Tough Guy (Game Changers, #3)
They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

Tough Guy (Game Changers, #3) Details

TitleTough Guy (Game Changers, #3)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 13th, 2020
PublisherCarina Press
ISBN-139781488068911
Rating
GenreRomance, M M Romance, Sports, Contemporary

Tough Guy (Game Changers, #3) Review

  • Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
    January 1, 1970
    *3.75 stars* Tough Guy is a very different book from Heated Rivalry, which was one of my favorite books of 2019. It's a more... angsty story, a lot weightier, and though I enjoyed it, I didn't adore it like the second in the series. I loved the fact that we get a confident, femme MC. I'm always into books with MCs who play with gender and blur the lines, and so Fabian was a real pleasure to read. I adored his confidence, and though he edged towards too judgmental and unsupportive of Ryan at *3.75 stars* Tough Guy is a very different book from Heated Rivalry, which was one of my favorite books of 2019. It's a more... angsty story, a lot weightier, and though I enjoyed it, I didn't adore it like the second in the series. I loved the fact that we get a confident, femme MC. I'm always into books with MCs who play with gender and blur the lines, and so Fabian was a real pleasure to read. I adored his confidence, and though he edged towards too judgmental and unsupportive of Ryan at times, he was a sweet character with an amazing group of friends. In fact, I think he had the best friend group I've read about in a long time. Ryan really touched me. As an anxious person with a child who suffers from anxiety, I really related to him and his struggles. He is a gentle giant, even with his job as an enforcer. I loved that he was so very different from the typical male romance MC. He was so sweet and so earnest that my heart really went out to him. Also, his sexual difficulties aren't usually discussed in romance, which I found to be refreshing. Real relationships have challenges and aren't all sex, all the time (well, most of the time!). While I found the pairing to be really lovely and with great chemistry, I found the plot to be slightly slow. I read the book quickly, but I didn't feel that urgency to finish that I do with a 5-star read. If you want an opposites attract romance with some hockey angst to boot and MCs that you don't usually see in romance, this will be the story for you. I think Rachel Reid is on a great roll with this series. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*goodreads|instagram|twitter|blog
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  • Judith
    January 1, 1970
    Didn't love it.Didn't hate it.It was ok.Maybe I was,unfairly,comparing it to book two which was one of my favourite books from last year.Was I expecting that same intensity? Most definitely.But,to be fair,this was a completely different book.Let's start with the positives....Fabian He is my absolute favourite type of character.Femme( enough said really)...I loved everything about him.I could wax lyrical all day about him.Ryan,on the other hand....I had mixed feelings about him.At times I kind of Didn't love it.Didn't hate it.It was ok.Maybe I was,unfairly,comparing it to book two which was one of my favourite books from last year.Was I expecting that same intensity? Most definitely.But,to be fair,this was a completely different book.Let's start with the positives....Fabian He is my absolute favourite type of character.Femme( enough said really)...I loved everything about him.I could wax lyrical all day about him.Ryan,on the other hand....I had mixed feelings about him.At times I kind of melted and at times he just irritated me( the inner thoughts started to bore me).Overall,I loved these two guys together.I got their connection and chemistry,I really did.But something just wasn't pulling me into this one.I stalled around half way and never really got going again.Review copy provided from the publisher,via NetGalley.
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  • Shile
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this one.Book 2 will forever be my favourite book ever. I went into this one with zero expectations and tried really hard not to compare it to book 2. I think i succeeded.This is the story of Ryan the hockey enforcer and Fabian the aspiring Indie Musician. It is some sort of second chance thingy/the one that got away thingy. I liked both characters, Ryan is a giant teddy bear, he struggles with anxiety, i wanted to hold him and wrap him in a warm blanket. Fabian is the complete opposite I liked this one.Book 2 will forever be my favourite book ever. I went into this one with zero expectations and tried really hard not to compare it to book 2. I think i succeeded.This is the story of Ryan the hockey enforcer and Fabian the aspiring Indie Musician. It is some sort of second chance thingy/the one that got away thingy. I liked both characters, Ryan is a giant teddy bear, he struggles with anxiety, i wanted to hold him and wrap him in a warm blanket. Fabian is the complete opposite of Ryan, He is femme, confident out and proud, who loves to wear eyeliner, lipstick and lace. Me likey him alot.So why only 3? The writing is good and the story flowed so well. This one deals with some I felt like the beginning dragged, it only picked up for me at around 40%. The MCs spent too much time in their head. I also missed the hockey in this one. I like Fabian and his friends but they took away some page time. I found myself zoning out then i had to go back and read again to see what i missed. Ugh!! The relationship between Ryan and Fabian was just ok, it didn't give me butterflies, there was something missing, huh? Maybe some intense chemistry and hot, hot sex? Or maybe it was the build up. Ryan and Wyatt on the other hand! Made me all tingly, their conversations were what gave me butterflies. Those two got mad bromance chemistry. Overall, it was an ok cute story, the writing was good, the characters likable enough. Oh! and we got Ilya and Shane cameo. Me is good. ARC kindly provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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  • Optimist ♰King's Wench♰
    January 1, 1970
