Pro hockey star Shane Hollander isn’t just crazy talented, he’s got a spotless reputation. Hockey is his life. Now that he’s captain of the Montreal Voyageurs, he won’t let anything jeopardize that, especially the sexy Russian whose hard body keeps him awake at night.
Boston Bears captain Ilya Rozanov is everything Shane’s not. The self-proclaimed king of the ice, he’s as cocky as he is talented. No one can beat him—except Shane. They’ve made a career on their legendary rivalry, but when the skates come off, the heat between them is undeniable. When Ilya realizes he wants more than a few secret hookups, he knows he must walk away. The risk is too great.
As their attraction intensifies, they struggle to keep their relationship out of the public eye. If the truth comes out, it could ruin them both. But when their need for each other rivals their ambition on the ice, secrecy is no longer an option…
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This book is approximately 66,000 words
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December 2008 — Regina
Ilya Rozanov trudged through the bitter cold of the hotel parking lot to the team bus. Like most of his teammates, it was his first time in North America. He had expected to feel more overwhelmed by that, but Saskatchewan was hardly New York City. Here, there was nothing to focus on but cold and hockey, and those were two things that Russians were very familiar with.
It was two days before Christmas, but for the world's best teenage hockey players, Christmas meant the World Junior Hockey Championships. For Ilya, it meant the chance to finally get a firsthand look at Shane Hollander.
There had been much made of the seventeen-year-old Canadian phenom. Ilya was sick of hearing the name, which had caused such a stir in the hockey world that even Moscow wasn't far enough to escape the hype. Both Ilya and Hollander were eligible for the NHL entry draft that coming June, and they were already expected to be the number one and two overall picks. The expected order of those two picks depended on who you asked.
Ilya knew his answer.
He had never met Shane Hollander. Never played against him. But he was already determined to destroy him.
He would start by leading Russia to a gold medal victory, here in Hollander's own country. Then he would lead his team back in Moscow to their championship. And then, surely, he would be chosen first in the draft. This was the year of Ilya Rozanov. Since he was twelve years old, 2009 had always been the year he was expected to burst onto the world stage. No Canadian pretender would change that.
The Russian team arrived at the rink for their scheduled practice at the tail end of the Canadian team's. Ilya paused with some of his teammates to watch the Canadians run drills. The practice jerseys didn't have names on them, so he couldn't pick out Hollander before he was told by his assistant coach to get his ass into the dressing room. The schedule at the practice rink was very tight.
They took to the ice as soon as it had been cleared by the Zamboni. The rink was small, and kind of dumpy. The actual games would be in the large arena downtown. There were a few people sitting in the stands, watching the Russian team practice. Some scouts, no doubt, and the few family members who had actually made the trip from Russia, as well as several local hardcore hockey fans.
Halfway through the practice, Ilya noticed a young man sitting a few rows above the penalty box, wearing a Team Canada ball cap and jacket. He was flanked by a man and a woman, who were probably his parents. It was hard to tell from the ice, but Ilya thought it might be Hollander. His mother was Japanese or something, right? He was sure he had read that somewhere ...
"Care to join us, Rozanov?" his coach bellowed in Russian across the ice. Ilya turned, embarrassed to find the rest of his teammates huddled around the coach.
He didn't like that Hollander — if that was Hollander — was here watching them. Or maybe he did. Maybe Hollander was nervous about facing him later in the tournament. Maybe he felt threatened.
After the practice, Ilya showered and dressed quickly. He headed back out into the rink to stand behind the glass and look at the stands. Hollander and his parents were gone. The Slovakian team had taken to the ice for their practice.
Ilya shrugged and made his way to a vending machine. He bought himself a bottle of Coke and wondered if he could slip outside for a quick smoke before getting back on the bus.
He zipped his Team Russia parka up to his chin and slipped out a side door. It was cold as fuck outside. He pressed himself against the wall of the brick building, stuffed his Coke into his coat pocket, and pulled out a cigarette and a lighter.
"You're supposed to smoke over there," someone said. It took Ilya a moment to translate all of the words.
