggling to find one he can be qualified for, after earning a degree can weigh him down. Added to this he feels alone by having only Scott and one friend to talk about, especially f he wants to talk about being with Scott. I can understand how his attitude at some point starts to feel as if being unfair but it must be very challenging to not be free with one's thoughts and words.

Nevertheless, I liked their romance and how it developed.
I also liked the secondary characters, especially Scott's closest team mates, they were funny. 
The sex scenes were too much. I don't think they really added much to the story.
The writing style was also fluid and easy to read and, thankfully!, third person.
I'm very eager to read the next book next month.
Grade: 8/10

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