    4.25Honestly, I intended to wait to read this until closer to its release but I am currently muddled in a reading desert complete with tumbleweeds and the occasional snake so... I needed a slam dunk.AND that's what Reid delivered in the third of the Game Changers series which, by the way, was completely different in tone to its predecessors. I found myself impressed with Reid's range and ability to straddle the line between sweet and meaty. Let it be known, I'm not averse to closeted characters 4.25Honestly, I intended to wait to read this until closer to its release but I am currently muddled in a reading desert complete with tumbleweeds and the occasional snake so... I needed a slam dunk.AND that's what Reid delivered in the third of the Game Changers series which, by the way, was completely different in tone to its predecessors. I found myself impressed with Reid's range and ability to straddle the line between sweet and meaty. Let it be known, I'm not averse to closeted characters and Ryan is in no way wearing Pride boxers in the locker room but it was a nice change of pace to have a hockey player who doesn't morph into a closet monster at the drop of a hat. "You're a giant, orange teddy bear with deep pockets!" Tough Guy features a ginger gentle giant that will pull on the heartstrings of even the most callous of readers. Ryan struggles with anxiety and body image issues both of which run deep. My heart broke for him more than once and I appreciated that the magic peen panacea wasn't trotted out. All his life he's found it difficult to connect with people both personally and professionally which has landed him on the trading block multiple times. Was it possible for your heart to hold on to a ridiculous crush for thirteen years? Which is how he lands in Toronto and with a little help from the serendipity gods has a chance run in with his high school crush, Fabian, or should I say a second chance run in? Full disclosure, I'm kind of a sucker for the unrequited love being requited trope especially when both parties were moony over each other. "There's always been something about you. I've always been drawn to you. Is that weird?"Ryan considered it. "I don't know. But I feel the same way." Fabian is Ryan's polar opposite: femme, confident, extroverted and loves the spotlight. He's an emerging local singer/songwriter who at one point was chosen for the Toronto Symphony. In short, super talented, super adorable, gives zero fucks what anyone thinks of him and, needless to say, has to carry the bulk of the lets get reacquainted portion of the relationship early on for obvious reasons. The scales do balance with Ryan treating Fabian like he's the center of the universe and Fabian's almost preternatural ability to temper Ryan's mental health issues which is a must for me as a romance reader with a squishy marshmallow center.The relationship evolves realistically and Ryan's angst was offset by Fabian's easy-breeziness coupled with their obvious chemistry. However, while they are enamored of each other Tough Guy is considerably less sexy than the other books in the series. It's more of a quiet sexiness with one BAJANGAJANG scene that was worthy of a reread. For science. Which proved my hypothesis that jazz hands and some primal... vocalizations really enhance the experience. True story.Also, Tough Guy's secondary characters were on point! All of them. They were fantastic and fun including a certain Russian who makes a couple of appearances which you know I was 100% on board with. #1-FANIf you're a fan of the series, sports romance, opposites attract, second chances or someone who can appreciate a significant size difference in their reads then give Tough Guy a whirl. I, for one, am hoping these two turn up again as the series continues.p.s. It can probably be read as a standalone, though I would never recommend that. Because Ilya.p.p.s. Sorry. I talked a lot about a Rachel Reid book. Again. An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    I am a huge fan of this series and the second book,Heated Rivalry is definitely one of my all times faves. I have fallen head over heels on love with Ilya and I don't think I will be recovering anytime soon I don't even want to !!So, of course, there was never any question about me reading this third book in the series, which by the way can be read as a stand-alone. I don't know why you would want to do that since I just told you about Ilya and his awesomeness... but you could.Now as much as I I am a huge fan of this series and the second book, Heated Rivalry is definitely one of my all times faves. I have fallen head over heels on love with Ilya and I don't think I will be recovering anytime soon I don't even want to !!So, of course, there was never any question about me reading this third book in the series, which by the way can be read as a stand-alone. I don't know why you would want to do that since I just told you about Ilya and his awesomeness... but you could.Now as much as I enjoyed this one, it just wasn't the same. I knew that before I even started it that it would be. All these three books are pretty different from one another. This one was a bit heavier on the hurt/comfort/emotional side. Now it isn't that this book wasn't good, it is just that the second book left such a huge impression on me, that my expectations for this one were maybe a bit too high. I know that isn't fair because they are completely different books...but I can't help how I felt either. Ryan and Fabian were definitely sweet together...and did I mention HOT... they were definitely HOT as well ;)Also, there are some awesome appearances from my all-time favorite Russian hottie !!So even though this book did not surpass the previous one (it is gonna be hard to top anyway) I did still enjoy reading it and I am very curious what is gonna be next from this author ;)  An ARC was provided to in exchange for an honest review  
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  • Rachel Reid
    January 1, 1970
    The third book in my Game Changers series! Just like how Heated Rivalry was very different from Game Changer, this one is very different again. There’s no secret relationship in this one, and it’s not a coming out story. Ryan is a giant sad teddy bear and Fabian is a hockey-hating, makeup-wearing musical genius. I hope you enjoy them!