He turned to see the person that he now definitely recognized as Shane Hollander. He had a very distinct look. Some of his features were clearly from his mother — jet-black hair and very dark eyes — but his father was of some bland, Anglo-European heritage, so Hollander didn't look exactly Asian. His skin, however, was flawless. Distractingly so. Smooth and tan with — and this was his most striking feature — a smattering of dark freckles across his nose and cheekbones.
"What?" Ilya said. Even the single word sounded stupid with his accent.
"The smoking area is over there." Hollander pointed to a far corner of the parking lot, next to a large snow-bank. It looked very windy there.
Ilya settled back against the wall and lit his cigarette. This fucking country. Bad enough he couldn't smoke indoors anywhere — he needed to go sit in the fucking snow while he did it?
"I'm surprised you smoke," Hollander said.
"Okay," Ilya said, exhaling a long stream of smoke between his lips. There was an uncomfortable silence, and then Hollander made another attempt at conversation.
"I wanted to meet you," he said, extending his hand. "Shane Hollander."
Ilya stared at him, and then felt his lips twitch a bit.
"Yes," he said. He pinched the cigarette between his lips and shook Hollander's hand.
"You're an awesome player to watch," Hollander said.
"I know." If Hollander was expecting Ilya to return the compliment, he was going to be waiting a long damn time.
When Ilya didn't say anything else, Hollander changed the subject. "Are your parents here with you?"
"Oh. That must be rough. With Christmas and everything."
Ilya struggled a bit to translate so many words, then said, "Is fine."
Hollander shoved his hands in his jacket pockets. "It's cold, huh?"
They leaned against the wall together, side-by-side. Ilya rolled his head against the brick to look down at Hollander, who stood a good four inches shorter than him. He was very interesting to look at. His cheeks were rosy from the cold, and his breath was emerging in white clouds from between his pink lips.
"Next year these are gonna be in Ottawa. My hometown," Hollander said.
Ilya finished his cigarette and dropped the butt on the ground. He decided to make an effort, since this guy seemed so determined to talk to him. "Is Ottawa more exciting?"
Hollander laughed. "Than here? I don't know. A little. It's just as cold."
"Your parents are here."
"For this? Yeah. They're here. They always try to come see me play wherever I go."
"Nice for you."
"Yeah. I know. They're great."
Ilya didn't have anything to add to that, so he stayed silent.
"I should probably go. They're waiting for me," Hollander said. He moved away from the wall and turned to face Ilya. Ilya's eyes went right to those damn freckles. Hollander stuck out his hand again.
"Good luck in the tournament," he said.
Ilya accepted the handshake and grinned. "You will not be so friendly when we beat you."
"That's not happening."
Ilya knew that Hollander truly believed that. That he would get the gold medal and be the NHL's number one draft pick because he was the fucking prince of hockey.
Maybe Hollander expected Ilya to wish him luck as well, but Ilya just dropped his hand and turned to go back inside the rink.
In the car, Shane told his parents that he had been talking to Ilya Rozanov.
"What's he like?" his mother asked.
"Kind of a dick," Shane said.
When the final game of the tournament was over, the Canadian team had to suffer one more humiliation. The Russians stopped celebrating long enough to line up so the teams could shake each other's hands — a show of sportsmanship that, at that moment, Shane did not feel in his heart.
For one thing, the Russian team had been dirty. He had hated playing against them.
For another thing, Ilya Rozanov was really fucking good. Infuriatingly good. And over the course of the tournament, the media had put a lot of effort into building up their rivalry. Shane tried to ignore the press, but it was possible that they were stoking the flames of his hatred.
When he reached Rozanov in the handshake lineup, he could see camera flashes all around them. He made sure he looked Rozanov right in the eye when he tersely said, "Congratulations."
Rozanov smirked and said, "See you at the draft."
They hung a silver medal around Shane's neck that may as well have been a dead rat, for all he wanted it. He respectfully endured the playing of the Russian national anthem, blinking back frustrated tears that he refused to let fall, and then he was finally allowed to leave the ice.
It wasn't supposed to have gone like this. He was supposed to have led his country to gold in his country. It was what the nation had expected. Canada's hopes had been heaped onto his seventeen-year-old shoulders and he had let them all down.
