Across the Pond (Arizona Raptors #2)

Title: Across the Pond (Raptors Book 2)
Author: R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey
Publisher: Love Lane Books Ltd.
Release Date: November 10, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Hockey
Page Count: 199
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Blurb: Read book blurb here

"Across the Pond" is the second book in the Arizona Raptors series, a tie-in to the Harrisburg Railers and Owatonna U series. As part of the continuing efforts of the owners and coaching staff to turn the Raptors around, Sebastian Brown is brought over from England to raise the team's media profile and is immediately bowled over by gorgeous 22-year-old player Alejandro Garcia, thinking he would be the perfect poster boy to repair the team's tarnished image.

Alex loves his close-kind Catholic family, but struggles with the "toxic machismo so many Latino males grow up with" and is absoulutely terrified about coming out to his family. Alex copes by acting cocky, macho, and above all straight:
Fuck. I so hated this. Hating it didn't keep me from doing it, though. I wiggled into the skin of a straight Latino man, pasted on the smile the ladies liked, and sauntered into party central.
But no matter what he does, "sexy and foreign and whiskery" Sebastian intrigues him and once Alex admits to himself that he is gay, his relationship with Sebastian very slowly evolves as he tentatively explores his sexuality. There are kisses, frottage and a sexy shower scene, but Alejandro still has a firm grasp on his v-card.

The plot also keeps us up-to-date on Ryker, their goalie Colorado Penn, Henry (recovering from a horrific car accident) and Sebastian's efforts to rehabiliate their image. I like the character development of the secondary characters (who I imagine will soon star in their own books in the "Arizona Raptors" series) and the glimpses into Alejandro's strong family, but around 75% through the book ... the plot takes a turn - in my opinion - that feels way too abrupt and harsh. Alex's announcement of his sexuality is way too sudden and ill-conceived. Finally the epilogue starts with a very passionate scene showing that Sebastian and Alex have definitely progressed beyond blow jobs and frottage, but given the way the authors carefully unfold Alex's acceptance of his sexuality, it all feels too rushed and without the emotional background that gets the characters to this stage.

As the second book in the series, "Across the Pond" nicely moves along the series by giving us more insight into members of the team and their dynamic, and showing us how the team is slowly pulling together. While aspects of this particular book didn't work for me personally, I'm enjoying the series and looking forward to more books! 3.5 stars for "Across the Pond."

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