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  • Hollis
    January 1, 1970
    HEATED RIVALRY, book two in the Game Changers series, was one of my favourite reads of last year. It came as a complete surprise considering the romance and tone of book one which, while far from bad, was just nothing like the follow up. As a result I was trying to lower my expectations for book three and went in to this one just hoping it ranked somewhere in the middle. And, for the most part, I got my wish.Ryan inwardly cringed at how rude he must have seemed. He wished he could just wear a HEATED RIVALRY, book two in the Game Changers series, was one of my favourite reads of last year. It came as a complete surprise considering the romance and tone of book one which, while far from bad, was just nothing like the follow up. As a result I was trying to lower my expectations for book three and went in to this one just hoping it ranked somewhere in the middle. And, for the most part, I got my wish.Ryan inwardly cringed at how rude he must have seemed. He wished he could just wear a sign that said I'm sorry. I am terrible at socializing. Please don't take it personally.There are a few elements in this installment that make it stand out — but I don't want to spoil the nitty gritty of it all — but more or less the majority of my enjoyment came from Ryan. This soft cinnamon roll was dealing with so much, while also thinking so little of himself, and yet despite how contrary to his personality it was, he was always expected to be a fighter. The tough guy (heyyyoooo). He was a bundle of contradictions and I enjoyed how Reid explored that.Opposite him is a non-hockey player but who comes from a long line of hockey supporters and, when he was young, his family often billeted players, too. But Fabian has no interest in the sport or the typically homophobic alphajerkholes who play it. Except there was that one exception from thirteen years ago.... who happens to be Ryan.This was one of the cuter reunion romances, though not quite a second-chance, and while Fabian didn't always wow me on page, I did like him. Though I'll admit I thought he was most enjoyable when amongst his friend group.. who were hilarious. I'm such a sucker for a friend group."Price! Thank god you are here. This goblin is bothering me.""Eat my nuts, Rozanov!""No fucking thank you."" Sorry! Sorry. I shouldn't laugh. ""Don’t encourage Rozanov."" I think I might love him. "The romance between these two, the intimacy involved, is one of the things that stands out to me. Beyond just Ryan, full stop. Adding to the fun were cameos by a certain Russian player and, I mean, any page with Ilya is a page you're going to love.So, yes, this definitely wasn't a new favourite but I did enjoy this read. I do want to say, though, that these endings give me actual whiplash. They are the most abrupt and I don't understand why. As a result, and because of my overall love for the series and this author, I don't want them to end. Please will there be more. I ain't too proud to beg.** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **---This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
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  • Cadiva
    January 1, 1970
    Another fabulous entry in this ice hockey series from Rachel Reid.I love how each book has been different in narrative, tone and in the romance it tells and this one could be my favourite of the lot because I just adored Ryan Price and everything about him.Fabian was also an interesting character, but I took longer to warm up to him because, while he was wonderful mostly in the way he intuitively understood Ryan's fears and anxieties, he also had a serious chip on his shoulder which I didn't Another fabulous entry in this ice hockey series from Rachel Reid.I love how each book has been different in narrative, tone and in the romance it tells and this one could be my favourite of the lot because I just adored Ryan Price and everything about him.Fabian was also an interesting character, but I took longer to warm up to him because, while he was wonderful mostly in the way he intuitively understood Ryan's fears and anxieties, he also had a serious chip on his shoulder which I didn't think really was earned to the degree he exercised it.That's a minor quibble though in a book which is otherwise a beautiful slow burn romance, one in which two men who are as different as light and dark can find common ground in their appreciation of what makes the other unique.Fabian was unashamedly queer, Ryan quietly so, but he also wasn't closeted and didn't hide his attraction to Fabian. Ryan's clinical anxieties were handled with consideration by the author, I never felt like they were overplayed or that they were brushed aside with the properties of magical dick.(view spoiler)[It was different to have a main character who wasn't always able to engage fully in sexual activity because of his inner fears and anxieties and I really want to commend Rachel Reid for taking this approach.I never once felt that Fabian or Ryan were missing out on anything because of their lack of penetrative sex, although there is one incredibly beautiful and seriously hot scene in which they do. (hide spoiler)]The emotional connection between them, and Ryan's joy in just finding his anxieties put aside long enough to enjoy Fabian's sexual release was a very powerful narrative.There's a lovely guest appearance from our favourite mouthy Russian and his all-American secret ice hockey superstar boyfriend and I loved how their book was brought into this one with a subtle nod and hint.All round another great addition to what's been, for me, a really brilliant series of sports romances.#ARC kindly received from the author via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review
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  • Riley Hart
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone knows that Heated Rivalry was my favorite read of 2019. I'm basically obsessed, especially with Ilya. I was nervous to read this just because I loved book two so much. I was lucky enough to get an ARC and I absolutely LOVED it. I mean, it's different. Let's just get that out there now. It's different from the first two books in the series and really different from book two but that's one of my favorite things about it. I love that Rachel stayed true to Ryan and Fabian's story and Ryan's Everyone knows that Heated Rivalry was my favorite read of 2019. I'm basically obsessed, especially with Ilya. I was nervous to read this just because I loved book two so much. I was lucky enough to get an ARC and I absolutely LOVED it. I mean, it's different. Let's just get that out there now. It's different from the first two books in the series and really different from book two but that's one of my favorite things about it. I love that Rachel stayed true to Ryan and Fabian's story and Ryan's character and told this story authentically and as it came to her. I really loved Ryan. He's a gentle giant. Honestly, he's different from any character I've read and he just really touched my heart. He stood out and she went there in ways I'm not sure others would have done and it made me a fan for life. Fabian was great and he and Ryan were great together, but man I just wanted to hug Ryan and be his friend and tell him how wonderful he was. Great book, great series!
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  • *J* Too Many Books Too Little Time
    January 1, 1970
    Solid 4 Star Read!Great addition to the series. Rachel Reid is definitely an auto-buy author for me. I can't say this was my favorite, it didn't quite hold my attention like the other two. But I really loved Fabian and Ryan. Ryan was sooooo sweet. They had good banter, which was led mostly by Fabian. I thought they really complimented each other. They had great chemistry. And while Ryan wasn't exactly a virgin, sex hasn't always been enjoyable for him. Fabian really tried to change that for Solid 4 Star Read!Great addition to the series. Rachel Reid is definitely an auto-buy author for me. I can't say this was my favorite, it didn't quite hold my attention like the other two. But I really loved Fabian and Ryan. Ryan was sooooo sweet. They had good banter, which was led mostly by Fabian. I thought they really complimented each other. They had great chemistry. And while Ryan wasn't exactly a virgin, sex hasn't always been enjoyable for him. Fabian really tried to change that for Ryan. I also really liked the secondary characters - Fabian's friends and also Wyatt. ARC kindly provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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  • Ele
    January 1, 1970
    I think book 2 set the bar too high for me. I liked this one well enough, but it certainly did not wow me.I liked both characters a lot, Fabian for being confident and fabulous, Ryan for being a big teddy bear (an anxious one). I just did not love them together. They definitely had a connection but I didn't feel great chemistry, I'm afraid. I liked the beginning a lot, it was very engaging. After a while, though, the characters would spend so much time in their heads, I was almost bored.Overall, I think book 2 set the bar too high for me. I liked this one well enough, but it certainly did not wow me.I liked both characters a lot, Fabian for being confident and fabulous, Ryan for being a big teddy bear (an anxious one). I just did not love them together. They definitely had a connection but I didn't feel great chemistry, I'm afraid. I liked the beginning a lot, it was very engaging. After a while, though, the characters would spend so much time in their heads, I was almost bored.Overall, an ok read. Great writing, though.
