Title: Season's Change (Trade Season #1)
Author: Cait Nary
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: February 1, 2022
Genre(s): Contemporary Sports Romance, Hockey
Page Count: 377
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
I'm a huge fan of hockey .... and an equally huge fan of M/M hockey stories. And I honestly wish I could say I'm a huge fan of this book, but this story just did not work for me personally.
The book has good bones - a hockey team chock full of great characters, some pretty good hockey action, interesting family dynamics for both MCs, and a budding friendship / bromance / something more? between a veteran player and a D-man rookie who has always given hockey his all because it's his only way to rise up from his childhood.
Olly Järvinen is gay. He was harrassed by his homophobic roommate with his former team, and suffers from extreme anxiety / PTSD. Benji Bryzinski "was just a dumbass from Duncannon, Pennsylvania, but he had arrived." He's a good bro, and shortly everyone on the team is his bro, and he takes nervous twitchy Olly under his 6' 5" wing.
But at 377 pages, Olly's terror about being outed and Benji's dude-bro goodness grows thin after a while. There is a lot (a lot) of internal monologues from both MCs and nothing happens between the two MCs for the first half of the book. Finally, they begin a sexual relationship, with Olly believing that Benji is mostly straight-ish and will leave him for a woman eventually, and Benji doesn't really figure out until almost the end that he's probably bisexual. Sigh ....
I suppose it's unusual to have a M/M hockey romance where the two MCs and their relationship is the least interesting aspect of the book. The Washington Eagle's team is really well done, and I liked reading about how the players really care about one another; the hockey itself is well-written; the family dynamic between Olly and his brothers is touching; I really want Benji's sister Krista to wake up and realize she can do much better than her unfaithful husband; I like the way Benji works so hard to move from the trailer park to the NHL; and the author really does a good job on showing how Olly is helped during his therapy.
Overall I would give all these aspects of the story a strong 4 stars, but the relationship angst is 2 stars, so I'm giving 3 stars to Season's Change and hoping that the second book in the series will improve on the good bones of this book.
Oh, and as a side note, if Olly's family lives in Duluth, they aren't going to have a cabin on Lake Vermillion. For us Minnesotans, the North Shore area is God's country and most of us dream about having a cabin around Grand Marais or close to Lake Superior.
I received an ARC from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.