Every face-off he had taken against Rozanov, the Russian had looked him dead in the eye and smirked. Shane was not easily shaken by anyone, but that goddamn smirk threw him off balance every time.
Maybe it was just that, after a life of playing at a level above everyone else, Shane had finally met his match.
He was sure that was all it was.CHAPTER 2
June 2009 — Los Angeles
"Shane, could you move a little closer to Ilya, please?"
Shane felt Ilya Rozanov's arm brush against his as he stepped closer to him for the photographer.
"That's perfect. All right, smile, boys."
Shane's eyes were bombarded with camera flashes. He stood pressed against Rozanov, who seemed to have grown another couple of inches since January. To Rozanov's right was a giant American defenseman named Sullivan, who had been drafted third overall by Phoenix.
Rozanov had been drafted first.
Shane had spent the past six months since the World Juniors being a little bit ... obsessed ... with Ilya Rozanov. They had quite a bit in common, career-wise. They were both the captains of their respective teams, and had both led their teams to the championship this season. Both men had been named league and playoff MVPs, and both had been the scoring leaders of their respective leagues. The only difference between them was that Shane had a silver medal at home, and Rozanov had gold.
And now Shane had come in second place again. After a life of always coming first in hockey.
This fucking guy.
It wasn't all bad. Shane had been drafted by the Montreal Voyageurs, who, besides being the most legendary franchise in the league, were also only an hour's drive from his hometown of Ottawa. It was a good fit for Shane, who was fluent in both French and English, and who had always had a lot of respect for the Voyageurs, despite having grown up an Ottawa fan. But still. Being picked second stung.
Adding to the drama of the day was the fact that Rozanov had been drafted by Montreal's archrivals, the Boston Bears. Shane knew his career was now going to be inescapably linked to Rozanov's. If one of them had been drafted by a team in the Western Conference, maybe the rivalry would never have gotten off the ground. But this was going to be intense.
Which didn't mean that Shane couldn't be polite to Rozanov now.
"Congratulations," he said, turning to shake Rozanov's hand when the photographers were done.
There was a definite smugness in Rozanov's smile when he said, "Thank you."
Rozanov didn't congratulate Shane. Instead, he patted Shane's fucking shoulder, like he was consoling a child who had struck out at Little League. Shane jerked away from his touch, and was about to say something that was decidedly less polite than "congratulations," but they were both immediately pulled away in opposite directions for interviews.
Shane didn't see Rozanov again until he was back at the hotel. The lobby was packed with athletic young men in suits, but even in that crowd Rozanov stood out. He was one of the taller men there, and cleaned up — with his dark navy suit hugging his body — he looked like a GQ model.
Shane felt short. He had turned eighteen last month, but he felt like a kid.
Rozanov had turned eighteen too. Just last week. Which Shane knew because he was obsessed with him.
That night, in his private hotel room (his proud parents were across the hall), Shane couldn't sleep.
It had been an exhausting day, and, yes, he had been drafted by the NHL. He had achieved the thing he had worked his whole life toward. And being chosen second overall was nothing to sulk about.
He wasn't sulking. Not really. He was just ... bothered. By something.
He sighed and rolled out of bed. He threw on some sweats and his sneakers and headed down to the hotel gym. Maybe he could shut his mind off with some exercise.
The gym was mercifully empty. Shane stepped onto one of the two treadmills and started running at a gentle pace. He didn't wear headphones; he just lost himself in the noise of the machine.
He didn't notice when someone else entered the gym. He only realized he wasn't alone when the other man stepped onto the treadmill next to him.
Ilya Rozanov gave him a quick nod and turned to face the white wall at the front of the room as he started running alongside Shane.
Shane tried to ignore Rozanov's presence. There was nothing weird about it; he must have been having trouble sleeping too. Or maybe he always hit the gym after midnight. Or maybe the time zone was messing with him. Or maybe ...
Rozanov increased the speed on his machine. He didn't glance at Shane at all. Because Shane was petty and competitive, he increased the speed on his own machine ... just a little faster than Rozanov's.
Within a minute, Rozanov did the same thing, raising the bar and silently waiting for Shane to match him. Shane glanced over and saw a slight smirk on Rozanov's lips. Shane shook his head and fought his own smile. He cranked up the speed.