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  • Lyn
    January 1, 1970
    Audio 3 Stars Story...3.75 Stars Sweet, low angst romance. I really enjoyed it, and really appreciate the fact that the author wrote 3 different romances in the series and didn't go the cookie cutter route. Audio 3 Stars Story...3.75 Stars Sweet, low angst romance. I really enjoyed it, and really appreciate the fact that the author wrote 3 different romances in the series and didn't go the cookie cutter route. 👍🏽👏🏽
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  • Mwanamali
    January 1, 1970
    THANK YOU TO NETGALLEY AND THE PUBLISHER FOR PROVIDING ME WITH THIS COPY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEWI won't lie. Fabian and Ryan are no Ilya and Shane but that's my problem. This sequel to the Ilyaverse was very sweet. There was a lot less focus on hockey and a lot more focus on Fabian and Ryan. Ryan is an enforcer for the Guardians and is disillusioned with his job but feels trapped. Fabian is an indie musician who can play a mean violin. They knew each other when they were younger and THANK YOU TO NETGALLEY AND THE PUBLISHER FOR PROVIDING ME WITH THIS COPY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEWI won't lie. Fabian and Ryan are no Ilya and Shane but that's my problem. This sequel to the Ilyaverse was very sweet. There was a lot less focus on hockey and a lot more focus on Fabian and Ryan. Ryan is an enforcer for the Guardians and is disillusioned with his job but feels trapped. Fabian is an indie musician who can play a mean violin. They knew each other when they were younger and bump into each other in Toronto. Fabian still carries an aversion to hockey players that he developed when his parents did a billet thing for young hockey players. But Ryan is like no other hockey players. He isn't homophobic, a macho bully. He's actually a teddy bear. A six ft seven teddy bear with severe anxiety. I've never wanted to hug a fictional character more. Ryan and Fabian's great love adventure's only misstep was coming after Ilya. Nobody's gonna top that. And yes, we get some Ilya in this book.
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  • Fabi
    January 1, 1970
    I read this one immediately after Heated Rivalry and unlike most of my reading friends, Tough Guy is by far my favorite of the two. I have a soft spot for wounded hero characters. Ryan stole my heart from early on. A gentle giant with a giant sized heart forced into an untenable position. Although I didn't understand what made him the way he was, I still empathized with his problems.Glamorous, talented Fabian could have easily stolen the show. Except for "the break up". You know, the one we I read this one immediately after Heated Rivalry and unlike most of my reading friends, Tough Guy is by far my favorite of the two. I have a soft spot for wounded hero characters. Ryan stole my heart from early on. A gentle giant with a giant sized heart forced into an untenable position. Although I didn't understand what made him the way he was, I still empathized with his problems.Glamorous, talented Fabian could have easily stolen the show. Except for "the break up". You know, the one we always dread in our romance reads. I was not a happy camper - but I never am with these.These two seemed completely incompatible, but their attraction to each other was palpable.Since I read the two books back to back, not comparing them is impossible for me. In comparison, Tough Guy is a four star read.Review ARC graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley
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  • Corina
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI found this author only recently, when I read and fell in love with book 2, Heated Rivalry - which was a 5 star book for me and honestly is hard to top.Ryan Price was this huge enforcer, ginger beard, hard muscles, gently bear in the inside, and he was attracted to the very opposite of what everyone would have imagined. He was confident in his feelings, but didn’t flaunt them. I loved his softer side, especially since he was such a fearsome character on ice.Fabian Salah, a former 3.5 starsI found this author only recently, when I read and fell in love with book 2, Heated Rivalry - which was a 5 star book for me and honestly is hard to top.Ryan Price was this huge enforcer, ginger beard, hard muscles, gently bear in the inside, and he was attracted to the very opposite of what everyone would have imagined. He was confident in his feelings, but didn’t flaunt them. I loved his softer side, especially since he was such a fearsome character on ice.Fabian Salah, a former childhood friend, was artistic, and very feminine compared to Ryan. It was an interesting change from the status quo of regular MM books and Fabian and Ryan made a great opposite attract couple.Although I really enjoyed the writing and characters, the book wasn’t as captivating as I hoped. It was slower, it had less hockey than I would have liked, and even though I really enjoyed the couple, Ryan and Fabian didn’t enthrall me the same way Ilya and Shane did.Overall I enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t a favorite.ARC generously provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Eugenia
    January 1, 1970
    I adored these characters!! This slow-burn, semi-second chance romance ticked so many boxes for me!UST-checkTeddy bear of a tough guy-checkSassy artist with guy liner-checkTaking it slow-checkReal people with real issues-checkSweeter than candy smiles-checkSex toys-check (this one was funny!)Manties-check, yes!Sexy hockey players-check!The sweetness, sexiness and delight with which the relationship between Fabian and Ryan developed was a pure page-turning addiction!Ryan, enforcer, suffers from I adored these characters!! This slow-burn, semi-second chance romance ticked so many boxes for me!UST-checkTeddy bear of a tough guy-checkSassy artist with guy liner-checkTaking it slow-checkReal people with real issues-checkSweeter than candy smiles-checkSex toys-check (this one was funny!)Manties-check, yes!Sexy hockey players-check!The sweetness, sexiness and delight with which the relationship between Fabian and Ryan developed was a pure page-turning addiction!Ryan, enforcer, suffers from severe anxiety, low self-esteem, and a severe lack of love for hockey. Recently traded to Toronto, he runs into Fabian—his crush from 13 years ago. Fabian is a working musician moonlighting at a drugstore when he sees his 13 year old crush walk into his store. Fabian is confident, driven, and wears whatever the hell he wants, including make-up. Oh, and he hates hockey and hockey players. What do these two opposite men share in common but an old crush? Through the book we see how a shy, insecure enforcer comes to find his true self and how a devil-may-care artist finds love in the unlikeliest of places. For those who have read Heated Rivalry, Ilya and Shane make a memorable cameo!This is a solid addition to this hockey series and I cannot wait for the next one!My rec? Yessssssss!*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review*
