Heated Rivalry (Game Changers #2)

Heated Rivalry: A Gay Sports Romance (Game Changers Book 2)
Author: Rachel Reid
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: March 25, 2019
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Sports Romance
Page Count: 310
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5

Read book blurb here

FYI: "Heated Rivalry" is the second in Rachel Reid's Game Changers series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone.

Holy hockey, this is an amazingly fun read. It's enemies-to-lovers with loads (and loads, literally) of sizzling hot hate sex and hot hockey action and it's all tied up in a helluva sweet slow-burn love story. Shane and Ilya first meet when they are 17 at the World Junior Hockey Championships and begin their sexual tension-fueled rivalry:
"Are you getting tired of second place?" Rozanov smirked.
"I'm winning this game," Shane growled.
"There is not an 'I' in team, right?
"There's an 'I' in 'suck my dick.'"
Rozanov raised an eyebrow as they bend for the faceoff.
Starting their NHL rookie year, Rozanov and Hollander meet up in hotel rooms when their teams play one another during the season, or during the odd event like the NHL All Star game. And it's all so deliciously twisted - two hockey rivals on the ice, who have hot dirty no-holds-barred sex and then go their separate ways.

Maybe, when they had started seven years ago, they hadn't expected their lives, their famous rivalry, to get to the point it was at now. Maybe they should have stopped by now. But, despite the wrongness of it, this was comfortable. This was familiar. And it was as close to safe as either of them were going to get. That's all it was.
But over the years, things are no longer as clear-cut as they used to be. Rachel Reid does an amazing job balancing Shane and Ilya's combustible chemistry with this tender tendril of love that gently grows. The two men start confiding in one another and we learn more about Ilya's childhood and family relationships, which is all kinds of heart-breaking.

The plot is so well-constructed and every scene feels just right as Shane and Ilya fall in love and start wondering if their relationship maybe does have a future. I love the juxtaposition between the omigawd steamy sex and the romance that blindsides both men, and the pacing of the story is tight (it really didn't feel like there were over 300 pages in this book - I could have easily read another 100 pages or more) as we are carried along to an ending that is not quite a HEA, but is perfect for Shane and Ilya at this point in their lives.

5+ stars for "Heated Rivalry" and a Recommended Read.

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