They kept on this way, caught in a silent battle, until they were both testing the limits of their machines. They were running at a sprint pace for far longer than was comfortable, and Shane's entire body was burning in protest. But he didn't want to stop, or even slow down, until Rozanov did. Rozanov smoked, for fuck's sake. Shane could beat him.
But Rozanov showed no signs of quitting.
They kept up that pace for another minute or two, and Shane finally slammed his hand on the emergency stop button and stumbled off. He leaned against the back wall, gasping for breath, before sliding down to sit on the floor. Rozanov stopped his own machine, and was holding on to the console for support.
"Fuck," Shane wheezed. Rozanov laughed and sat himself on the floor against the wall facing Shane. Rozanov's gray, sleeveless shirt was soaked through with sweat. They both sat with their legs sprawled out in front of them; Rozanov's sneakers were almost touching Shane's ankle.
Rozanov ran a hand through his damp hair in a move that was more interesting to Shane than it should have been. Rozanov was so ... masculine. Shane was baby-faced and short, and couldn't grow proper facial hair, and barely had any chest hair. Rozanov was almost exactly the same age as him, but he looked like he had crossed over a magical line to adulthood.
Shane quickly turned his gaze to the floor, and hoped the flush from the exercise covered his blushing.
"What a fucking day, huh?" Rozanov said.
"Everything you dreamed of?"
Shane looked him dead in the eye. "Almost."
Rozanov grinned back. "Sorry I ruined your big day."
"Montreal is nice, yes?"
"Is Boston nice?"
"Sure. Yeah. I've only been there a couple of times, but it's a good town."
They were silent a moment, and then Rozanov tapped Shane's ankle with the bottom of his sneaker. "Hey. We will see a lot of each other."
It took Shane a minute. "Oh. Yeah. Montreal and Boston play against each other a lot."
"Should be interesting."
Rozanov took a long haul from his water bottle. Shane pretended he was only looking longingly at the way his throat worked because he had forgotten to bring a bottle for himself. It wasn't until Rozanov's Adam's apple stopped bobbing and his lips were dark and glistening that Shane realized he was staring. The lips quirked up a bit, and Rozanov extended his arm, offering Shane his bottle.
"Oh. I'm all right. Thanks."
Rozanov shook the bottle at him, and Shane took it. He needed water. It would be dumb to refuse.
The tips of their fingers touched briefly together. Shane held the bottle away from his lips and quickly squirted water into his mouth. Rozanov watched him.
It was the first time that Shane felt it. It was like the air in the room had thickened. Everything inside him was buzzing and on edge, like he was about to jump out of a plane.
He didn't know if Rozanov felt anything. But in that moment, Shane wanted ... something. He couldn't even name it.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Heated Rivalry"
Copyright © 2019 Rachelle Goguen.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What IS it about big, burly gay hockeymen that just GETS me? If you love a good opposites attract, enemies to lovers romance, THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU! Do you like good guys? Shane Hollander is your man. He's a clean-cut wholesome Canadian boy whose parents come to all his games. He gives all the right answers during interviews, and is basically the NHL's golden boy. Got a thing for bad boys? (I sure do!) Ilya Rozanov is a Russian playboy with a chip the size of a Canadian center forward on his shoulder. OMG, ILYA. He is such a badass, but also somehow super adorable at the same time, and I just love him. Especially his sexy Russian accent. *swoon* The back cover blurb really doesn't do this book justice. It's not just Ilya who realizes that their hate-sex hookups are turning into something more - instead both men try to resist an undeniable attraction to one another as well as they can - for YEARS. YEARS, guys. And this enemies to lovers progression doesn't wait until they're feeling more friendly and loving before things start getting hot off the ice. Oh, no - there is PLENTY of hate sex in this book, and it's glorious. There is serious tension there from the moment they meet, and they're both used to being the absolute best in their field and have both finally met their match. Heated Rivalry is written in the past tense third person limited POV, and switches between following Ilya and Shane. Some of my favorite scenes are when they're not even together, but one is catching a spotlight of the other on the news or in a hockey game on TV and thinking about him. It's just so swoony, and you can truly see the deeper feelings developing for both men. The progression of their relationship, both as lovers and as friends, is just so wonderful. Also, the sex scenes are SUPER hot. This is the second book in the Game Changers series, but can be read as a stand alone with no spoilers for the first book in the series. That being said, I am TOTALLY going back to read book 1, Game Changer. There's an excerpt of the opening chapter in the back of Heated Rivalry and I made this mistake of reading it, then had to go one-click Game Changer to finish it, haha!