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  • Waleska 'Wally'
    January 1, 1970
    UPDATE: Audiobook review DNF ! Throwing the towel at 7% due to Tor Thom nasal , toneless and detached voice and narration. I enjoyed reading the book a lot, but listening to it was pure torture. I want my credit back! I find it interesting and somewhat peculiar , at least to me , that I enjoyed Tor Thom narration for book 2 , Heated Rivalry BUT book 1 and 3 , I didn't like it... okay , being real here , I. Hate. It. A very disappointing experience. TOD: 18h35 on 1/21/20 . ORIGINAL Ebook UPDATE: Audiobook review DNF ! Throwing the towel at 7% due to Tor Thom nasal , toneless and detached voice and narration. I enjoyed reading the book a lot, but listening to it was pure torture. I want my credit back! I find it interesting and somewhat peculiar , at least to me , that I enjoyed Tor Thom narration for book 2 , Heated Rivalry BUT book 1 and 3 , I didn't like it... okay , being real here , I. Hate. It. A very disappointing experience. TOD: 18h35 on 1/21/20 . ORIGINAL Ebook Review Great Story I enjoyed reading this slow burn, opposite attract, friends to lovers, sports MM romance; book 3 In the Game Changer series, that can be read as standalone.Written in a completely different tone , approach and heat level that Heated Rivalry; in Tough Guy , Rachel Reid explores few topics that are very relevant in today's world. The homophobic culture in the major sports leagues , coming out and continue playing while being in the NHL as a high profile professional athlete, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, Rx pain management and addiction.Ryan and Fabian are very interesting , engaging and compelling characters and their journey to happiness isn't easy or/and direct . I liked how real, organic and natural their relationship build up and progressed.I just reviewed Tough Guy by Rachel Reid. #ToughGuy #NetGalley
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  • .Lili.
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this one. · The characters. I loved both their personalities.· Dual POVs· Feel good· Second chance romance· Opposites attract · Ryan's mental health issues were handled well. Two niggles:-The story did start slow, but once it picked up it never slowed down for me.-I felt like Fabian could've been more supportive of Ryan. All in all, Tough Guy is a lovely addition to the series. Rachel Reid is an auto-but for me. 3.75-4 Stars
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  • BWT (Belen)
    January 1, 1970
    I love the way Rachel Reid writes vulnerable characters. I loved that it was the big, strong, hockey player, Ryan, who needed the most help and that the femme, Fabian, wasn't stereotypically the one in distress.It dragged somewhat for me, though I still haven't been able to really put my finger on why, other than maybe just the emotion of the story got too heavy at times for me? We're in Ryan's head a lot, and sometimes it was a lot.Overall, I liked it. I loved Fabian, I loved how Fabian and I love the way Rachel Reid writes vulnerable characters. I loved that it was the big, strong, hockey player, Ryan, who needed the most help and that the femme, Fabian, wasn't stereotypically the one in distress.It dragged somewhat for me, though I still haven't been able to really put my finger on why, other than maybe just the emotion of the story got too heavy at times for me? We're in Ryan's head a lot, and sometimes it was a lot.Overall, I liked it. I loved Fabian, I loved how Fabian and Ryan were together, and their happy ending, and I loved getting some cameos from past characters. I'm looking forward to see what happens next in the series.3.5 StarsAdvanced Review Galley copy of Tough Guy provided by Carina Press via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.
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  • Hayley ☾ (TheVillainousReader)
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 S T A R SHeated Rivalry (book 2 in this series) was one of my favorite reads of last year and is my favorite contemporary M/M romance. That being said, I went into this read with lower expectations, assuming that I probably wouldn't love it as much and sadly for me that turned out to be true. Even sadder was that this didn't even rank as "I liked it" for me. I didn't hate this, but I was bored throughout. Which makes me think that this could possibly be an instance of not the book but me 2.5 S T A R SHeated Rivalry (book 2 in this series) was one of my favorite reads of last year and is my favorite contemporary M/M romance. That being said, I went into this read with lower expectations, assuming that I probably wouldn't love it as much and sadly for me that turned out to be true. Even sadder was that this didn't even rank as "I liked it" for me. I didn't hate this, but I was bored throughout. Which makes me think that this could possibly be an instance of not the book but me because this really wasn't bad. I really loved the direction that Reid decided to go with these characters, making Ryan quiet and clinically anxious which is definitely the exact opposite of what you think of a big sports star, especially one whose unofficial position on the team is "enforcer". I loved that Fabian went against society's typical concept of what men should be, that he wore FABULOUS makeup, and amazing outfits and was 100% his authentic self and everyone else could just fuck off. I loved that Ryan and Fabian discussed these norms and battle against them. Fabian's group of friends were OTT but in a way that was fun and realistic. All that being said... everything was just so flat to me. Ryan and Fabian had personality, they just didn't have enough and when I was reading them I couldn't connect and felt like an outsider looking in. They were like a rough sketch, I could see their potential but they never became full developed. I wish Ryan's clinical anxiety had been explored more, I wish the concept of masculinity had been deeper, everything was very surface level, and I really couldn't bring myself to care. I also didn't feel any chemistry or connection between Ryan and Fabian which added to the overall feeling of disconnection. There was a lack of overall plot, which is fine when the story is very character driven, but these ones weren't fleshed out enough for me to care just about them.I will say that Ryan did have some good development but it felt a little out of nowhere, like he met Fabian and just changed . Fabian was pretty much the same from beginning to end but that's fine because this was more Ryan's story I guess. My favorite part of this book was seeing my babies Shane and Ilya. For the very few pages Ilya was present he was so real and I just really didn't get that from Ryan and Fabian. Reid is a new writer and I definitely have not given up on her. She put magic into Heated Rivalry and I know that magic is still in there. For me, it just didn't make it into this book.**Received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
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  • Judith
    January 1, 1970
    Loved Fabian...RTC.
