Comment: I got aware of this book (and interested) after reading a review on All About Romance but the mysterious references to this not having a traditional HEA were too vague for me to immediately decide to red it. But the more I thought the more curious I got and I just gave in and I read it not that long ago.
In this story we meet hockey player Mike, already considered a veteran of the game at 30. He's even more self conscious of it when Liam, a new rookie of only 18 joins the team and seems to do all the things rookies usually do when trying to impress their fellow team mates but this one goes one step further and seems to latch himself to Mike, who everyone knows is aloof and slightly distanced.
As the time they spend together increases because they play games and train and face many routines along with their team mates, Mike and Liam seem to get closer and not really on purpose on Mike's side. However, Liam soon proves too difficult to resist and accepting his invitation turns out to be a decision that follows Mike to rest of his life.
This is a devastating book to read. It had all the feels as many now put it when referring to deeply emotional stories and I agree, this is terribly emotional. What is more surprising is how simply presented it is but I suppose that makes for an even bigger impact on the reader.
I haven't read anything else by the author and I can't say if this is her usual style, but the narrative is told to readers with minimum descriptions. Mike is the narrator of the story and we get to learn he is a man of few words, of few actions and he doesn't give in to silly or extrovert reactions. His personality is reserved and he isn't one to overshare. I liked how he seemed to be in peace with his quiet life, low expectations of what might come and he was happy to have a few friends and the support of his mother and brother but his life did seem to be characterized as bare and somehow lonely.
All this is known to the reader in a very simple way, no flourished descriptions nor anything like that. This means Mike is surprised and a little dumbfounded when Liam seems to follow him and look for his attention. We clearly understand, through Mike's words, that Liam is attracted to him and wants to be close but older Mike doesn't it let be visible he understands why unless Liam is one of those who has hero worship and likes those who are unattainable.
Slowly, with minimum explanations we get to see how their life develops, especially because one night Mike finally gives in and they spend the night together.
The big thing about this book is that the two characters fall in love but Mike never acknowledges it until the end of the book and never verbally. But everything necessary to appreciate all the layers of their relationship is there in thoughts, small hints, the situations they face and some dialogue Mike shares with the reader.
It took me some time to get used to the style but after a few pages it makes sense that it works for this story.
Just like other readers have done, I won't go into spoilers not more comments because the beauty id in the words, in the little things Mike and Liam share and I confess I cried many times just because what they had seemed so strong and special and unique, almost as if real people couldn't be that lucky to have someone like Mike had Liam (because we only get Mike's POV).
This is a very emotional story, we get to also think a lot about the impact of heavier sports like hockey or football in players, touch sports can have complicated outcomes, especially if the players get injured or if that happens easily.
I also think the author was contained in how much the wrote, what information was necessary and the more precise and less descriptive, the more impact it reached, even more so when combined with the heartfelt scenes we get to see in the novel.
This is a very good story but despite the wonderful aspects and the emotions and the strong content and all the spectacular things I could say about it, including how unromantic situations between Liam and Mike were actually quite romantic, despite the heart wrenching last chapter, I still think the end should be different.
I understand and it makes sense regarding what happens, but...
In the end, this was an amazing journey into the simplicity and the complexity of a relationship between two guys that might not work out but ended up being perfect together.