Let me start by saying that I absolutely loved Shane and Ilya. They are complete opposites, which I love, and the rivalries to lovers angle is a great premise for a sports romance. They also have this magnetism between them, at least on the sexual attraction side of things, and they can't seem to get enough of each other. That said, I didn't really get a romantic feeling from either of them until the last thirty percent or so of the book, and it's kind of lengthy given the lack of said romance. What we do get plenty of is sex of mostly the hot, angry variety. Now, that in itself can go either way, at least for me. There's no denying how hot these two are together, but after so many intimate scenes, most things have been done and done again, and it feels more like erotica than the romance I was hoping for. In fact, I started skimming those parts after a while, hoping to eventually get to some feels. Then, after all that, the ending was rushed and not at all how I had hoped for these two. Rest assured, it's not a bad ending, just not what I was hoping for after this seven year non-relationship finally started getting somewhere. This is the second book in the Game Changers series, and both have left me with mixed feelings, so I'm still debating whether or not I'll devote any reading time to future books in the series. As for this one, I guess it comes down to my personal preferences in romance. I loved the characters, and I really wanted so much more for them.
I thought Game Changer, Rachel Reid's first published book, was fantastic and I wasn't sure how she'd be able to top it with her next book. Well, top it she sure did! Heated Rivalry is every bit as fantastic, and maybe just a bit more, than Game Changer. Both books are about hockey, and both books are kind of about coming out. But Heated Rivalry is so much more. It's a great enemies to lovers story. Heated Rivalry totally stands alone but characters from Game Changer do make brief appearances. It actually took me a little while to figure out that a lot of things that happen in Heated Rivalry are on a parallel timeline to Game Changer. This book spans 9 years or so, beginning in late 2008. It's a captivating story about two hockey players who are supposed to hate each other—and sometimes they do—but they also can't fight the attraction they feel to each other. I enjoyed following Ilya and Shane's relationship over this vast span of time. Like Game Changer, Heated Rivalry hit me in all the feels. As the story went along, I kept waiting for their relationship to be found out (this was kind of expected because secret relationships almost always get exposed) but it sure didn't happen how I thought it might, but it was perfect the way it all went down. I do wish that the epilogue had given us more of Ilya and Shane's relationship another year or so down the road. There's no cliffhanger but I'm just one of those readers who always wants more from a book that I love. I searched around on the 'net and found out that more books are coming in this series and that we haven't heard the last of these two guys (hint: check out the author's Goodreads page and the "Ask the Author" questions she has answered). A review copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley but this did not influence my opinion or rating of the book and I purchased a copy because it was just that good. ***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***
I will definitely be reading more Rachel Reid books! Holy...Wow! Heated Rivalry is HOT, sexy, and sweet. It's romance, it's forbidden, it's taboo. It's hockey...okay, so it's two gorgeous hockey players. Heated Rivalry is relationship spanning years and becoming more. It's everything you want in a romance novel with the mouthwatering characters vying for a grip on their lives, this "thing", and each other. I think my favorite part is that Ilya's point of view always sounded like a big Russian with a marginal grasp on English. It wasn't flowery. It was blunt and brutal like the man himself. She's point of view was intrinsically Shane. I loved feeling like them, seeing inside them. This was my first Rachel Reid but it definitely will not be my only.