  • Kaje Harper
    January 1, 1970
    Professional hockey is a game that demands a lot of its players, mentally and physically. The money is great, but Ryan has been traded over and over, moving from city to city without putting down roots or making friends. He's a decent defenseman, and would like to play that way, but ever since he was a teen and his body showed he was going to be six-seven and imposing, he's been put in the role of enforcer. That means his job is to threaten, and fight with, the tough guys on other teams. To put Professional hockey is a game that demands a lot of its players, mentally and physically. The money is great, but Ryan has been traded over and over, moving from city to city without putting down roots or making friends. He's a decent defenseman, and would like to play that way, but ever since he was a teen and his body showed he was going to be six-seven and imposing, he's been put in the role of enforcer. That means his job is to threaten, and fight with, the tough guys on other teams. To put the fear of himself into anyone who might mess with his teams' real stars. For a gentle guy with anxiety issues, he has to become someone else on the ice, and that takes a big toll. Fabian grew up in a hockey-mad household as a small, slender, music-loving, femme gay guy. His parents didn't reject him, but they never understood him, and he felt that the Juniors players they billeted every year were replacements for him - real, masculine, hockey guys for his parents to go to games for, and cheer on. He broke away from home, made a career as a solo musician, and after ten years in Toronto with good friends behind him, he's close to his big break. Then one night, one of those hockey substitute-sons comes in to the pharmacy where Fabian has his day job. It's a moment of conflicting emotions, because out of all those guys he hated, there was one who was kind, and never seemed to look down on him. Ryan was something special then, and he's impressive now. Fabian still loathes hockey, but he's glad to see Ryan again, especially, suggestively, in the middle of the gayest neighborhood in Toronto. Because they once almost had a moment...I really liked that this book features a femme gay guy who is secure in his fabulousness and a big guy with anxieties and image issues. I also loved that the sex is tentative and imperfect and not the immediate bonding factor between them. Ryan's issues with self-doubt and self-image have made sex, and even jerking off, difficult for him, and having an orgasm isn't his main goal when he and Fabian get together. Ryan stole my heart from the beginning, and I loved both Fabian's strengths and his flaws. The story is fairly slow and quiet, focused on character not hockey action or plot. Since great characters are what make a book work for me, I have zero complaints about that. I also appreciated that these are very different people from the MCs of Heated Rivalry and appealing in different ways. I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next.
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  • Sahitya
    January 1, 1970
    Definitely more of a 3.5.Heated Rivalry was one of my favorite romances of 2019 and I loved it so much that I read it more than once :) So, when I found that there was going to be another book in the series, I was very very excited and so glad when I received the ARC.The author’s writing style is very easy to read and once I start, I just don’t wanna put it down despite whatever I’m feeling. Because I thought Game Changer was an okay read but Heated Rivalry was excellent, I didn’t exactly know Definitely more of a 3.5.Heated Rivalry was one of my favorite romances of 2019 and I loved it so much that I read it more than once :) So, when I found that there was going to be another book in the series, I was very very excited and so glad when I received the ARC.The author’s writing style is very easy to read and once I start, I just don’t wanna put it down despite whatever I’m feeling. Because I thought Game Changer was an okay read but Heated Rivalry was excellent, I didn’t exactly know what to expect from this book, but this turned out to be a good one too. There were quite a few moments which were heartbreaking and touching and made me very emotional - there may have been tears involved. I also thought the author did a good job of representing the difficulty of being a professional sportsperson while also suffering from mental health issues - the stigma attached to it, undue pressure to conform to certain masculine stereotypes which don’t include talking about mental health, playing through pain and maybe even getting addicted to the pain medication - I truly didn’t expect so much commentary on such important issues from a romance novel and I think that’s great.We only met Ryan very briefly in Heated Rivalry, so I wasn’t sure if I would like him as a main character, but I almost fell in love with him instantly. He is an enforcer on the ice, a big intimidating presence but in reality, he hates flying, has severe anxiety and panic attacks, is in therapy and is very very awkward and shy. He is such a sweetheart and even though I’m probably a foot and a half shorter than him, I wanted to give him a hug and protect him. It was heartbreaking to see him struggle with not finding anymore joy in his sport, and also unable to talk about his feelings and issues, but still try very hard to overcome them all. He deserves the world.I can’t say I liked Fabian a lot. I initially loved that he was very considerate towards Ryan and his shy nature, slowly trying to get him out of his shell. But as the book gradually went on, I just couldn’t get past his hatred of hockey and not trying to understand Ryan’s perspective at all. I understand he had baggage of his own from his unsupportive parents, but I thought it was unfair to judge Ryan because of that. While there were so many beautiful moments between them, Fabian’s insensitive behavior really made me forget about them. Thankfully, the conflict between them was predictable and was resolved nicely, but it went on longer than I liked.I really liked the friend group in this book. Fabian’s three best friends are a delight, always teasing and being over the top but also giving solid advice even when he wasn’t ready to listen to them. Ryan on the other hand has never had friends because of constantly being traded, so it was heartwarming to see him make a close friend on the team in Wyatt. He was such an understanding and caring friend and I absolutely loved their conversations, and the time they spent teaching hockey to kids. And last but not the least, I was so happy to see the extremely short cameos of Ilya and Shane. It’s such a nice feeling to see them be happy and do good with their foundation. To conclude, this was a nice romantic read but also a bit darker in tone and definitely more angsty. But just keep in mind that it’s very different from the previous books in the series. It’s also great to see some good mental health rep and discourse in a sports romance. If you like reading love stories where the hero is a gentle giant, this one is perfect. While I didn’t always like the love interest, Ryan was an absolutely wonderful MC and I would totally recommend this book just to get to know him better. And I have no clue if the author has started writing the next book, but I know it’s rest of Ilya and Shane’s story and I’m already extremely excited for it.
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  • Leslie
    January 1, 1970
    /5 Stars.5/5 Heat5/5 Men in makeup and lingerie!5/5 Big guy= Teddy Bear! Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid was one of my top ten reads of 2019. "Heated Rivalry's," couple, Ilya and Shane are high on my all time couple list. And Ilya by himself, as a character, is just perfection. You get where I'm going with this. Basically I loved the heck out of that book. It was with a mixture of excitement and nervousness that I read, "Tough Guy." Would it measure up? Would it be as good? Maybe that's too much ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 Stars🔥🔥🔥.5/5 Heat5/5 Men in makeup and lingerie!5/5 Big guy= Teddy Bear! Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid was one of my top ten reads of 2019. "Heated Rivalry's," couple, Ilya and Shane are high on my all time couple list. And Ilya by himself, as a character, is just perfection. You get where I'm going with this. Basically I loved the heck out of that book. It was with a mixture of excitement and nervousness that I read, "Tough Guy." Would it measure up? Would it be as good? Maybe that's too much pressure to put on an author. Well, she shouldn't have created Ilya Rozanov then! In fact, I think I'm going to need to read it a third time soon.So, did I love, "Tough Guy," as much as, "Heated Rivalry?" No. It appears my love of Ilya can not be topped. But, I really, really liked it. A lot! "Tough Guy," centers around Ryan, who you may remember as a teammate of Ilya's in, "Heated Rivalry." He's not playing on Ilya's team anymore but Ilya fans will be pleased to know our favorite Russian does make an appearance or two. Also just to note that while part of this books timeline overlaps with, "Heated Rivalry," I do think this could be enjoyed on it's own without reading the previous book. But why would you want to do that to yourself?Despite reading a ton of hockey romance books, I'm not very good with the lingo. But Ryan is, I think, an enforcer. Basically, he has to fight. Frequently. He's big and burly. But underneath and off the ice? He's a teddy bear of a guy who is starting to tire of the violence. He also suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks. Then he runs into Fabian, a guy from his past. Back when he was a teenager, Ryan stayed with Fabian's family during his billet year. Sparkly, feisty Fabian, a musician, has no room for hockey players in his life. Still, he did always have a soft spot for the quiet ginger who stayed with his family all those years ago... "Tough Guy," was a lovely slow burn, friends to lovers, mild to medium angst, opposites attract, very sexy read! I related to Ryan’s anxiety on a personal level. I think his anxiety was written realistically and with care. I loved Fabian's flair and confidence and loved how gone Ryan was for him. The two were so different but absolutely perfect and right for each other.🥰Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be anxiously awaiting the next book which will bring us back to Ilya and Shane. Can't wait!ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Rachel Emily
    January 1, 1970
    What an EXCELLENT follow up and new story in this series! While nothing can top or replace Shane and Ilya as my favorite couple in this series, Fabian and Ryan do give them a run for their money. Ryan is the defender for his hockey team, but struggles with extreme anxiety and poor body and self image. He might be a bad ass on the ice, but his friend and teammate is right - he's a big, orange teddy bear. I LOVED Ryan, ohmygoodness, from his inner turmoil over little everyday things, to his honest What an EXCELLENT follow up and new story in this series! While nothing can top or replace Shane and Ilya as my favorite couple in this series, Fabian and Ryan do give them a run for their money. Ryan is the defender for his hockey team, but struggles with extreme anxiety and poor body and self image. He might be a bad ass on the ice, but his friend and teammate is right - he's a big, orange teddy bear. I LOVED Ryan, ohmygoodness, from his inner turmoil over little everyday things, to his honest issues revolving around sex, I just rooted for him right from the get go. Fabian is a talented artist, and the total opposite of the stereotypical hockey-loving male. He wears makeup, jewelry, feminine clothing - and is completely unapologetic or shamed by it, which I absolutely loved. He and Ryan first met when they were both teenagers, and although both had a teenage crush on the other, neither one acted on it. When they reconnect as adults, that spark is still there and now the two can act on it. I absolutely loved the two of them together. Fabian brought out confidence in Ryan, and also made things that Ryan struggled with into something fun and something to not stress over. Their interactions and early friendship was just so lovely to read about. I absolutely loved Fabian's friends and all their interactions as they got to know Ryan. I think what I loved most was that things, like sex, were so openly discussed. So many things in this story felt real - Ryan's extreme anxiety and his medication to help throws off his sex drive. Their first time having sex wasn't romance-novel perfect. They laughed, things went wrong, and it all felt so grounded and honest. I just loved it. There is some angst, some hockey drama, and some serious stuff that goes down in the last quarter of the book, but the HEA is wonderful and just so perfect for these two!Also, loved the little cameo with Shane and Ilya. I look forward to the next books in this series and can't wait for more! (And please Carina - if you ever read this - PUT THIS SERIES INTO PAPERBACK!)I received an arc through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Sheena ☆ Oh, the Sheenanigans!
    January 1, 1970
    A meh read and it wasn't intriguing enough to really draw me in. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad because I was initially pulled towards this because of the unique bland of main characters: an out and in the open gay sports athlete and an androgyny musician. It was just a bland mix of nothing and I'm skipping out from reading the rest of the novel. It just wasn't my cup of tea.