7+ years of Heated Rivalry and Intense Hookups. POV ~> Third person Setting ~> US and Canada Seeing the torsos of two men piqued my interest, let me know it was a M/M story. The lack of identifiable wardrobe or background detail forces the reader to read the synopsis, which interested me greatly. This is the first book I’ve read by this author. For over seven years, two long-time, closeted hockey players carry on a sexual relationship in secret. While each individual lead character was strong and interesting, together, it was just sex. Not a lot of getting to know one another, not a lot of romance. For over seven years, they had sex every time they were in the same city at the same time. Trying to remain detached, feelings were bound to develop sooner or later. The secondary characters provided good plot support. While it was nice to see time progressing, the date stamps really took me out of the story element each time. The story had a strong premise but felt too close to erotica than romance. The hockey element was fun though. Since I was expecting them to come out at some point so they could live out their HEA, I can honestly say I was moderately disappointed to see they did NOT come out, nor were they given a true HEA… more like an HFN that will most likely continue in the background of the next story in the series. . Rating: [R] ~ Score: 3.725 ~ Stars: 4 ========================== ⭐ ⭐ **** Disclosure of Material: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the Author/Publisher with the hope that I would voluntarily leave unbiased and unsolicited feedback. I was not asked, encouraged, or required to leave a review - nor was I compensated in any way. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising". ***** ⭐ ⭐
Steamy, emotional, and alluring! In this second novel in the Game Changers series, Heated Rivalry, Reid gives us a sweet and spicy, enemies-to-more romance that highlights the struggles and hardships of falling in love with someone of the same sex when you’re a professional athlete. The prose is tender and titillating. The characters are bold, driven, and charming. And the plot is a sultry, push-pull tale full of sexual innuendoes, red-hot chemistry, flirty banter, familial drama, friendship, competition, support, acceptance, love, and hockey. Overall, Heated Rivalry is a smoldering, tantalizing novel that reminds us that sometimes you have to follow your heart regardless of the consequences and is a fabulous addition to a series that is, undoubtedly, quickly becoming one of my all-time favourites.
This was a new to me author and I’m glad I picked it up! I thoroughly enjoyed Shane and Ilya’s story. It hit so many high points for me: closeted athletes, FTG, and hockey! Their story was truly an emotional ride and I got all the feels with their story. I laughed, I cheered, I got teary and had to grab some tissues. Oh! And holy hotness! So much sexy times and chemistry between Shane and Ilya. Their story really sucked me in and kept me on the edge. Being a big hockey fan myself, I definitely had a certain set of hockey players in my mind for this story. Despite that (haha), it was a great read. I would highly recommend this to hockey fans and MM romance readers alike. Now I need to go grab this author's first book!
4.5 stars- Wow, this was a book that's certain to leave a mark. Heated Rivalry is the second release in the Game Changers series by new author Rachel Reid. Though there's some overlap with secondary characters, I had no problem reading it as a standalone. A pseudo enemies-to-lovers romance, Heated Rivalry features two professional hockey stars who are constantly pitted against each other in public while hooking up behind closed doors. This was probably the most maddeningly slow burn romance I've read to date, but I loved all the angst interspersed with tender, swoonworthy moments. The slow unfurling of feelings between Ilya and Shane made sense given how secretive their relationship had to remain and how few and far between their times together were, especially at the start. And though the halting progression in the romance drove me a little crazy with wanting to see these two together, I loved that the author used the time to build an undeniable, palpable chemistry between the men that I adored. I also loved seeing the men's personalities come out more and more and enjoyed the banter between them oh so much, especially at the end. Heated Rivalry ends with more of a happy-for-now conclusion vs an out and proud public declaration, but all those seemingly small moments Ilya and Shane shared built until my heart was fluttering and I was entirely satisfied. If you like your romances with a slow build, Heated Rivalry is one you won't want to miss. *eARC received via Netgalley. The author and publisher had no influence over this review*
It is always such a treat to find a talented new author. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started Heated Rivalry. To my delight this book delivered. Shane an incredibly talented pro Canadian Hockey player meets Ilya a gifted and arrogant player from Russia. They clash on the ice and their competitiveness tends to stoke the fire of sexual desire. They start to randomly meet up secretly. Neither man is invested in this relationship since it's only fun and to release some tension right? Life is complicated and over the years they realize this arrangement is far from simple. At first Ilya annoyed me but by the end of the book he redeemed himself. Shane is sweet and patient and his family is wonderful. The entire story was almost perfect because life just always isn't. I felt the ending was realistic and even though I do not follow hockey I really enjoyed how knowledgeable Ms Reid was on the topic. After I finished I rushed to see what else she has written and purchased her first book. That is my testimonial to a great read, purchasing more work from the author. Thanks for this endearing adventure.