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  • Karma♥Bites ^.~
    January 1, 1970
    HA! Add this book & review page pops up, right?Eyes land on standard ‘What did you think?’ just above text box.What do I think? What do I think?!That cover. *wipes drool* Um... wow. Haven't had such immediate, visceral reaction since cover reveal for The Perfect Play. Good grief.But truly, interested b/c I've had some really good reads from Carina Press this yr (looking at you, Charlie Adhara) & Rachel Reid is NTM author so... *eyes drift* ... that cover...(but totally ignoring beard HA! Add this book & review page pops up, right?Eyes land on standard ‘What did you think?’ just above text box.What do I think? What do I think?!That cover. *wipes drool* Um... wow. Haven't had such immediate, visceral reaction since cover reveal for The Perfect Play. Good grief.But truly, interested b/c I've had some really good reads from Carina Press this yr (looking at you, Charlie Adhara) & Rachel Reid is NTM author so... *eyes drift* ... that cover...(but totally ignoring beard #nfm)
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  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    3.75 starsRyan Price is the muscle on the ice. He's traded from team to team, and expected to be the bully backing up the star players. It's not a role Ryan's happy with, and definitely not one that earns him any friends.But the real Ryan, the one off the ice, absolutely stole my heart. I thought Ryan's mental health issues were handled really well. Grappling with serious anxiety, Ryan was just the biggest teddy bear. He's sensitive and sweet, and just trying to figure out what truly brings him 3.75 starsRyan Price is the muscle on the ice. He's traded from team to team, and expected to be the bully backing up the star players. It's not a role Ryan's happy with, and definitely not one that earns him any friends.But the real Ryan, the one off the ice, absolutely stole my heart. I thought Ryan's mental health issues were handled really well. Grappling with serious anxiety, Ryan was just the biggest teddy bear. He's sensitive and sweet, and just trying to figure out what truly brings him happiness. Fabian Salah has never tried to fit society's definition of masculinity. He lives freely, and for his music. He also has a penchant for choosing the wrong guys.The back-story to Fabian and Ryan's relationship was precious - two very different teenagers thrown together in an uncomfortable situation became friends. And almost something more.They get a second chance after a random encounter. Sparks fly from the moment they meet again, leaving Fabian and Ryan confused but hopeful.This is a slow and very sweet romance. They both have hang-ups, but recognize that there's something real between them that could easily become everything.My biggest niggle - I really wanted Fabian to be more supportive and understanding. His aversion to hockey because of his childhood was no excuse for how he responded to Ryan's situation.That aside, I thought Ryan and Fabian's story was very sweet. And while it takes some time and a lot of tough decisions, their happy ever after was perfect for them.If you're looking for an MM hockey read that's a bit more on the angsty side, give 'Tough Guy' a try!Review copy provided through NetGalley
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  • Cory
    January 1, 1970
    I really have enjoyed every book in this series. I might go back and read the first two again especially after a part in this book where Ryan had some interaction with a few of the previous characters.I know Wyatt is married to a woman, but I would love to read more about him too. Great series!
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  • Caz
    January 1, 1970
    I've given this a B at AAR.Tough Guyis book three in Rachel Reid’s Game Changers series, set in the world of professional hockey. While I wasn’t as utterly caught up in the romance here as I was in the previous book (Heated Rivalry– which made my Best of 2019 list), I nonetheless enjoyed the novel, and appreciated the way the author flips the stereotype of the confident, ripped jock so often found in sports romances (both m/f and m/m) and creates instead an endearing, gentle-giant-type character I've given this a B at AAR.Tough Guy is book three in Rachel Reid’s  Game Changers  series, set in the world of professional hockey. While I wasn’t as utterly caught up in the romance here as I was in the previous book (Heated Rivalry – which made my Best of 2019 list), I nonetheless enjoyed the novel, and appreciated the way the author flips the stereotype of the confident, ripped jock so often found in sports romances (both m/f and m/m) and creates instead an endearing, gentle-giant-type character with severe self-esteem issues who struggles to reconcile the person he truly is with the one he’s expected to be on the ice.At six-feet-seven inches, with a build like a bulldozer, Ryan Price knows how to intimidate.  On the ice, he’s an enforcer, someone other players actually aspire to fight with – especially rookies, for whom “paying the Price” is something of a rite of passage.  But it’s an image and a job that Ryan wrestles with, and which has been weighing down on him more and more as the years have passed, because that’s not who he is at all.  When the story begins, Ryan has just been traded – yet again – this time to the Toronto Guardians, and is being urged – ordered, really – by his coach to be more of a team player both on and off the ice, and unsubtly quizzed about his mental health.  Anxiety, self-esteem issues and finding social situations hard to deal with mean Ryan has always found it difficult to connect personally and professionally, and a well-publicised “freak out” the previous season (a panic attack) has made him even more self-conscious. This is the ninth team Ryan has played for in almost as many years; he’s never played anywhere long enough to put down roots or make any real friends, but this time he’s determined to change that, and finds himself an apartment in the vibrant, LGBTQ part of town.  Ryan is openly – albeit quietly – gay but that’s never been an issue, partly, he suspects, because he’s moved too often for anyone to really notice or care, and with a few other players – notably Scott Hunter (Game Changer) – coming out recently, it hasn’t seemed necessary to hide it. Sex hasn’t often been a positive experience for him; he  hasn’t had many partners, and those he has had haven’t really been interested in him as a person, or been able to see past his size or their own preconceptions of what he should like and want.  He’s lonely, the medication he’s on is screwing up his libido and… it sucks.When Ryan enters  a local pharmacy in order to get a prescription filled, he’s surprised to see Fabian Salah working there.  When Ryan was seventeen, he’d been billeted with the Salahs, a Lebanese family who lived and breathed hockey and whose daughter was a rising hockey star, but whose son, a hugely talented musician, seemed hardly to merit their notice.  Even then, Ryan thought Fabian was beautiful and had a mad crush on him – which he suppressed, having quickly learned that Fabian despised everything to do with hockey.  Over the year Ryan lived with Salahs, Fabian’s attitude changed and they became friends, but they haven’t seen each other since Ryan made the NHL.You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance .
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