when ilya rozanov meets shane hollander in heated rivalry, it's the culmination of everything he's worked for. both are hockey superstars, ilya for russia, shane for canada, both are destined to go to the nhl. and both are crazy hot for each other. the first time they act on their attraction, it's madness pure and simple. it's aggression and desire and so much wanting. every time is supposed to be the last time. but instead it's more. it's everything. but how can they admit that? neither wants to be the poster child for gay hockey player in the nhl. everything has been made of their rivalry. they've played on opposite sides of the puck their whole career, how can what they feel off the ice change the narrative? watching them figure this out is...amazing. i cannot tell you how hot and sexy and deeply emotional this read was. what i can tell you is how much i freaking loved it. this is one of those reads that gives you a hangover where the only cure is starting it over from the beginning again. **heated rivalry will publish on march 25, 2019. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/carina press in exchange for my honest review.
This is the second book in the Game Changers series. It is a MM contemporary hockey romance. It is the first book for me by this author and I must say it was wonderful and probably won’t be my last. In the story the author develops the characters from young boys to adult men and weaves a story of rivalry and developing friendship. The characters are funny and lovable and as the reader I was routing for them to succeed. The pace was wonderful, I had a hard time putting the book down. As I did not read the first book, this can be read as a stand-alone.
I would rate this 4.5 stars. Although this is a follow-up to Game Changer, this can be read as a standalone. In fact, most of this takes place before book one and then catches up to that timeline, so you could read them in either order. Scott from book one has a brief appearance. Shane Hollander is on the Montreal ice hockey team and Ilya Rozanov is on their historic rival team of Boston. The author gives the reader a glimpse at what their relationship is like, and then flashes back to when they first met eight years ago. Each interaction over the following seven years is highlighted, showing the personal rivalry both on and off the ice in dual POV. But having hot, steamy encounters for so many years draws them closer. Their status and similar positions in the hockey world make for a strange connection that no one else could really understand. This is an enemies to lovers story and they are not romantic or a couple for the majority of the book, so if it will bother you that they have sex (off page) with other people, this might not be the book for you. While Shane has to confront the fact that he's gay, Ilya has to confront that even though he's bisexual, he only really wants Shane anymore. When their dynamic shifts in a way that frightens them both, they have to decide if this is worth their careers. I loved these guys from start to finish. I loved when they were enemeies, loved how they strangely became friends, and I loved them as a couple. This was a hot, entertaining erotic romance. I also found it a bit more realistic and evenly written than the first book. I was fine with how it ended, although some might not like the practicality.
An intriguing and seriously sexy M/M contemporary hockey romance that I thoroughly enjoyed! On the ice they are fierce rivals. In private they have a decade long arrangement of hooking up whenever they were in the same city. With both of their careers on the line keeping the relationship a secret is a must. This may have worked for a while but now their feelings have grown and something needs to change. Will they ever be able to have it all? This is a great read and definitely one I would recommend.
Rachel Reid melts the ice with HEATED RIVALRY, the second book in the Game Changer series. Captain of the Montreal Voyageurs, Shane Hollander, and Boston Bears captain, Ilya Rozanov, are rivals. They both share a secret that could alter their lives. This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences. I really liked Shane’s and Ilya’s characters. Their rivalry kept reminding me of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. The media has always played them against each other since the World Junior Hockey Championships and Draft. Shane is a humble, serious, and a good role model. He has an awesome family. Ilya is pretty much Shane’s opposite. He is arrogant and obnoxious. Ilya does not have a great family life. Both characters are lovable in their own ways. Their competition makes them better players. I enjoyed the plot. There were interesting twists. The story was believable and heartwarming. This is the first book that I have read by Rachel Reid. I enjoyed her writing style. HEATED RIVALRY was skillfully-written and executed. I want to go back and read book one, GAME CHANGER. I could follow this book with no problem having not read the first book. However, Scott Hunter from book one is referenced in this novel, and I want to read his story. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.